grass-fed

Ask A Butcher // What's The Teres Major?

ask_a_butcher This will be a regular series, in which our St. Paul Meat Shop butchers, Scott and Peter, answer your questions about meat! Sign up for our emails and never miss a post.

Q: What sort of cut is the teres major and how should I prepare it?

A: Teres major is a cut of beef that comes from the chuck section of the cow, right below its front leg. It is about the size of a pork tenderloin and happens to be the second most tender cut from a cow (after the tenderloin, of course). Fun fact: Teres major takes its name from the same spot in human anatomy. Whaaat?!

Teres major has a much richer flavor than beef tenderloin, however. Because this cut comes from a very active part of the cow's body, it experiences greater blood flow and thus develops more complexity. Normally, lots of physical activity leads to tougher meat. However, because teres major sits just below the cow's leg, it remains melty tender with all the added flavor benefits of the leg.

Treat this cut very simply. Salt and pepper it and then roast or grill it whole to your desired temperature (we like medium rare). Grass-fed beef tends to taste pretty great on its own, without much special treatment. Why? Typically, cows that are corn-fed fatten up quickly and get sent to slaughter around 8-10 months old. Grass-fed cows have more time to mature and develop rich flavor. At our butcher shop, we usually receive our cows (from Hidden Stream Farm in Elgin, Minnesota) when they're 28-30 months old.

**Note: Teres major is a rarer (but affordable) cut, which means our shop on Grand Ave carries a limited number of them every week. Something to keep in mind when you're planning dinner! 

On Managing a Meat Shop

nick_blog_star Here’s an interesting etymology: the word “manage” comes from the Italian “manèggiare,” or, “to put a horse through its paces” on the “manège,” a training area particularly for racing horses. What’s it been like managing a meat shop? I feel like I’ve had to learn the rules of horse racing, the regulations of horse training, the basics of horse physiology, and the philosophy of what it means to race horses, all while on horseback (though I’ve had lots of help). It’s been invigorating and fun, though I’d be lying if I told you my head wasn’t spinning. I think I like the way the horse training etymology works as a metaphor. Managing a meat shop, training a racing horse—mostly, what you are being asked to do is to take care of something that is important.

The role that I play as the general, day-to-day manager of the St. Paul Meat Shop is one of ensuring the soundness of its operations, and the delivery of the highest-possible quality of customer service. This latter item is something that I, personally, have cared about for a long time (of course, we are nothing—we are less than nothing—without being really, really on top of our day-to-day basic stuff!). I remember as a child growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, walking into Zingerman’s Delicatessen, being greeted by workers there who treated my family as if they already knew us, and then being given transcendentally delicious food to eat—the kind of food that, after the first bite, you just know is better than almost everything else you’ve ever eaten. The completeness of that experience is rare and special. I think we offer it at our cheese shops already: you can walk in, have somebody who is really nice in a basic human way offer you an artisanally-crafted, mind-blowingly tasty piece of cheese, and then be transported somewhere else by way of your taste buds.

The vision we have for the Meat Shop is very similar. We believe that you can raise animals for meat in an artisanal way—this goes beyond buzzwords like organic, local, sustainable, grass-fed, although these are all awesome principles and necessarily a part of what we do. The big idea is that there are some producers nearby who are really passionate about delicious meat, and have the know-how to make it happen. In theory, it’s not so different from affinage, or the art of aging or finishing a cheese. “Finishing” an animal on grass is an art, and “grass-fed,” on its own, simply isn't a guarantor of taste. We’ve found four farming partners who are doing great stuff, and we’re proud to be a market for them.

Returning to our horse racing metaphor, I’m only a trainer. The Meat Shop is the product of the passion of many people, starting with the farmers who raise their animals the way they believe is right, even in the face of a market that doesn’t always reward that conviction; continuing to our management and butchering team, whose collective belief in what food should taste like and what a retail experience should feel like is what animates our existence; and our amazing owner, who cares about good food, good wine, and about creating special opportunities for people to pursue these passions.

My part in this is to ensure we’re a reliable and friendly place to get awesome meat, but much of our shop’s functionality and personality is owed to our high-functioning and personable group of jockeys behind the counter, whom I would gladly buy meat from, but would also, were I in the neighborhood, perhaps just pop in to say hi to and maybe even consult for general advice. Managing a meat shop has been a lot of fun and a lot of hard work so far—now that we’re off to the races I hope you’ll come by and say “what’s up” to us soon!

--Nick Mangigian, Manager of the St. Paul Meat Shop