A T-bone or a sirloin is a summer suppertime staple at our house.
After working all day, I can easily pair a steak with a quick potato option, garden veggies and biscuits or popovers and have the meal on the table in less than half an hour. And it’s consistently good, a meal we look forward to.
Earlier this year I sat in on a presentation given by a “grill master,” who personally owns and uses 36 different grills. Trust me when I say he’s a professional. He said there are four keys to the perfect steak: good equipment, good meat, good seasoning and good instructions.
That seems easy enough, but when any one of those factors is amiss it can leave consumers, who have just made a fairly significant investment to buy beef, with a bad taste in their mouths.
Good equipment is simply having the right tools for the job. That doesn’t mean fancy, but something that can maintain consistent heat and simply does its job. That’s not your department.
Good seasoning. Typically the chefs I hear from say with beef less is better. Salt and pepper are usually their first ingredients of choice. “Don’t overpower the beef,” they often say. Again, as a farmer or rancher, that’s not your area of expertise.
Good instructions. Beef can be intimidating. What cut works best for which application? How long does it cook and how can one tell if it’s done? Good questions are asked each and every day all across the U.S. That’s why we have programs like the Beef Checkoff. That’s why the beef industry is at “home and garden shows” and other consumer events, in the name of beef education. Sure, it’s a cause you support, and you might even get in on a grocery store demonstration now and then, but for most producers, that’s still a topic that you may prefer to delegate.
That leaves us with the last pillar: good meat. Now here’s where you come in.
You can’t influence what the consumer purchases. You have no control over what they decide to do with the beef when it gets to their house – they may even smother it in A.1. or, heaven forbid, ketchup! For the most part, tools and trade secrets are left up to others to share.
But you can make sure the beef buyers have a ready supply of consistent, high-quality, tasty and tender product to choose from.
Several years’ worth of decisions on your farm or ranch all culminate in that moment. After a brief session on the grill, a consumer decides whether or not that meal was worth it. They’ll see if it lives up to their expectations for time and money invested.
The grill master I met earlier this year takes his responsibility seriously. “My job as an educator and a product guy is to make a better grill and provide better instructions, so it highlights what you’re doing on the front end,” he said. “Your products are that much better because they’re grilled better.”
Now it’s your turn to hold up your end of the bargain.
Next time in Black Ink Steve Suther will look at what you know. Questions? E-mail email@example.com.