The hottest trend in steak? Beef from old cows

Beef Web
Photo by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden

The newest trend in beef? Old cows.

Most beef cattle are slaughtered within two years after fast fattening. Your beef is young and it is oh-so-tender. Dairy cows, who gave their whole being to milk, are considered too tough for steak. Instead, they become burgers.

Well, not anymore. Enter the “mature meat movement.”

Inspired by the Spanish cider country tradition of “vaca vieja,” famed restaurants like Dan Barber’s Blue Hill and the Vegas steakhouse of celeb chef José Andrés have lately been touting the clean, milky, balanced flavor of older beef. According to a 2019 article in Modern Farmer, a steak from a six-year-old, grass-fed Holstein dairy cow can now fetch $325 at Michelin-starred restaurants.

Is the beef as tender as young, marbled, Prime Hereford? Probably not. Chefs say it’s all about the flavor: It’s more nuanced without the irony or oily off notes of some young beef. And the depth shows up in the meat’s luscious, burgundy color. Apparently, cattle age like wine.

Categories: Features, Food