Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Butcher Block - North Durango Location, Las Vegas!



27 oz Tomahawk Ribeye




Kobe Beef Tri-Tip Steak


Gepökelte auf Currygewürz Spätzle mit Gemüse und Weinbrand Creme Fraiche

Tomahawk Chop with Garlic Padrón Pepper Bordeaux Blanc Crème and Truffe Noir Gouda Mashed Potato

Dry Cured Five Spice Brazilian Pepper Kobe Tri-Tip Steak with Guava Gastrique ~ Sesame Eggplant, Finger Potatoes, Black Radish and Bermuda Onion
Wild Boar Tenderloin Wellington aux Maple Canadiennne Whiskey Demi Glace ~ Duplex du Créme Kabocha Pommes de Terre

When seeking quality meat, there is only one place to go.  A good butcher shop!  

     Butcher shops are usually the only place where USDA Prime Grade Beef can be found.  USDA Prime Beef has to pass strict quality standards that govern the age, sex and health of the cattle.  The high fat marbling percentage in the grain of USDA Prime Beef has to meet higher standards.  When looking at a Prime Grade Beef Steak, the fat marbling is easy to notice.  The fat marbling is what gives a steak its rich flavor and it makes a steak tender.  
     Backyard char gill steak aficionados and chefs at fine dining steakhouses prefer Prime Grade Beef Steaks, because this grade of beef is practically guaranteed to provide the best steak eating experience.  Those who crave the classic rich flavor of marbled steaks from the mid 1900's, can revive those memories with USDA Prime Beef.  
     USDA Prime Grade Beef is limited in availability, because only a small percentage of cattle meet the strict grading standards, so Prime Beef does command a price.  The Price of Prime Grade Beef is usually close to twice the price of USDA Choice Grade Beef.  When quality is a high priority, Prime Grade Beef is the best choice.  
     
     Ever since I first stepped through the doors at The Butcher Block in Las Vegas las year, I became a regular customer.  This butcher shop maintains high quality standards and they market a nice selection of products.  Everything from curing salt blends to wild game can be found at The Butcher Block.  USDA Prime Beef Steaks are abundant and trendy specialty cuts, like Tomahawk Ribeye Steaks are available.  This is one of the few butcher shops that offers USDA Prime+ Wagyu and Prime+ Kobe Beef.  
     A nice selection of offals, veal, fish, rabbit, wild game, specialty sausages and wild game birds can be found at The Butcher Block.  Most of these products are sealed in cryovac plastic and frozen, so the freshness and quality is maintained.  Cryovac packaging prevents freezer burn and oxidation.  Cryovac vacuum packaging also helps to limit molecular expansion when meat is frozen.  When cryovac packaged fish is thawed out, the fish looks like it was just filleted off of the bone and even the tiny veins in the meat can still be seen.  
      Offals have a very short shelf life, because organ meat is highly susceptible to pathogenic contamination.  It only takes a few hours for oxidation damage to occur when offals are held in open air in a meat display case.  Signs of oxidation on offals are similar to pathogen contamination signs, so distinguishing why discoloration occurred is not easy to do.  In this modern age, a lengthy speech about how to select fresh offals and how to judge the freshness of offals can be avoided altogether.  Offals really benefit from cryovac packaging and freezing!  Frozen cryovac packages of offals are what I prefer to purchase, because the quality is practically guaranteed to be perfect.  The Butcher Block offers frozen cryovac packages of veal kidneys, caul fat, tripe, sweetbreads, brains and plenty more.  Even Rocky Mountain Oysters can be found at this butcher shop.  There is nothing like surprising guests at a backyard pool party with a platter of fried mountain oysters piled high!
      
     Duck tongue tongue can be found at the Butcher Block.  Duck tongues actually a gourmet item in Asia and they are rarely seen in markets outside of Chinatown.  Duck tongues are usually marinated in a soy sauce mixture and stir fried, then they are braised till they become tender.  Duck tongues appetizers are finger food at its best!  

