ABOVE THE CUT: MEAT BASICS
At Iowa Meat Farms & Siesel’s Meats, when it comes to meat, we’re the experts! Our butcher shop dynasty has been serving San Diego’s culinary community for over 70 years, and we pride ourselves in having access to the highest quality cuts.
Our objective is tender and flavorful beef. The elements necessary to produce that beef are simple and logical. First, you have to recognize that “meat” is muscle and connective tissue. The more they are used and the longer they are used, the tougher they become. So, the animal needs to be INACTIVE and YOUNG. Secondly, “fat” delivers flavor to the tongue, so we want the meat to be wellmarbled. That means that the animal must be PROPERLY FED with a high sugar content feed, such as corn. (Grass-fed beef lacks this quality, and, therefore, will not be consistent in quality.)
Finally, when an animal is harvested, natural enzymes begin to break down the tissue. This AGING process is actually decomposition done under controlled circumstances. In our case, it is aged an average of thirty days at 36/37 degrees. This produces both tenderness and complex flavors. (Most of our steaks are “wet” aged in vacuum-sealed bags. For a more intense flavor, we do offer a selection of “dry-aged” steaks.)
Don’t be fooled by the many marketing strategies out there. Those four elements of YOUTH, INACTIVITY, PROPER FEED, and PROPER AGING, MUST be present, or the beef will be inferior!
Once we know the rules, how do we find the product? A vast majority of the beef sold in San Diego is from the Central Valley of California, Imperial Valley, Arizona’s Sonora Desert, and the dairylands of Utah. Young, inactive, well-fed cattle are not likely to come from those areas. Proper cattle come from America’s Heartland. The vast majority of our beef comes from Nebraska!
In recent years, the quality of available beef has diminished. This is even true of Midwestern beef. It has forced us to switch to “hand-selected” product. In this case, we buy from dealers who actually select individual animals to insure quality.
USDA PRIME is the highest grade of beef. It represents only an average of 2% of the total production. That, however, wasn’t quite good enough for us. All of our PRIME beef comes from hand-selected programs of Iowa Beef Packers. It is either their own selected Angus or Certified Angus and comes from Dakota City, NE.
USDA CHOICE is the second highest grade. Our “1855 Brand Hand-Selected Choice Beef” is a product of Swift & Co. It was named in honor of Augustus Swift who, in 1855, borrowed $20 from his father and went on to make history. This superb product comes to us from Grand Island, NE. For more info, visit their website at www.1855brand.com
MIDWESTERN USDA PRIME AND CHOICE BEEF is what our customers deserve. We refer to Western beef and all other grades as USDA ROADKILL! It simply isn’t good enough for any serious cook. Why waste your time?
When most people hear this term, they think of the famous hyper-marbled beef from Japan. That top level of true Kobe beef is called “A5”, and it is available on special order. Prices will vary, but you can expect to pay in excess of $150 per pound. Beef with this excessive marbling is really in a class by itself. Like “foie gras”, it’s not something that you taste. It’s something that you experience! We want you to be aware that there are a lot of “pretenders” out there. There is beef produced in Australia, Canada, California, Texas, Idaho, ad nauseam, that is marketed as “kobe”. It’s not! In most cases, these are crosses between Wagyu (the true Kobe breed) and Black Angus. While some of it can be quite good, it is NOT Kobe, and it is extremely overpriced. We have done taste comparisons between a high level of Australian Wagyu versus our Angus Prime. They were identical in taste and tenderness, but the phony “kobe” was four times the price of the Nebraska beef.
More of these Wagyu operations are starting up all the time. When and if we find one that is of high enough quality while being reasonably priced, we will carry it. If we wouldn’t buy it, we can’t expect you to buy it.
USDA CHOICE domestic lamb is milder in flavor and much more tender than lamb imported from Australia or New Zealand. It is, therefore, the choice of serious cooks. We offer both bone-in and boneless legs, small loin chops, frenched racks, ground lamb, lamb shanks, and lamb leg meat cut for stewing or kabobs. Whole lamb and specialty cuts are available on special order.
Modern veal is produced by feeding calves a protein, vitamin, and mineral enhanced formula based on dried milk. It produces a larger and higher quality animal than the older method. This is true, milk-fed veal. We regularly carry top round cutlets, rib chops, rib roasts, osso bucco, stew, ground veal, and veal bones for stock. Other cuts, such as veal breast and shoulder roasts, are available on special order. We also offer a full line of Provimi brand veal, beef, and chicken glaces and demiglaces to make your sauce making less of a chore.
