Normally before we head up to the Utah mountains for skiing, I go to the butcher and get a load of meat to bring out here. Skiers eat meat. Other people pack skis and boots; we pack quail and pork ribs. This year, time got away from me and we came to Snowbird empty handed. And to make matters worse, there are no longer any grocery delivery services. (Anybody who remembers last year’s Albertson’s rotten banana fiasco, well even these guys won’t venture out their door anymore.)
First stop was Snider Bros. Meats and it is a marvel of a butcher store. The store is huge (maybe not by western US standards, but by NYC-girl standards its the biggest butcher shop I’ve even been in.) The meat counters were so huge and chock full, it was overwhelming. I had to take two or three trips around the counters before I could even start to put together my order. It’s a 3rd generation business and the passion is still there…it’s a marvelous thing to behold, this sort of satisfaction and pride in their product.
This is a rhetorical question: how come good butchers seem so proud and happy to share? We had a long discussion about grass fed v. corn fed beef, his customers are used to soft, tender meat and they don’t understand the high cost and different texture.
But the most exciting discovery was a cut of beef that I’d never heard of before: the Tri-Tip. Apparently it’s a west coast thing and it also goes by the name of Triangular roast. Kevin had been singing its praises the night before our shopping foray so I made a beeline to check out this mysterious cut. I started asking the butcher some more questions and it turns out its his favorite cut of meat as well. The tri-tip is cut from the bottom butt portion of the sirloin, and yes, it’s triangular in shape, about 2 inches thick and around 2.5 pounds. Snider Bros. Meat carries it plain and marinated and I opted for the plain since I really wanted to just taste the meat. The butcher also shared his favorite recipe (a roasted style tri-tip) and cautioned us that it must be cut across the grain. I felt like I was back in Italy, or Jefferies in NY, or the Italian Market in Philly where no meat is handed over without a recipe and a story.
After literally loading up the van with vegetables, food, wine, and flowers, we headed back up to our mountain retreat. To thank our intrepid grocery guide, we had him over for a tri-tip dinner. I wanted a simple preparation so that I could assess this cut’s potential, so we settled on the classic Italian tagliatta con balsamico, or sliced steak over a salad with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette. Tagliatta con balsamico sounds so much nicer, don’t you think?
Generously salted, seared in a hot pan and then finished in the oven for a few minutes, it smelled marvelous. Worried that it was too rare, I began slicing the thinner triangle portion and put the rest back in the oven. My dining companions gobbled the first few slices and we unanimously decided to slice the rest before it got too well done. It is delicious! Think rib eye, but softer because this cut is very well marbled. We ate the whole tri-tip… none of us thought it was possible, but you know, you keep talking and you reach for just one more slice, and then maybe there is one other little choice morsel….and then…well you get the picture.
Here’s my concern with this newly discovered cut: other people are going to discover it and instead of being a reasonable $5.98/lb its going to become fashionable...and expensive. So, we need to make a pact: we ask our butchers for this cut but we don’t tell anyone else. OK?
Last rhetorical question: If going to the butcher store is so much fun, why are butchers a vanishing breed? Spread the love and patronize your butcher.
Snider Bros. Meats
6245 South Highland Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84121