Friday, August 17, 2012

Austrian Butcher Style

 Back in the spring I had the opportunity to visit Peter Trixner who lives near Klagenfurt, Austria. Peter and his wife Petra own a beautiful ranch on a hillside overlooking the Austrian Alps in the distance. They are raising Tajima Wagyu and Tajima - Charolais crosses. These cattle are some of the first high end Japanese genetics found in Europe. The beef from their first slaughter was a bit lean and Peter was just beginning to understand the feeding regiment that it takes to reach the high fat scores typically found in these breeds. Peter is hoping to use his beef in the hotel restaurants that he holds interest in. The Lake's hotel located in nearby Portschach am Worthersee was featuring some of Peter's beef this summer on their fun casual menu. I worked with Peter to develop a dry aging room for the beef in the hotel so he can start to feature some real steakhouse quality taste. Lake's is a resort hotel that was featuring an ecclectic menu catering to summer guests and the wagyu would be a perfect fit.
 While I was there we broke down two beef sides at a local agricultural school. The school is for local farmers and features a state of the art slaughter room, excellent hydraulic lifts and a large cooler for aging the sides. They also have a processing room for sausage and salami making including a good size smokehouse. The butcher instructors watched as I broke down the beef in a US style which is very different from their traditional Austrian ways. We tend to make more cross cuts through muscle groups where they tend to leave muscle group intact.
 The Austrians also don't normally keep certain cuts as steak. Flank, skirt and hanger are rarely kept for dry cooking. I also took apart the sirloin into small sections for steak medallions. The cutting went on for the afternoon and we talked about our styles and the advantages for each. The outcomes were that we decided to leave some cuts whole to better dry age them and we also vacuum packed a lot of grinding meat. i think it was really important for Peter to see how much of his carcass is not going to be steak unless he hits the high marbling scores associated with Wagyu beef. Artisan butchery is much more about thinking outside of the norm and seeing another culture's style for cutting really allowed me to realize the possibilities. We cut the tenderloin out of the entire side and then cut a full loin and rib section, something none of us had ever done before. It was huge, like a giant center cut pork loin. Peter had his chef at the hotel dry age it for two weeks. I wish I could have gotten back to taste it.
  Whether its Austrian, Italian, Japanese, French or US style of cutting, there are always alternative ways to take apart a carcass.