Marbled Steak Lovers of the World Unite
We Have Nothing to Lose But Bland, Dried Out Meat!
Welcome back to Angus University. Today in Beef Appreciation 101, we’re going to talk about one of our favorite topics: marbled steak – what it is, how it got there, and why marbling in meat makes your steak so much better tasting!
One of the first things our customers comment on the first time they feast their eyes on one of our steaks – especially our Ribeyes – is the amount of marbling they see.
For the last few years – since the late 70s / early 80s really – red meat has gotten a bad rap from some Doctors and nutritionists. We’ve been told that if we want to enjoy our beef, we should be eating it as lean as possible. And that has impacted the steaks most folks are exposed to in the supermarket.
As it turns out, the health benefits of eating lean beef rather than well marbled beef are probably overstated.
We all already knew, deep in our heart of hearts, that a nicely marbled steak just tastes better.
Well today, we’re sharing some good news. As it happens, well-marbled meat also works very well with a heart-healthy lifestyle, especially if that marbling is a result of a healthy lifestyle for your cows.
In fact, grass-fed, free-range, flax-finished beef is an ideal fit for today’s high-protein nutritional movements like Keto and Paleo. But anyone’s meal plan is made more enjoyable with a richly marbled, tender and satisfying Snow Creek Ranch Steak.
Or Call 844-34-ANGUS (844-342-6487).
Fat – It’s No 4-Letter Word
So now that we’ve gotten the outdated and incorrect health claims out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! Steaks and marbling.
Marbling is one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot by foodies and other folks who may or may not know what it actually means, but they definitely want you to think they know what it means.
Well here at good ol’ Snow Creek Ranch, we’re beef marbling experts. For proof, look no further than our signature steak itself: our bone in Ribeye.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is marbling in meat? When you look at a steak, there are 2 visible types of fat: back fat and intramuscular fat. These are pretty self-explanatory terms. Back fat is that ⅓ inch strip of pure white fat you see at the edge of the steak. This is often trimmed before cooking, leaving only your well marbled steak to be grilled to mouth watering perfection.
You can also see intramuscular fat (IMF) or marbling, which is what we’re dealing with today. Marbling in meat is the flecks of pure white fat distributed throughout the lean muscle.If you spend any time around foodies, or just knowledgeable beef lovers, you’ll have heard the term ‘fat is flavor.’ This marbling is what they’re talking about.
Marbled meat is coveted among beef lovers, because it’s usually not only more flavorful, but juicer and more tender than lean meat as well.
How does beef marbling affect different aspects of your steak-eating experience?
Flavor – At steakhouse-medium-rare (130º to 140º), the fat melts completely, coating the surrounding muscle tissue and infusing the meat with the bold, beefy flavor we love so much.
Tenderness – As we mentioned in our Angus University entry on dry aged beef last month, our 21 days of dry aging is key to making your steak as tender as possible. But our drive for tenderness doesn’t stop there. Our marbling program is also key.
Fat itself is more tender than muscle, so as the marbling intermingles with the muscle, the overall effect is to make the steak even more tender.
Texture – Properly cooked, your marbling will also create the silky, swoony texture you fall in love with when you bite into a Snow Creek Ranch Ribeye or New York Strip.
Juiciness – As the marbling melts into the steak, it makes your steak more juicy. This is why a lean steak is often a dry steak (which is why a dry steak is a flavorless steak). And if you overcook your steak, rendering the fat out, you also get a dry, flavorless steak with poor texture.
Or Call 844-34-ANGUS (844-342-6487).
Measuring Marbling – The USDA Beef Marbling Chart
We’ve been tossing around the term ‘well-marbled,’ and showing you photos of steaks that measure up to our yardstick. But how do we know what we really mean when we say a steak is well-marbled?
The USDA Beef Marbling Chart.