Unlike beef, veal, and lamb, there is no grading system for pork. Regular, “commodity” pork is very lean. If it is overcooked, it can become tough and dry. Modern pork is safe and does not require cooking to the high temperatures suggested in the past. 150-160 degrees is adequate. We offer bone-in and boneless chops, bone-in and boneless roasts, crown roasts, spareribs, and pork shoulder butts. Our specialty is the meatiest babyback ribs on the market! Fresh pork legs, whole roasting hogs, and European style skin-on pork loins are available on special order.
For those who are looking for a higher quality pork that tastes like pork used to taste, we offer Certified American Berkshire Pork from Eden Farms of Iowa. This is often referred to as “kurobuta” pork, but it is not a Japanese breed at all. It is American Berkshire. We offer bone-in chops and roasts, St. Louis style spareribs, and their wonderful boneless butts. This pork is raised the old-fashioned way. For more information, visit their website at www.betterpork.com
Produced in large pens with just one square foot per bird, “modern” chickens are often unhealthy, unappetizing and unethically raised. People who have never had the privilege of enjoying a “real” chicken will be in for a treat when they taste the phenomenal flavor of the birds from our new poultry supplier, Mary’s Free Range Chicken. Raised by a third generation of family farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Mary’s California Bronze was one of the first products to achieve the coveted “5 Step” rating — which encourages higher welfare practices and systems to benefit of farmers, consumers, retailers, and the animals. For more information, visit their website: www.maryschickens.com
Making quality a tradition since 1949, we are also pleased to announce both deli locations will now be offering Diestel Turkeys for Thanksgiving. Famous for their tender, juicy flavor all Diestel birds are fed only the finest grains, free of animal by-products and are range-grown at the family ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s. Find out more about them here: www.diestelturkey.com
A wide variety of fresh and frozen poultry, including Cornish Game Hens, Peking and Muscovy Ducks, Duck Breasts, Goose, Quail, Pheasant, and Guinea Fowl is also on available at both our stores.
UNSURPASSED IN QUALITY, ORDERS ARE TAKEN FOR OUR THANKSGIVING BIRDS BEGINNING NOVEMBER FIRST EVERY YEAR!
This Cajun tradition was developed by Chef Paul Prudhomme. It is a turkey stuffed with a boneless duck and a boneless chicken. Each of the birds has a different dressing. The turkey is stuffed with a traditional poultry dressing, the duck with apple/cinnamon, and the chicken with our Cajun cornbread.
We currently offer four different sizes. The “Small” has a minimum weight of 15# and will feed 15-20 people. The “Large” is a 20# minimum and will serve 20-30. We also offer a “Baby” Turducken, as well as a boneless turducken roll which has a minimum weight of 8# and serves 8-12. All sizes are available fresh or frozen year-round.
FOR FRESH: HOLIDAY ORDERS SHOULD BE PLACED TEN DAYS IN ADVANCE! FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR, PLACE THE ORDER THREE DAYS IN ADVANCE!
Please call for current pricing.
We carry a wide variety of frozen venison, buffalo, elk, wild boar, kangaroo, alligator, ostrich, etc. Most “wild” game is actually farm-raised. “Broadleaf Farms” is the leading producer and provider of game in the world. To view a complete list of the meats that are available, visit their website at www.broadleafgame.com They maintain a terminal warehouse in Los Angeles. Subject to current availability, we can special order anything from their list. Deliveries are on Tuesdays and Fridays. Orders must be placed three days in advance.
Each of our stores produces fresh sausages on their premises. We regularly offer our signature Sweet and Hot Italian from an authentic “India Street” recipe, as well as Bratwurst & Polish varieties. The Mission Gorge store will custom make any fresh sausage with a minimum five pound order. Just bring us the recipe or the seasonings, and we will do the rest. We also carry a variety of smoked sausages, including natural casing hot dogs, linguisa and andouille.
We are famous for our Carne Asada and Pollo Asado. We also carry a wide variety of “ready to cook” steaks, roasts, stuffed pork chops, marinated chicken breasts, ribs, and on and on. Literally, there are too many to list.