Friday, March 18, 2011
Over the past couple years, Angus Beef has been popping up in menus and grocery stores everywhere. Where did it come from? Based on the marketing, it sounds like Angus equals better beef. But, is that true, is Angus better than the rest?
Angus Beef is usually sold by name, giving it an air of exclusivity, but Black Angus is actually the most popular breed of cattle in the United States with over 300,000 registered animals. Angus Cattle (called Aberdeen Angus in the rest of the world) is a breed of cattle native to Aberdeenshire and Angus in Scotland. They can be either red or black, but black have become the preferred color. Angus Cattle are also hornless, which gives them a look distinct from other cows.
1. Why are we hearing so much about Angus?
One of the reasons Angus is so popular is because over the past decade it became a favorite of the fast food industry. And, in case you hadn't noticed, the fast food industry does a lot of marketing! McDonald's, Burger King and Hardee's all offer Angus burgers as premium options on their menus. But, it's important to remember that Angus describes the type of cattle, not the quality of the meat.
2. Is Angus worth it?
Basically, Angus is only better if it has a high USDA rating, just like other kinds of beef. In order of quality from highest to lowest, beef can be Prime, Choice, Select, Commercial, Utility or Cutter. So, even if you see "Angus" on the label, you should still check the quality designation.
Where it gets confusing is when you encounter the label "Certified Angus Beef" which is actually a brand started in 1978 by the American Angus Association. Certified Angus Beef must be in the top two-thirds of quality (so Prime or Choice) and have modest marbling. The branding and quality specs for Certified Angus Beef is done by the American Angus Association, so it's not a government designation checked by public inspectors.
The reason Angus has become so popular is because the cattle naturally have more meat than other breeds and have well-distributed marbling of fat in the meat. Besides Angus, it's worth knowing about Wagyu Beef (also called Kobe Beef when it's from Japan). Kobe/Wagyu Beef often has 20-30% marbling in the ribeye cut, whereas USDA Prime meat usually has 6-8% marbling. As a result, Kobe is usually more tender and tasty than regular beef. In Japan, Kobe cattle are things of legend because they're sometimes given beer in their feed (to increase appetite during the summer) and massaged to promote relaxation. American Wagyu cattle aren't usually given those spa treatments, but the extra marbling is there and worth a try.
Well, that's the dish on Angus Beef, so the next time you order an Angus Burger or buy Angus Beef at the market you know what you'll be getting.
Any other favorite ingredients or dishes you'd like us to highlight? Post them in the comments section or on our Facebook page! And while you're at it, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get helpful updates in your news feed.
Posted by FoodPair at 11:57 AM