If you’re a steak lover, you probably have a passing familiarity with the terms ‘Prime,’ ‘Select,’ and ‘Choice,’ when it comes to beef. You may have assumed, like most of us, that those words refer to some mysterious quality score. In fact, like our blog post today, they are all about marbling.
In 1926, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the beef marbling chart to standardize and regulate the ratio of fat to muscle in the beef you can buy at the store or order in a restaurant.
Inspectors grade primarily based on the age of the cow, and on the amount of marbling measured between the 12th and 13th rib.
For the most part, the beef you find in the supermarket is USDA Choice, although as more and more of us have graduated to foodie status over the last 10 years or so, more and more USDA Prime steaks have found their way to supermarket shelves.
Most USDA Prime steaks are served in high end steakhouses. Our philosophy has always been, “why should I have to go out to a fancy-schmancy steakhouse to get the best marbled beef available?” Let’s see if we can bring the finest steaks available to people who would not otherwise have access to this level of delicious marbling.
Snow Creek Ranch Steaks are actually more highly marbled than USDA Prime, more akin to a Kobe or Wagyu steak. But here’s what’s so great: our beef tastes even better than these gourmet breeds.
We’ve combined the highly abundant marbling of Wagyu beef, with the rich beefy flavor of American Black Angus to bring you and your family a truly exceptional steak eating experience.
Or Call 844-34-ANGUS (844-342-6487).
Breeding & Feeding for Above Prime Quality
It’s long been conventional wisdom that grass-fed cattle aren’t capable of achieving USDA Prime-Level marbling – at least without resorting to artificial marbling, restrictive penning practices, and abusive feedlot practices. All of which run counter to our core values of ethical stewardship of our animals and land, and honesty and integrity with our customers.
Doc and Glenda found a way to prove the conventional wisdom wrong.
Genetic Purity & Mouth-Watering Beef
Our beef marbling program starts with Doc’s innovative breeding process, which produces some of the purest Black Angus animals around. He chose Black Angus because the breed naturally produces reliably tender and well marbled meat. And over the years he’s carefully curated and maintained an almost unprecedented level of genetic purity within the herd.
Snow Creek Ranch Cows are 98.7% pure (meaning they have less than 3% genetic material from other breeds of cattle). In order to be considered ‘Certified Angus,’ a cow only needs to be 30% Angus. All by itself, this would put us ahead of the game for marbling, but that’s only the tip of the spear.
Within this genetically pure herd, we breed especially for marbling. While Black Angus is already known for its finely marbled meat, our program ramps that up significantly, intentionally selecting for traits that contribute to marbling and a more intense flavor profile.
This puts us in the top 1% of producers, when ranked for tenderness marbling and flavor, compared to other American cattle ranchers.
Grass-Feeding & Beef Marbling
Aside from breeding, one of the most important factors in creating a beautifully marbled Snow Creek Ranch Steak is our finishing process.
While larger commercial cattle producers force their animals into a feedlot and force feed them mostly corn and soy, our proprietary program is more humane, and produces a tastier steak.
Our cows are finished on a variety of grains and flax for the last 2 months or so (depending upon their weight) to achieve the marbling we’re looking for, and to round out and intensify the beefy flavor.
We’ve also added flax to the mix for flavor and richness.
Recent research by some of the most prestigious agricultural universities has also demonstrated that adding flax to the finishing blend of grains increases the amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids (like in salmon) in the marbling.
The end result is a more delicious piece of meat, that is also better for you than the cheap supermarket steaks that have given red meat such a bad reputation.
So it turns out, the true answer to the question ‘What is marbling in meat,’ isn’t really ‘the flecks of pure white, intramuscular fat you see in a fresh, hand cut steak.”
The answer is that it’s what makes a Snow Creek Ranch Steak so special.
Where Can I Get Snow Creek Ranch Dry Aged Steaks?
The 2 easiest ways to get your hands on a Snow Creek Ranch Dry Aged, Beautifully Marbled Steak are: