If you’ve read my posts in the past, you know I seldom write a “bad” review. While I may be dissatisfied with some aspect of a visit to a restaurant or with a product I try at home, I almost always try and find something redeeming about the experience. Although many people would dispute what I am about to say, I do try and look for the positives in life.
I am generally not inclined to purchase food products that include on the label some form or fashion of the following words: “may contain up to (or be enhanced with ) a XX % of ‘solution.’ The solution is usually a combination of brine (salt water) and flavorings, designed for two things: to increase the weight of a product at retail, and to act as a ‘marinade’ both for flavor and breaking down tough muscle meats.
You most frequently see it on processed (raw) chicken, and those ‘pork tenderloins’ that come in various flavors. While I don’t object, largely, to flavor enhancement, I am not thrilled with what the brines do to the texture of the food. In my opinion, the experience of chewing proteins that have been treated like this in no way resemble the texture of eating untreated beef, poultry, or pork.
One can easily see the appeal to food manufacturers and retailers , especially if 20 % of the weight you are paying for is salt water (at multiple dollars per pound).
It also allows manufacturers to take ‘grade b’ (my term) product and amp it up to resemble a premium product. Clever.
The Great American Steak Company is a division of Green Bay based American Food Group, a marketing and distribution company that sells ‘fresh’ meat under a number of different labels. It is part of Minnesota based Rosen’s Diversified, which claims to be the 5th largest beef processing company in the country, and is the Gopher State’s fifth largest privately held company, with revenues of $2.5 billion annually. The company’s materials says that they process over four million pounds of beef daily and ship their product to over thirty countries.
As to the actual product. The Great American Steak Company sells “bacon wrapped filet of beef” in single or double packaging (left); you can find these around town for between $4 – $8, and occasionally some store will have them at $1.99 each. (Considerably less than the price of hamburger, which should be a clue.)
It’s funny, I actually had these a few months ago and said largely favorable things. I don’t think I was drunk, but the same package, purchased recently, cannot be the same product I had months ago.
This was inedible. Period. I cooked two, using different prep methods, and neither were satisfactory. Not only are the lacking in any kind of ‘real’ beef taste, the tactile experience is akin to chewing on a rubber ball. Really.
These ‘steaks’ are made by a production subsidiary of Great American / Rosen, called Skylark Meats, in Omaha (pictured below). On Skylark’s website, they claim to be “America’s largest producer of sliced liver.” I’m not sure that’s much of a distinction, how many people even eat liver anymore (felines excepted). Their puff piece goes on to say they furnish premium beef cuts to some of “America’s finest restaurants,” but hopefully these beef filets are not included and I haven’t fallen prey to paying restaurant prices for the “filets” in the past.
The content label lists the primary element as “Beef Chuck Tender” and the packaging further says “hand trimmed.” “Up to a 20% solution” is also on the label, with an asterisk, but there is no further reference to the asterisk on the packaging.
Other ingredients include some of the MSG substitutes food companies are using these days, including “torula yeast.” You probably don’t want to click on that link and read about that product.
In short, this product is absolutely awful. I’m pretty confident that some future generations won’t ever get to eat “real food,” and this kind of manufacturing is the harbinger of those times.
While one can’t be sure, it is implied from the packaging this is a single cut of muscle, as opposed to a pressed, chopped, and form piece of meat. (Have you seen those hundreds of identical steaks on restaurant buffets? Wow. What technology.).
In searching the internet for news about Great American, Rosen, and Skylark, it appears that Skylark is also a manufacturer of the steaks one might purchase at a tent in a parking lot, or off a door to door truck. Have you heard those pitches? What a scream! “Yes ma’am, I was supposed to deliver this to your neighbor, but they aren’t home, so I’m willing to sell you this 20 pound box of steaks for half price…” LOL.
You get what you pay for. Even at $1.99 for 5 ounces of “beef,” I feel like I overpaid. I’ll be reluctant to try any other products from any of Rosen’s operating companies.
I fully realize that at four million pounds of production a day, this 5 ounce steak represents .0000001 % of their production, if my math is correct. Nevertheless, I wish they’d try and make it more palatable in general. Or ship it off to one of those 32 countries they export to.
great american steak company