My final installment in checking out the beef products in the deli counter at Wal Mart. Most stores that I have been into seem to carry four brands of beef products; their house brand, “Prima Della,” (review) Sara Lee, Hormel, (review) and “Charley’s Pride.”
The latter three are not very well represented, the house brand takes up 60-70% of the counter offerings for deli meats.
My goal here was to simply see if any of these products, generally selling for half the price of many deli meats elsewhere, were worth putting on my regular shopping / consumption list. I did not bother with Sara Lee, as my past experience with the label was enough to know I wouldn’t be happy with the product.
Today I picked up Charley’s Pride Oven Roasted Roast Beef, at $6.99 pound. (My preferred brands, such as Carnegie or Vienna Beef, are usually $13- $14 per pound.
Charley’s Pride was started in 1969, and is domiciled in two smallish production facilities in Vernon, CA, about 20 miles SE of downtown Los Angeles.
Their website boasts that they sell “premium roast beef, corned beef, pastrami and other fine deli items that are exceptionally flavorful, tender and juicy.” Charley’s Pride sells their beef products in 4 or 8 pound chubs, and there is no way to tell what particular version of beef Wal Mart is offering, as the deli man takes a saran-wrapped chunk out of the deli counter for slicing. Whole chubs are on display in the counter.
While the roast gives the visual appearance of being a whole muscle cut, I’m disappointed to see in the ingredients on Pride’s website, that, depending on which type of roast beef Wal Mart buys, the cut may include an injection of >a 10%, 15%, 20% solution, or isolated soy protein added. While it has become nearly standard in the industry to have brine injections (to soften the muscle and add weight) or the infamous “isolated soy protein” (a protein and flavor booster), to me, these additives absolutely ruin the tactile pleasure of chewing beef.
The muscle is broken down (I imagine to create a standardized product, primarily), and you might as well (in my mind) be chewing one of those “lunch meats” that come in the packets at 2 or 3 for a dollar. You know, the ones where the only thing that varies is the label and color of the “meat.” Buddig is a good example of that. (Previous review).
Charley’s Pride offers a couple of upscale lines, which I’d like to try; they feature cuts made from American Kobe Beef and Kurobuta Ham. The product descriptions on the website don’t include any additives.
The end result of my decidedly unscientific study of the Wal Mart deli counter is that I will keep going to traditional delis and better groceries and paying 2x the cost of Wal Mart’s deli selections if I want a product that consistently satisfies me for appearance, flavor, and texture.
Afterthought: I found this product acceptable for use as filling for a “French Dip” style sandwich. The hot “au jus” takes it to the tolerable level.
Charleys Pride Roast Beef Review