Some of the Finest Wagyu Comes From Texas
It all started with a few cows flown from Japan on a Boeing 747
Wagyu steaks are prized for their rich feel and delicate flavor due, mostly, to the beef’s marbling. The steaks also carry a hefty premium with restaurants charging top dollar for the opportunity to indulge in this buttery steak.
“Wagyu” translates to “Japanese cow”, but some of the best Wagyu is sourced from a ranch in Texas, according to Bowery Meat Company’s (BMC) executive chef, David DiSalvo. “I was in Texas visiting family when I discovered the steak about ten years ago at a restaurant in Dallas.”
DiSalvo was impressed by the steak, which comes from Akaushi (Japanese Red) cattle, raised by Fifth-generation cattle ranchers Ronald and Jordan Beeman, at HeartBrand Ranch in Harwood, Texas (about one-hour east of San Antonio). Akaushi, like Kobe, is Wagyu, however, Akaushi cattle were raised to withstand more challenging climates than its better-known and more-pampered Kobe cousins.
The Texas herd started in 1994, when a group of Texas businessmen flew eight cows and three bulls over from Japan on a Boeing 747 as part of a trade initiative between the U.S. and Japan. The cattlemen spend years building up the herd to where it now stands at about 14,000 head.
HeartBrand Ranch’s Jordan Beeman, a fifth-generation rancher, tells Broken Palate his ranch is a family business with a goal to be the best stewards of the cattle they can be. And, although most people associate Wagyu with heavily marbled steaks that almost melt in your mouth, his goal is to create beef that’s more like what American consumers are used to eating, while still offering steak that has good marbling and more healthy fats than what traditional beef has. To achieve this goal, the cattle are grass-fed for most of their lives, then switched to a high-energy grain diet. And, though Beeman stresses that HeartBrand is considered a “very small beef company”, it’s still the second largest American Wagyu producer, behind Snake River, a ranch that Beeman says is “a great business with great people”.
But what does this mean to hungry steak lovers?
BMC’s David DiSalvo says that HeartBrand steaks are a great alternative to American Angus steaks, which are generally fed corn. “This is a grass and pasture-raised animal, so it has a different flavor and it’s a healthier cut. The cattle are not fed hormones or given all kinds of junk. When it all comes down to it, you are what your food eats.'” DiSalvo adds that the steaks have nice marbling, but it’s not excessive. “It’s a clean, nice steak and it’s raised in America, humanely.”
At BMC, DiSalvo keeps things simple when preparing these special steaks. “We brush them with rendered fat and a little kosher salt and pepper. The meat should stand on its own merit.” The steak is served on a board with truffled fingerling potatoes and parmesan shishito peppers.
SUBSCRIBER DEAL: If you’re not in New York City (or if you want to impress some dinner guests with your culinary prowess), HeartBrand Beef ships steaks to your door. Broken Palate readers will receive 15 percent off their order with the code BMC15. To order, visit heartbrandbeef.com.