But ABC7's Hungry Hound says a new company is now making its grass-fed beef available in Chicago.
Bill Kurtis' Tallgrass Beef has been in the market for a few years, but a common criticism is that it, like many other grass-fed products, is too lean. On the other hand, wagyu -- a breed originally from Japan that tends to have more intramuscular fat, and thus, more tender when cooked -- has always been corn-fed, which typically means the cattle has been given antibiotics, since cows aren't designed to digest corn. Enter a New Zealand company that now raises its wagyu cattle on a diet of 100 percent grass, and you've got a tender product that can also make claims to be better for you.
The French bistro classic of steak frites is taking on a slightly different hue at the well-regarded La Sardine in West Town, directly across the street from Harpo Studios. Instead of a corn-fed filet or strip or even flank steak, La Sardine is experimenting with a flatiron cut that is 100 percent grass fed and finished, and comes all the way from New Zealand.
"I think it's extremely tender, it's very good tasting, it's not dry; it's a wonderful product," said La Sardine chef and owner Jean-Claude Poilevey.
Why does Poilevey have to get the steak from so far away? Because this particular breed of wagyu has more marbling, or fat, than other grass-fed cattle, and results in a final product that he says is more akin to what he's had back home.
"Grass-fed beef we get over here now reminds me a lot of the one we have in France. You can have a very thin slice of beef and you can really sear and stay raw inside," he said.
The flatiron steak is simply grilled for a few minutes in each side, until medium rare. It rests for a few minutes, then it's sliced and plated over some sauteed spinach. A healthy mound of hand-cut frites offers plentiful starch on the side. Poilevey says his regulars haven't exactly been demanding grass-fed beef lately, but he thinks they will soon enough. He's satisfied knowing he has a reliable source that is consistently tender.
"I think they might start to care a little bit but they want their beef very tender and I'm not sure that they care how it is done as long as it's tender," Poilevey said.
111 N. Carpenter
- Other places carrying the New Zealand wagyu (flatiron cut):
- Basil Leaf Cafe
- MK the restaurant
- Hyatt O'Hare restaurant
- Jolane's (Glenview)
- The Tasty Palette (Evanston)
- Stained Glass (Evanston)
To read more about this cut of beef and the company behind it, read this blog post by Steve Dolinsky.