Most of you did not have the privilege to attend Her Majesty’s Royal Academy of Butchery and Meatballing, so I imagine you may be a bit confused about the many different cuts of meat. I’m sure you’ve heard of T-bones, filet mignons, New York strips, ribeyes, top sirloin, chuck roast, rump roast, brisket, flank steak, blade steak, tenderloin, and other cuts of beef, but do you have any idea how they came to be?
After all, there are a million different ways to slice a cow. And as explained by my main man Bourdain, French butchers have an entirely different way of doing it than Americans. I’m sure the Japanese have their own way, which probably requires a blindfold, a samurai sword, and a monkey dressed like a space robot.
The bottom line is that dead cows don’t come with perforations on their insides to show you how to cut them apart. Someone has to actually figure it out.
The New York Times has an interesting article on how the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is using a test kitchen to “invent” new cuts of beef in order to boost sales. For example, test kitchen researchers recently came up with something called “the Denver steak,” which is carved from part of the normally used for ground beef:
The Denver was invented after meat and marketing experts spent more than $1.5 million and five years on the largest study anyone had ever done on the edible anatomy of a steer.
The point was to increase the $15.5 billion a year that people spend at the supermarket buying beef. The association thinks consumers may pay $5.99 a pound for a Denver steak. As ground beef, it’s about $2.99.
“This has been an evolution in the way we think about taking apart that beef carcass,” said Chris Calkins, a University of Nebraska professor who was part of the muscle study. “It’s a profound shift.”
So yes, your grilling options are currently being conjured by multimillion dollar marketing studies. And no, it’s nothing to get all worked up about. After all, London Broil is just a fancy name for flank steak invented by butchers to sell cheap cuts of meat.
Besides, I don’t see why anyone would shy away from the intersection of meat and marketing. For example, I think meat-based business cards are the coolest thing anyone has ever invented. Unless you do a lot of business with cows or people in India, obviously.