You’ve Never Tasted Beef Like This Before

After 60 years as a fine-dining restaurant and steakhouse, Duba’s Restaurant was known throughout West Michigan as one of its finest. A son of the third generation of the Duba’s Restaurant Family has devoted years to an on-going quest for the country’s best beef. He is convinced that the best beef comes from heritage, grass-fed cattle. But that’s only the beginning! This guide highlights the five key factors that make for the best-tasting beef, the five factors that we look for in the small farms and ranches with which we partner. And it all begins with pasture…

PastureUnlike grass-fed beef, conventional grain-fed beef yields meat with uniformly bland flavor. If grain-fed beef were beer, it would be Budweiser: very predictable but very uninteresting when compared to craft beers. Grass-fed beef, by contrast, yields meat with expressive flavor, full of complexity–every bit as unique as the land on which it was raised. Like wine, pasture-raised beef has terroir: the ability to taste the geography in food (and drink). When farmer and author Forrest Prichard tried pasture-raised beef for the first time, he had this to say:

From the first bite, my palate sang praises…The delicate crunch of the caramelized exterior was perfectly balanced with the lightly earthy flavors of the rarer meat beneath…distinctive notes of black walnut and warm oak leaves, a bouquet of orchard grass on a sunlit day (Forrest Pritchard in Gaining Ground with a forward by Joel Salatin)Cattle at sunset

MaturityA 12-year old Scotch is good. But a 15 or 20-year Scotch is even better. The maturity of a steer or cow at harvest affects the quality of its beef for, as the adage goes, “Age imparts flavor.” This is why Mark Schatzker, author of Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef, emphatically states:

 The most important question to ask is age at slaughter. For flavor reasons, be wary of steak from a cow younger than 20 months.” (“Having a Cow About Steak Quality”, The Wall Street Journal)

Heritage beef breeds have maturity built into their genetics–they grow slowly, which gives them an unfair taste advantage.

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BreedAfter millennia, farmers have distinguished certain cattle breeds as producing exceptional beef. These farmers have also played a role in developing the beef breeds. For the past 100 years, however, the conventional beef industry has selected breeds on their ability to yield more beef, quickly. They have further enhanced that yield through the use of growth hormones, this, to the detriment of quality and flavor. The savvy buyer focuses on those cattle breeds that history has shown to provide beef of the highest caliber, heritage breeds like the Highland, Red Poll, Shorthorn, and others.

‘Quantity and quality are two opposing goals,’ [Temple] Grandin pronounced, neatly diagnosing the central problem of today’s meat industry. It didn’t matter how quantity was cranked up—hormones, genetics, drugs—there was always a price to be paid in quality.” (As Quoted in Steak: One Man’s Search for the Tastiest Piece of Beef, Schatzker)

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CraftRaising beef on pasture is an art-form requiring an expertise that comes with time. Done rightly, grass fed beef will be the best you’ve ever had. Done incorrectly, well, you might as well stick with conventional beef. We partner with seasoned farmers who have been at it for years, whose expertise of land and livestock consistently translates into exceptional beef. We look, furthermore, for newer farmers who stand on the shoulders of giants, employing time-honored traditional farming practices that have consistently yielded superior results.
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Dry-AgingThe country’s finest steakhouses dry-age their beef. Why? Dry-aging tenderizes meat while concentrating and enhancing its flavor. A week to 14 days of dry-aging is good, but we aim for at least 21 days of dry-aging: a rare find, indeed!
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dividerThe Highlander Flight
For those who want to taste first-hand the interplay of these five factors of great beef, we’ve created a package with you in mind: the Highlander Flight of Beef. It features Highland beef from the world’s oldest cattle breed: Scottish Highland cattle. Coming from two of the country’s most highly-esteemed Highland farms, you’ll receive a total of six pounds of Highland beef, representing three different beeves. Each comes in its own package with notes on the farm, terroir, aging, and maturity. Try them side-by-side–as “top-shelf” hamburgers–to experience the distinctive flavors of each for under $5 per 1/3 pound burger (this includes shipping costs!).
dividerA Peronal Introduction
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As online merchants of heritage meats, we at Duba & Company have set up our beef product pages to reflect the importance of these five factors so you can shop with confidence. And, since we’re relentlessly scouring the land for the best in grass-fed heritage beef, we encourage you to visit our product pages often. There, you’ll always find something new and exciting; we love introducing our customers to new farms and new breeds that represent the “color palate of beef flavors” that can be found in heritage meats.