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THE IMMINENT BEEF REBELLION

Updated: Apr 17

I love a great steak... And like many steak lovers, I'm now looking for less-expensive alternatives.


As beef prices rise, don't blame the ranchers... they are also paying more for everything.


In case you haven't noticed, everything is getting more expensive lately... and beef is getting WAY more expensive. It surely won't be long, I figure, before beef lovers rise up and start looking elsewhere for their soul-satsifying wallops of deliciously-charred animal protein and saturated fat. Fortunately, they needn't look far.


Tomahawk Steak, the epitome of overpriced ridiculousness... $90 a pop for prime, $150 for Wagyu.

Rather pricey, considering that half of it (by weight) is the cool-looking but inedible bone.


But never mind the Tomahawk Steak-- how about $30 a pound for a decent (choice-grade Angus) supermarket steak? Or $99 for a top-grade (boneless prime) ribeye? NO WAY, or so I and many others are increasingly saying. This leaves us beef lovers with two choices-- eat lesser cuts of beef, or find acceptable alternatives to beef.


Lesser cuts of beef-- e.g., chuck and short ribs-- are certainly flavorful... more so, even, than steaks. However, they are considered "lesser" and priced accordingly because they come from muscles toughened by regular exercise and therefore don't grill nicely into juicy, tender mouthfuls. The long and slow braising required to tenderize such cuts certainly results in mouth-wateringly delicious beefiness, as with a classic red wine pot roast. However, the braising process obviates (or maybe obliterates) two of the most important guilty pleasures of a great steak: the FAT and the SCORCH... two unhealthy things that we carnivores are hard-wired to crave.


We're all gonna die, whether we've lived on steak or tofu. I choose to live accordingly.


Can the luscious flavor of great steak like this be exactly replicated? Hell no. But there IS a viable substitute for one helluva lot less money-- the pork chop... so long as you find the RIGHT pork chop and do it culinary justice.



THE RIGHT PORK CHOP

Aside from "shoulder chops," pork chops generally are cross-cuts of the loin and may or may not include a bone. If you want to get as close as possible to a steak-like experience with a pork chop, look for a bone-in center cut pork chop, like this--


The pork equivalent of a Porterhouse steak. The dark region on the left

is the tenderloin, while the large section on the right is the loin. For the

record, a Porterhouse is a type of T-bone with a large section of tenderloin.


Now that we know the right cut, let's pick the right pig. You can easily spend beef-like money on porterhouse chops from one or another of pork's heritage breeds-- Kurobuta/Berkshire, Duroc, Iberico, and Mangalitsa. (See "THE YEAR OF THE PIG" for more info.) SNAKE RIVER FARMS, one of our Partners & Favorites, offers a Kurobuta Porterhouse for $21, sold in packages of six. However, they weigh in at only 9 ounces each... way too small for most of us, as we look for a minimum size of 16 ounces. Likewise, the online gourmet purveyor D'ARTAGNAN offers 6-packs of only slightly smallish (14 oz.) Kurobuta Porterhouse Steaks for the nominally attractive price of $90; however, their shipping costs ($45.95 for such an order) run way higher than the industry average.


Since we're looking for low-cost alternatives to beef, it might be best to just seek out the tastiest and best-farmed versions of the common White Yorkshire, which, when well-fed and responsibly-raised, can be perfectly delicious. The best of the lot might be from  PORTER ROAD, another one of of our Partners & Favorites. They offer top-quality, pasture-raised White Yorkshire porterhouse for just $15 per serving. (Click HERE.) Supermarket pork porterhouse of decent quality, meanwhile, can be had for as little as $5 a serving, which beats the crap out of a $150 Tomahawk no matter how great the latter's flavor.


COOKING METHODS

Every technique that puts a nice, delicious scorch on a beef porterhouse works equally well for its porcine equivalent-- grilling, iron-pan-searing, and broiling. HOWEVER-- unlike beef, pork benefits from a little help from a marinade, and for two reasons:


As compared to beef, pork has a less powerful intrinsic flavor (one often hears of "beefy" taste, but never "porky" taste) making pork something of a blank slate for a wide variety of added flavors ranging from apricot to Asian, from mild to spicy.


And reason number two-- perhaps more importantly, most marinades contain sugar (please avoid other sweeteners) and the sugar contributes mightily to the scorch we crave. There are hundreds of online recipes for pork chop marinades, and perhaps as many selections on the retail shelves. Here is a very simple version--


  • A Dab of Dijon Mustard

  • A Tablespoon of Chopped Garlic

  • A Splash of Soy Sauce (or Worcestershire, or Fish Sauce)

  • A Dab of REAL Ketchup (like THIS fabulous homemade version)

  • Brown Sugar

  • and just enough Salt to balance the sweetness.



Mix ingredients together and judiciously tweak until it tastes great as well as nicely balanced. Smear on both sides of the pork chops, then refrigerate overnight. Wipe off excess before cooking. Grill, sear, or broil to your heart's content. Pour yourself a bold red...


..and then, as you enjoy the scorched and fatty and savory wonderfulness, think of all the money you're saving by not having steak. It's like getting paid to live well.






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