The other day, I noticed that McDonald's pulled their Angus burgers off their menu in flavor of some doctored up Quarter Pounders. Good.
Because, seriously, an Angus burger makes as much sense as a Kobe Beef Hotdog.
And what is "Angus" vs. "Black Angus" vs. "Certified Angus".
First off, Angus is a breed of cattle raided for their beef. (As apposed to dairy cattle, which are raised for their milk.) There are plenty of other breeds of beef cattle, like Simmental, Hereford, and Limousins. And there are actually 2 Angus: Red & Black.
Angus does not denote quality.
Basically, for a cow to be Angus beef, it needs to be at least 51% Angus. That's it. Same for Black Angus, it has to be 51% black.
Guess what? Most beef cattle in the United States meet this criteria. Most of your USDA graded meat is Angus or an Angus mix (if hamburger).
To be "Certified Angus Beef" the cow must be at least 51% black, "exhibit Angus influence", and meet these 10 criteria:
- Modest or higher degree of marbling
- Medium or fine marbling texture
- "A" maturity (about 9 – 30 months)
- 10 to 16 square-inch rib-eye area
- Less than 1,000-pound hot carcass weight
- Less than 1-inch fat thickness
- Moderately thick or thicker muscling
- No hump on the neck exceeding 5 cm (2")
- Practically free of capillary rupture
- No dark cutting characteristics
- Usually black or red in color
(That's right, "Certified Angus" is racist, and prohibits Red Angus from being included.)
So, with "Certified Angus Beef", you're getting some tender, young, well marbled (juicy) beef. Which is important for steak, but not as important for something processed thru a meat grinder.
And with "USDA Prime" you're getting some tender, young, well marbled (juicy) beef that may well be Angus. Without the marketing hype.
The skill of the chef plays a huge part in how the steak turns out. A hack can turn the best steak in the world into inedible shoe leather and a chef can turn an average piece of meat into a fabulous dish. And if you want to grill a juicy burger, just go with the 75% lean all-ready. Save the low fat stuff for later.
So, does Angus really matter? Maybe. If you have super tasted buds, a discerning palate, and a trained chef to expertly prepare it. Otherwise, Prime is prime, Choice is second choice, and Select isn't.
Now, let the grilling begin.