     The Butcher Block also stocks turkey, capon, chicken and cuts of pork.  I needed a high quality pork loin chop for a German cured pork chop recipe and the pork chops at the local grocery store looked awful.  I ended up taking a pass on the grocery store pork and I found better quality pork chops at The Butcher Block.  This butcher shop sells top quality meaty racks of ribs and they sell the oversize thick pork chops that are popular with backyard chargrill chefs.  
     This butcher shop also offers fresh hand crafted traditional sausages and seasonal sausages.  They recently had Guinness Stout Sausages for St Patty's Day, but these specialty sausages were sold out long before I could get to the butcher shop late in the day.  It does pay to be an early riser when shopping at butcher shops, because hot selling items move quickly.  
        
     The selection of wild game and free range farmed wild game is extensive at The Butcher Block.  USDA Certified Wild Game, like American Bison, elk, venison, rabbit, antelope, emu, ostrich and kangaroo are usually offered as frozen cryovac packaged products.  Even alligator and plump frog legs can sometimes be found in the freezer section.  Most wild game meats are limited in availability, so the variety of products that are offered changes from day to day.  Special wild game requests and availability questions should be directed to the butcher.  This Butcher Shop is capable of obtaining just about any kind of certified wild game meat for a fair price.  
     As readers know, I like featuring wild game recipes and alternative organic meat recipes at this website.  An entire index page is devoted for these recipes.  I purchased a pair of wild boar tenderloins at The Butcher Block a few months ago and I published a nice Forcemeat Encrusted Wild Boar Tenderloin recipe during the holiday season.  The meat for several elk, venison and buffalo recipes in this website were also purchased at this butcher shop.      
     
     While at The Butcher Block, I purchased a 27 oz USDA Prime Grade Tomahawk Chop Steak.  A Tomahawk Chop is a full ribeye steak with the bone attached.  The bone is Frenched and the fat cap is usually retained and trimmed to standard dimensions.  The ribeye fat cap can be removed, so only the lean round "eye" of the steak is presented, but this can dramatically raise the price, especially at a fine dining restaurant.  
     At restaurants, Tomahawk Chops are not cheap.  The price of a whole minimally trimmed Prime Grade Tomahawk Chop on a fine dining menu is usually between $74 and $89.  A fully trimmed lean Tomahawk Chop starts at about $85 on the fine dining restaurant menu.  For the last few years, Prime Grade Tomahawk Chops could only be found at fine dining restaurants and very few butchers offered these steaks to the general public.  
     Instead of selling Tomahawk Chops, many butchers prefer to sell "Delmonico" ribeye steaks with the bone attached because, there is far less trimmings and the price per pound can be reduced for quicker sales.  Converting a Bone-in Delmonico Steak to a Tomahawk Chop is easy to do in a home kitchen, but there can be more than 1 pound of fatty scrap meat that goes to waste when the steak is trimmed.  From a food cost perspective this conversion is not cost effective.  
     Buying a Prime Grade Tomahawk Steak that a butcher fabricated does save plenty of money over the cost of buying a Tomahawk Ribeye at a restaurant.  As mentioned earlier, Prime Grade Beef costs about twice as much as Choice Grade Beef and it is well worth the extra price.  Bones sell for a low price and the price of the rib bone is part of the Tomahawk Chop sales price equation.  Since a Tomahawk Chop is cut between rib bones, the size of the steak is usually twice as big as a standard ribeye steak portion.  The Prime Grade Tomahawk Chop in the picture above weighed over 27 ounces.  The price of this steak at the Butcher Block was about $35 and this is less than half the price of a Tomahawk on a restaurant menu, so the value was good.          
     The reason why Tomahawk Chops are so popular is obvious.  These huge steak look impressive on a plate!  If there is any steak that can cause the jaws of guests to drop in awe at a backyard chargrill dinner part, the Tomahawk Chop is it!  One look at a Tomahawk Chop and the primal hunter gatherer instincts are awakened.  
     Tomahawk Chops are way too big for most people to eat in one sitting and there is no shame in sharing one of these steaks.  When a couple of guests who have a "hunter gatherer mentality" share a Tomahawk Steak, the half of the steak that has the bone attached should go to the dominant personality.  This can enable animalistic comments to be made by the pride, while observing the dominant lion gnawing the meat off of the bone.  Tomahawk Chops have a way of bringing the animal instincts out, even in a timid steak lover!        
     Tomahawk Chops do suit the indulgent needs of backyard char grill chefs who like to show off in a big way.  First of all, Tomahawk Chops are so big that a large chargrill is needed.  If 20 Tomahawk Chops need to be cooked for a backyard chargrill party, then the char grill will have to be at least 4' or 5' wide.  Since custom chargrills are a modern status symbol that earns instant respect, hosting a Tomahawk Chop dinner party might be just the excuse that a backyard chargrill enthusiast needs for upgrading the old BBQ grill to a new custom one of a kind new state of the art char grill model! 

