Each menu idea, each recipe, each meal, deserves a special selection of exceptional ingredients, and when it comes to beef, Belmont Butchery takes pride in offering you a chance to make a selection from a far wider list than you'll find in a grocery store.
Conventional 100% Certified Angus beef.
Local, Pasture raised beef.
Local, Grass-fed Beef.
Why offer locally raised beef? The passion and joy of the local farmer raising very special cattle means a spectacular selection of robust flavours you wouldn't otherwise be able to taste! Each of the local farms who provide us with beef offer their unique take on what makes for an exceptional cut of meat. By bringing these different farms to your table, Belmont offers you a tremendous variety of selection - and that sets us apart from everyone else in Richmond and central Virginia.
Skyline Premium Meats in Luray, Virginia delivers our pasture-raised beef. They breed and rear their own Angus - Simmental cross and raise them on pasture, where they are fattened on grain that they raise themselves. Skyline Beef is 100% natural, they do not use growth hormones or antibiotics.
Gryffon's Aerie is located on the far side of Charlottesville and is better than organic! They breed and raised Red Devon cattle on lush pasture, they are not grain finished. These 'happy' cows are 100% natural, no hormones or other stuff.
Faith Farms is rearing Black Angus not far from Farmville, these are also all grass-fed and not grain finished. Again, Faith Farms beef is 100% natural.
What's the difference between grass-fed and grain-feed beef? The simple answer - a lot! Cows are designed to eat grass, not grain, but in the past 50 years farmers discovered that if they fed cows grain in addition to grass they can produce a different nuance to the flavour and texture of beef. The addition of grain to the diet produces a sweeter flavour, a more highly marbled appearance and a softer texture, while maintaining a grass-only diet produces a richer taste, a denser texture and a more robust flavour. See how cool having different choices can be?
Taken to extremes, a grain diet is a poor choice. Since cows can't properly digest grain, if their diet has too much grain they must be given antibiotics. And since time is money, they are given growth-hormone to grow to full size faster. When you see an antibiotic-free grain-fed cow, you can know their diet is carefully balanced to produce the best flavour while preserving the integrity of the process.
What about the conventionally available beef at Belmont? The 100% Certified Angus beef is the best conventional beef available. We carry top-tier Choice grade and Prime, depending on the cut. We make special note of the locally raised beef when it becomes available to us, and have the best conventional beef avalable all the time.
What do you mean by top-tier Choice or Prime? What do USDA grades mean? Beef is graded according to a quality scale - from best rating to worst, the scale is Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner. Only Prime, Choice and Select are sold to consumers as raw meat.
The top USDA grade, Prime, makes up only 1 - 2.5% of all beef processed in this country. The inspector takes in all sort of things when grading for Prime but even discriminating consumers mostly look at marbling, that network of fat that traverses throughout the meat. It's the marbling that gives the Prime cut the incredible rich, juicy, tender flavour and texture which speaks to the quality of excellent beef.
Choice is the USDA grade below Prime. About 45% of all graded beef is called Choice, so you can imagine that there is a huge range in quality within the grade! We only carry top-tier or 'high' Choice, the best you can get without being Prime (vs. 'low' Choice which is only slightly better than Select - and what grocery stores carry.) Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime, suited to dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts, such as those from the rump, round, and blade chuck, can also be cooked with dry heat, but be careful not to overcook them. Using a meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking and assures a safe internal temperature.
Select grade is the lowest of grades available to consumers. It is very lean and lacks marbling, this tends toward a less juicy and less tender piece of meat.
All cuts of meat are available in different grades. The cut of meat determines where it comes from (see the diagram below for information), while the grade of meat speaks to the quality.
FInding the right cut of meat is often the most neglected part of picking the right beef for your recipe, and is second only to quality in your selection process. Belmont's team of professional butchers can help you find the right cut of beef to meet your recipe, and your budget!
Which cuts work for which types of cooking? Belmont Butchery stocks a wide variety of beef cuts, and with a phone call or a word to one of our staff we can create any special cut you desire. Here's a quick sense of what great things you can make from different cuts of beef!