Aging Choice Beef
Meats packed in Cryovac (a vacuum packed plastic) can be stored directly in the Cryovac, as long as it has not been punctured. We recommend buying Choice tenderloin at Costco in a Cryovac bag. It is fun to see which USDA meat packing plant your beef comes from, as we believe the best cuts we have enjoyed come from the mid-western states. Put it in the bottom of your refrigerator and forget it for two weeks.
One unwrapped, you will need to trim the tenderloin. Extra care should be given to keep the meat as intact as possible. Using a very sharp knife, remove the silver skin and the “chain.” This is the strip of fat along the side and top next to the silver skin. It can be used in a variety of preparations including, stocks, broths, sauces, soups or ground meat. You should cut into steaks or roasts, and freeze any portions you do not intend to use within three days. The ones you intend to use will keep three days refrigerated.
Government inspection of all meats is mandatory, at various times—on the ranch, at the slaughterhouse, and after butchering. Quality grading is not mandatory. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed specific standards used to assign grades to meats. Most states delegate the inspections and grading to federal inspectors and graders.
PRIME grade – is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. Only 2% of the beef in the United States is graded Prime. It has abundant marbling and isgenerally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (i.e., roasting, broiling, and grilling).
CHOICE grade – is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime, suited to dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts, such as those from the rump, round, and blade chuck, can also be cooked with dry heat, but be careful not to over-cook them. Using a meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking and assures a safe internal temperature: 145 ° F is medium rare; 160 ° F, medium; and 170 ° F, well done. Choice Grade is also subdivided further by Yield Grades. Yield Grade 1 is the best and 5 the lowest. Often the Yield Grade 1 Choice is marketed by groceries under specialty names such as “Gold Choice.”
SELECT grade – is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts (loin, rib, sirloin) should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or cooked with moisture to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.
While I have read many other recipes for filet mignon and cooked most of them, this one is simply the best. It features the Four Seasons , which I also heard described by Adam Perry Lang in Charred & Scruffed (who displays on many pages a really great looking herb basting brush fashioned from rosemary, sage or thyme strapped to a stick, which I haven’t yet tried)as sea or kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic salt and cayenne pepper, but this one comes from the meat packers of America to the steak houses of haute cuisine and is the original four seasons, and we think simply better. Try them both for yourself and decide. This is the recipe we always turn back to when the others, from the simple to the exotic, fail to outperform it in taste. The Roquefort sauce is optional but we think it is also the best, if you have a few minutes to spare.
STEAK AU BEURRE de ROQUEFORT
Prepare each person an 1″-thick fillets steak, cut from perfectly aged choice filet mignon. Preferably from choice Charolais or Black Angus Cattle, if in the US fed at Midwestern or Texas feedlots. Season with Jim Greear’s Four Seasons blend of coarse sea salt (we prefer fleur de sel), freshly ground black pepper, freshly chopped garlic and Worchestershire sauce. Let sit 20 minutes at room temperature while the grill comes to high heat.
Grill to medium rare over hot coals or a propane grill. I prefer the “turning every couple of minutes approach” to the create dark grill marks approach recommended by so many. Yes, I use quarter-turns and go for the cross-hatch on the meat, but it is not my primary goal. I have been served plenty of meat with nice grill marks that did nothing to disguise a poor cooking technique and a lack of texture. By turning and moving frequently, you can control the build of heat and the tempering of the meat.
Let medium rare steaks rest on a tented cutting board or plate, while you make the sauce.
Mix room temperature butter in equal parts with Roquefort cheese, about 1/4 lbs. each, then put the pats of butter/cheese over the top of the hot steak and serve straight away.
Or make a simple board dressing instead of the Roquefort sauce.