     Kobe Beef has been popular at fine dining restaurant menus for a couple of decades, but because of the high price, Kobe Beef has had limited appeal in home kitchens.  Plenty of attention is needed when cooking Kobe Beef, because of the extra high fat marbling percentage.  Kobe Beef can literally lose as much fat as foie gras when it is seared, if it is overcooked.  Kobe Beef is best when it is quickly seared and served very rare.  
     I purchased an 8 ounce Kobe Beef Tri-Tip Steak at the Butcher Block and I could not immediately decide how to prepare the steak.  When in doubt and when no immediate plans are made, preserving the steak is not a bad option.  No other chef that I know of has ever dry cured a Kobe Beef Tri-Tip Steak, so breaking new ground seemed like a good idea.  Basically the fat marbling percentage is so high in Kobe Beef, that the meat retains plenty of moisture and tenderness even after dry curing.  The texture of the Kobe Beef becomes more dense after dry curing and the rich steak flavor intensifies.  
     I dry cured the Kobe Beef Tri-Tip Steak for 5 days with Morton Tender Quick curing salt blend, Chinese Five Spice Powder, Brazilian Pepper, with a touch of soy sauce and worcestershire.  The color of the meat became a dark purple color like salami.  The flavor can only be described as French Asian Fusion Cuisine Corned Kobe Beef.  Asian Fusion Corned Beef?  Made with pricey USDA Prime+ Kobe Beef?  Many anally retentive chefs would say that this is crazy and this is a waste of Kobe Beef.  Chefs who have imagination would be intrigued by the idea.  As one can see, the cured Kobe Beef in the picture above really looks like it has plenty of character and it is a nice departure from how chefs currently prepare Kobe Beef.  

     On a side note, the entrees in the pictures above have not been published as recipes as of yet.   I have a stack of food website articles to write that keeps on growing, because I currently have to spend over 80 hours a week writing college homework.  The recipes for the entrees that were made with recently purchased meat products from The Butcher Block will be published as soon as possible.  Creative cooking inspiration is easy to find when top quality meats are selected.  When spending a few dollars more for a great steak, special attention should be given to making nice sauces and accompaniments. 
     One published recipe that was made with recent food purchases at The Butcher Block was the Trinidad Scorpion Fried Chicken recipe.  This recipe was made with Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce.  Fans of the almighty hot chile pepper will be happy to know that The Butcher Block carries a full line of Dave's Gourmet hot pepper products.  They even have Dave's Burning Nuts in stock.  Just like the label says, "Everybody is talking about Dave's Burning Nuts!" 

     The Butcher Block has two locations in Las Vegas.  I recently visited the shop at 6440 North Durango.  The entrance to the plaza actually faces Centennial Center Boulevard near the intersection of Durango.  This location is close to the 215 Beltway and North Highway 95, so it is convenient for commuters who travel the northwest Las Vegas and Summerlin corridor.  The Butcher Block has another location at 7625 South Rainbow Boulevard.  I wrote a nice article about this store location last year.  Here is the hyperlink for the article:  The Butcher Block, Las Vegas! 

     I highly recommend The Butcher Block for home cooks who prefer top quality meat products!  This butcher shop offers top quality USDA Prime Grade Beef, wild game, pork chops and specialty sausages.  The backyard chargrill season is here and these items will be in high demand.  Now Las Vegas locals that browse this food website know where to find big thick Tomahawk Chop Steaks that will simply leave dinner guests awestruck!  Yum!  ...  Shawna  

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