Given the virtual cornucopia of fake meat products we've reviewed, up to and including the challengingly named Beefless Ground Beef, it's only fair if we review some real actual meat every once in a while, lest you start believin' we're some sort of rogue vegetarians trying to clobber you into our way of living or something. That's not how we roll.
Truth be told, Sandy and I don't eat a lot of meat, particularly, and when we do it's usually chicken or fish, and not red meat so much. It was a pretty rare treat (more so for me) when I picked up a pack of steaks to grill up the other week in a last ditch effort to get her iron up before our kid makes his/her grand debut literally any day now. Other than that, other than the occasional dinner at a place like Burgatory or the sporadic cook out burger, beef just isn't one of our usual purchases for whatever reason.
So anyways, for the reason mentioned above, last trip we picked up Trader Joe's Grass Fed Angus Beef to slap on the grill for some burger lovin'. There's plenty of grass-fed vs. corn/grain-fed debates you can read elsewhere on the Interwebs, so I'm not really going to be delving into those here. Instead, as usual, I'll be focusing on taste. Tell ya what: it makes a darn good burger. I molded four good sized patties out of the one pound hunk we bought for $5.99. Sandy needs her burgers well done (or at least not one speck of pink in them), while I tend towards more of a medium, juicy burger. This beef gave us the best of both worlds. Our burgers, while cooked them all the way through and even a little charred on the outside, were still juicely dripping with every bite. And they tasted like good, solid, honest beef, too, with a nice beefy texture. In all, it worked well with the garlic salt and pepper I mixed in, and tasted great alongside the grilled green beans (slathered with chipotle olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt) for a classic summer time dinner. Good stuff.
There's one thing kinda nagging me about it, although it isn't necessarily fair. Trader Joe's by in large does well by me, but I've gotten enough produce that spoils way too quickly from them to fully trust it (hence going to local farmer's markets for that) and more times than not, the milk we buy from them goes bad well before the date on it (hence us always getting our milk at Target). We haven't had that issue with meat from TJ's as much but....see the top right corner of the package? "KEEP FROZEN," it says. That suggests to me that perhaps this isn't the freshest of meats if you have to buy it frozen and keep it frozen. I'm pretty sure that's one of the TJ's keeps their prices low - buy food that's close to it's expiration date and sell it for a discounted cost. For the beef, that's not as much of a hang-up for us, but I know that can be for some out there. That does, though, put folks like my wife and I in a bind where we have to cook the whole thing at once even though it's way too big for one meal. We now have two burgers in the freezer waiting to be reheated. That may be handy within a couple weeks. I'm just glad that there's official word from TJ's about their complete lack of pink slime offerings, thus to me making it worth ponying up a lil' extra for some at least semi-reputable meat.
Anyways, I liked our beef-full beef. Sandy did, too. I won't be able to quote her directly, but she said something along the lines of "Oooh man it was good, it was just what a pregnant woman needed, a big ol' chunk of CARNE to bite into that was all juice-going-everywhere-and-down-my-arms and delicious and stuff." Umm, okay. She went ahead and gave "about a four," noting that while way above fast food standard, she's not enough of a beef connoisseur to tell this TJ in-carne-ation apart from the truly great stuff. I don't know, it's pretty decent, and I'd say it's in similar quality to the beef we had in our tacos at my brother and sister in law's tonight. They get their beef from some free range hippie cow-huggin' happy farm kinda place, I think. Something around a four works for me, too.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Grass Fed Angus Beef: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons