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I have learned more the past month, about the beef industry and the beef we purchase and eat, then I ever thought I would – this is a very good thing!  Being a regular reader you know how I was appalled but intrigued, when I found out that the beef we purchased, while in Montana, was not from Montana;  but, instead imported from either the USA, Mexico or Canada.    Shortly after that post I received an email from Le Cense saying they were shipping us some steaks out to us.  Now this was funny being we were just in Dillon, MT and did not have the access nor the resources to try out the beef while there.  As well, due to this post, I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie of The Oliver Ranch Company, they  hand-select Artisan Ranchers who produce delicious (we have yet to try, but am pretty sure of it) cuts of meat.  Carrie enlightened me to how the industry works, from how the cattle is raised at birth to slaughter – it truly was fascinating and I cannot wait to suck all this knowledge in even more so in 2009.

But at this time I am going to go back to the steak tasting we did using one of the the Le Cense steaks and 3 other brands.  While I was in Reno last week I sucked in my sister and brother inlaw as well as two friends to be the guinea pigs for our 1st Chez Us steak tasting.  I used the Le Cense steak as well as two steaks I purchased at Whole Foods – one being grass feed and the other being hormone free (I will list the ranches later), the other two steaks I purchased at Raleys and they were just your run of the mill, “could be from the USA, Canada or Mexico” beef.

I laid out all five steaks on a platter, no seasonings and we headed to the grill – 4 minutes each side.  Then we thinly sliced each steak, very carefully, as to not touch each other or mix them up.  I gave each of my tasters a sheet of paper (thanks for the tasting sheets, Carrie) so they could take their notes.  We opened a serious bottle of Stags Leap, sat down and started our home work.  The only rule was that they had to try the steaks first, no eating anything else until all 5 had been tasted.  Very interesting …..

The steaks were labeled as such:  1 (Le Cense), 2 (WF Hormone free steak), 3 (Raleys), 4 (WF Grass Feed) and 5 (Raleys).

Here are the results by taster (the * means it was their favorite):

Shawn:

1 – flavor was missing, kind of dry, bland.

2 – GOOD STEAK

3 – Nothing to say

4 – Gamey, earthy like dirt, this steak tasted like an old buck deer

5 – GOOD STEAK   *

Daniele:

1 – Like butter, coats palette, earthy.  GOOD STEAK  *

2 – Mushy, earthy

3 – Like butter, earthy

4 – Firm, gamey, rich – spit out

5 – No notes

Jim:

1 – Firm, dry/bit abrasive, like cotton, boring, earthy

2 – Very tender, buttery, moist, complex and rich  *

3 – Moist, earthy

4 – Firm, oily, rrequired more chewing to break it down, rich with hints of berry

5 – Moist, earthy

Erica:

1 – no notes

2 – Mild

3 – Buttery

4 – Oily, complex, pungent, gamey

5 – Buttery, smooth, earthy   *

Denise:

1 – Chewy, course, oily, average tasting

2 – Buttery, moist, complex, very clean, tasted of roquerfort (after 1st tasting added salt)  *

3 – Chewy, rough, boring/bland

4 – Chewy, oily, gamey, earthy, very complex (liked better after adding salt)

5 -Chewing, film left on tongue, bland

Final results:

1 (Le Cense)  – 1 vote

2 (WF Hormone free steak)  – 2 votes

3 (Raleys) – 0

4  (WF Grass Feed)  – 0

5  (Raleys)  – 2 votes

At the end of the tasting, we grabbed salt and pepper, continued eating beef and noshed on pancetta oven roasted potatoes and a fantastic green salad with nuts and loads of blue cheese, while comparing our notes.  Only then did I tell them where each of the pieces of meat came from.

I was definitely surprised by the results as 3 and 5 were the same steak from the same place as well all steaks were cooked the same.  I really thought I would love the Le Cense as well as the Grass Feed from WF, as this is primarily what we eat at home but I didn’t.  I guess it goes to show that beef, too is like art or wine, it is really up to personal taste when it comes to flavor.  Now to educate everyone on how and where they get their food, is an entirely another subject.

We have 3 more steaks from Le Cense, I cannot wait to do another steak tasting with others, to see how their tastebuds work!

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