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What is Vintage Beef?

What is Vintage Beef?

IN WITH THE OLD?

Vintage beef boasts impressive marbling and a much more intense flavor than its younger counterparts: it is only slightly sweet, with intense earthiness and minerality on the palate (owing to a grass-fed diet). The fat takes on a yellow pigmentation with age, adding to the depth of flavor. The idea is that beef, much like wine, undergoes a constant transformation of taste and aroma as it ages. 

MEET KINDERHOOK FARM

Before 1940, the average age of a harvested animal was roughly 4-5 years; now, it’s 18-24 months. This drastic cut in maturation is owed to the introduction of grain and feedstock and the impetus to maximize yield as farms become increasingly industrialized. Some farmers, however, are going “against the grain” to prove that cows of five, eight, and even fifteen years have something to offer. 

Each year, Kinderhook Farm takes in 100-120 calves, and most productive mothers will stay about eight years. These dairy cows are raised on an incredibly diverse diet, a key to raising happy cattle. They are free to roam and graze for their whole lives, and as a result, their muscles become softened through their continuous use. 

FLAVOR VS. TENDERNESS 

No farmer producing vintage beef will contend that their product is better, per se, just different. Young cows are known for their buttery, almost silken tenderness. Mature cows, instead, are prized for their complex depth of flavor. Beef from cows four to six years old will have an earthy taste, while cows between 8-15 years will have the pungent and gamey taste that has exploded in popularity among chefs from New York to Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Valencia.

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PREPARING & PAIRING VINTAGE BEEF

Because vintage beef has such an intense, unique flavor, it's best to cook it simply.

1. Start by pulling it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you're ready to cook it to allow the steak to come up to room temperature.

2. Season simply. Hold off on the marinades and sauces – they'll likely overpower the prized flavor of the meat itself. Instead, season each steak with a little bit of kosher salt. Freshly ground black pepper will work here, too.

3. Fire it up! Heat your grill or skillet on high heat. Wait a few minutes for everything to warm up. You can test a skillet by flicking a few drops of water in the pan.

4. Throw it on. Add the steaks to the skillet or the grill. Let them sear on each side until a nice brown crust forms. Cook until preferred doneness.

5. Let 'em rest. After you remove the steaks from the pan or grill, let them rest on a cutting board for at least 5 minutes. This will allow the juices to seep back into the meat.

Interested in experiencing the flavor for yourself? Shop our vintage beef from Kinderhook Farm in-store or online!