Meat in the mail. I know. It just sounds wrong. But if you write it off, you might just be missing out on some of the most succulentâ€”and hard-to-findâ€”cuts available these days.
I think most everyone knows Omaha Steaks. The catalogs start showing up in September for holiday gift-giving. (Or, if you’re like me and get every catalog known to man, they come year-round.)
Omaha Steaks has been around since 1917 and have been shipping their meat all over the country since 1952. They offer everything from fancy filets and burgers to chicken and porkâ€”as well as appetizers, sides, and desserts. I’d actually classify them as a more of a mail-order steakhouse, since you seem to be able to get the full restaurant experienceâ€”minus the coat check and valet, of course.
There are a lot of other, lesser-known companies, however, that’ll ship quality meats right to your door, too. Here are a few, along with some of their prettiest (and admittedly, most expensive) cuts.
Established in 1840, family-run Lobel’s of New York offers a huge selection of meats. You can get prime-grade beef there, as well as ultra-expensive American Wagyu beefâ€”which comes from cows that have been bred from Japanese Kobe beef stock. One 16-oz. Wagyu Dry-Aged Porterhouse steak (below) will run you about $130. (Relax, most of their beef is considerably less pricey.)
They also sell a 2-lb. Cowboy Steak (with the rib-bone already frenched), which can be tough to track down. One will set you back a cool $80.
It’s also a good order hard-to-find, thickly-marbled Japanese Kurobuta pork. Like many butchers that run a mail-order business, they also offer heat-and-serve meals. Perfect for when you want their meat, but don’t want to cook it yourself.
Lobel’s website is a great overall reference on how to cook meat, with one of the most extensive collections of animal anatomy charts I think I’ve ever seen, as well as loads of info on how to prepare each cut.
Allen Brothers is another butcher that’s been around since the late 1890s and is based in Chicago. They offer an array of meat, including prime-grade beef, Wagyu beef, lamb, veal, and birds. They also have a large selection of roasts. One 8-9 lb. Boned Tied Heart of Rib Roast (below) costs about $195.
They have a special section of beef that’s never been frozen, which means they pick it, vacuum seal it fresh, then ship it overnight to you by FedEx Priority Overnight.
Savenor’s Market, established in 1939, is a small butcher located in Boston. They have a smaller selection than Lobel’s and Allen Brothers (and their website is less slick), but their meat is absolutely top notch. Their prime sirloin strip (below) runs about $40 per pound.
Savenor’s also is doing something this year called The Butcher Series 2008, where proprietor Ron Savenor gives lessons in the “lost art of butchering.” Call (617) 576-0214 for more information.
Kansas City Steak Company
In business since 1932, the Kansas City Steak Company is a family-run butchery that has a good selection of meat and poultry. Six of these 16-oz. prime-grade strip steaks run about $190.
Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Company
Located in Wyoming, the Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Company has been proudly selling its bison and elk since 1947. Buffalo is much lower in fat and cholesterol than regular beef, and has more protein and iron. It has a really rich, beefy taste. We actually eat a lot of buffaloâ€”especially burgersâ€”so we’re always excited to find new sources. Five pounds of burger patties sells for about $52.
They also sell a variety of buffalo and elk steaks and roasts, as well as trout, ham, and bacon.
A few more for good measure
Here are a few more places to round out our list.
Straub’s has been in business in St. Louis since 1901. They sell a variety of meats, as well as something called Miss. Hulling’s Split Layer Cake, which sounds old-fashioned and divine.
Taste of Texas sells a range of cuts by mail, and also offers a nice selection of steak accessories (knives, grill sets, etc.), as well as a few different kinds of mail order steak-of-the-month type clubs.