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Wed Feb 20, 2013, 04:08 AM

This is unrelated to the beef/chicken thread

Although it is a reminder of the importance of a trusted beef purveyor.

I'm pretty sure (not positive) that it predates Zilmax, but we had just moved into a place, I didn't know the stores yet, and were stocking up on housegoods and crap at Walmart (the "and crap" part is prescient, as you will see). Anyhoos, this was when Walmart - where I have never bought beef before, and never have since - was experimenting with these pre-sized, a slab-to-a-bag, white styro meat containers, and I bought a london broil - a cut I have cooked a zillion times before - to take home. Prior to that, I had always bought my meat prepared at (usually) a store butcher or (occasionally) a dedicated butcher.

I almost always (99.9999999999% of the time) grill my steaks, but our grill wasn't set up yet, so I used the oven.

The results SUCKED. It had a horrid aftertaste. I mentally blamed it first on something I did wrong with the oven, which would have affected the texture (mealy, dry) and maybe something in the oven affected the taste. Remember, it was my first time I had used that oven. Maybe the temps were wildly off (should have pan-fried).

However, over dinner, and working it through my head, I realized I couldn't lay the blame at the foot of the oven, and I honestly didn't think it was a fault of my cooking either, so perhaps I didn't get the cut of meat I thought I did. I dug through the trash and found the contains, and it was marked "london broil" (or ""shoulder for london broil", or something like that), and I was tossing it back in the trash where I noticed the ingredient list on the back of the package.

Ingredient list? By golly, there was an ingredient list. And if I looked at the front where it said "london broil" beneath that in their tiny weasel print was the words "prepared in a 10% solution" (or whatever the solution percentage was) with an asterisk leading to - you guessed it - the ingredient list on the back.

Which was chock full of shit ingredients, flavorings, and preservatives. And it made for a sucky stake - the worst I have ever prepared that was not a fault of my own doing.

I actually wrote Walmart after that, and complained, more of a "how and why could you do this to your steaks" rather than wanting any money back (didn't have my receipt anyway). I got a response back that essentially Walmart determined that this was what people wanted - they don't want to flavor or hassle with steaks - they want to cook them and basically get the texture and flavor they remember from growing up.

I can't speak to texture - maybe people's parents couldn't cook (I know how true that can be) - though I think it would have sucked no matter who cooked it, but I don't see how the taste is reminiscent unless the fact that I flavored it myself (the pre-flavoring unbeknownst to me) turned out to overdo it (and I probably only put garlic salt on it).

I had gotten used to people mucking with my chicken (prepared in an x% brine or x% solution) but beef is sacred. Unless you are selling a teriyaki marinaded steak (which is usually not recommended from most common purveyors anyway) or one of those cajun / mesquite things, do not F with my steak. All I want is there is beef. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you can't handle working from plain beef then you shouldn't be cooking my steak anyways, and even if you can't, a Walmart steak is a far cry from the answer.

All this really does is create a nation of people who don't know what ANYTHING tastes like, from steak to bagels (but that's another thread).

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Reply This is unrelated to the beef/chicken thread (Original post)
Tab Feb 2013 OP
Warpy Feb 2013 #1
Major Nikon Feb 2013 #2
Tab Feb 2013 #3
pscot Feb 2013 #4

Response to Tab (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 04:18 AM

1. I don't eat all that much meat

so when I buy it, I insist on the organic stuff. All supermarket meat tastes really weird to me, probably because of the flavor enhancers they put into it to make it taste like fast food. It's foul. It's like eating meat that's been dipped in house paint if you're not used to all the off flavors.

So give me a nice, tough chicken I can stew. No, you can't cut real ones with the side of a fork, you're not supposed to be able to. If it's brined, I know what's in it because I did the brining.

People from overseas complain about the meat here. Ours doesn't whinny, but it's been fouled up by "flavor experts" trying to cover up the fact that the cows, pigs and chickens have been raised in unnatural conditions on unnatural diets and the meat by itself can taste like cardboard.

So yeah, I know exactly what you're saying. I'm glad you learned your lesson quickly: if you don't have a butcher or a meat department in a health food store, watch those weasel words and especially watch out for ingredient lists that say anything other than "beef" "pork" or "chicken."

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 04:41 AM

2. I don't shop for beef at places that don't have a butcher on staff

I'm pretty particular about beef. For tender cuts of meat, I want the thickness to be what I specify and I want the steak or roast to come from a particular place on the primal cut. If I can't get that level of service, I'm going to go somewhere else. I also prefer to deal with places that guarantee their meat. You can get a bum steak anywhere. Even the best cuts that are professionally inspected do not insure a bum steak or roast. I want someplace that's going to give me my money back if I get a bad one.

Walmart buys all of their meat from meat packing plants. Because of this they have to take extra measures to insure freshness due to transportation times. It's just one extra reason not to buy meat from them.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:42 AM

3. I understand trying to manage freshness

(although other not quite-so-for-profit chains seem to manage), but this went beyond a preservative; it was specifically flavor additives (like roast beef extract or things like that), and Walmart corporate acknowledged they add that in so consumers get the "flavor they know and love).

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Response to Tab (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:34 AM

4. We've quit buying supermarket beef in favor of Costco

Cost is about the same and you have to do some processing, which not everyone has time or inclination for. But the difference in taste and quality makes it worth while, in my view. Plus, if you want beef, you just open the freezer and see what's available.

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