Jonathan Wilkins, brother of Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins, succinctly summed up our recent test of Black Angus and Wagyu steaks from the Texas Beefhouse:
“The lede is this place in Whitehouse produces good beef,” he said, getting nods of approval from the seven other Posse test eaters in attendance. The Beefhouse farm is located near Whitehouse, not far from Tyler.
Jon is a finance guy, but as a retired newspaper dinosaur I loved the way he worked a great journalism term — lede, meaning the beginning of a story — into his summary. Simple, direct, exactly on point.
Our test cook, on a Weber grill at our house in Austin, had its beginnings a couple weeks earlier when Tyler DuVall from the Texas Beefhouse contacted the Posse. His family has raised beef in East Texas for many years, selling whole and half cows, butchered and delivered straight to customers freezers.
In the past year or so, Texas Beefhouse has started marketing individual cuts, including brisket, beef ribs and hamburger, to a wider audience, shipping direct to customers in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The cows are raised on grass and some grain. No hormones, antibiotics or steroids.
DuVall wanted us to taste the difference.
“I’m a little big headed about my beef,” DuVall said when we talked on the telephone. “But I think it’s pretty good.”
After we agreed to try some, DuVall emailed me: “Of course if you don’t like it then no hard feelings.”
No problem there. We all loved the steaks, Angus strip loin and ribeye, Wagyu sirloin, strip and ribeye.
When pressed, Chris Wilkins and I weren’t sure we could pick one cut over another. But most in the group favored Wagyu.
“The Wagyu sirloin, I think that was my best bite,” said Posse member Libby Gagne.
Veronica Gagne agreed, calling the meat very “juicy.”
“It is delicious, the Wagyu,” said Sherry Jacobson, who is not normally a steak eater.
“The Wagyu sirloin was the best,” said Raoul Gagne.
“Wagyu all day,” said Mike Gagne.
Mike, a gourmet cook and regular steak eater, complimented the flavor and texture of the Wagyu. He said that the beef he could get at Salt & Time’s butcher shop in Austin might even be better.
These cuts aren’t cheap. The Angus steaks we tested ran roughly $30 a pound and the Wagyu from the mid-$30s to more than $40 a pound. DuVall said the beef is aged a minimum of 21 days.
The meat was shipped from Texas Beefhouse and was still frozen when it arrived. We put it in the freezer and transferred it to the fridge a couple days ahead of our cook. We pulled it out an hour or so before the cook and let it sit at room temperature.
We tried to do the test just as we would a regular cookout with friends. One difference: We cooked the meat in batches, over a period of a couple hours, working our way from cuts with less fat (sirloin) to more (ribeye).
We pre-salted each batch of steaks and let them rest for several minutes before grilling. We also sprinkled lightly with pepper. “If it’s good beef, it just needs a little salt and pepper,” DuVall said.
We aimed for medium rare. The first cut — Wagyu sirloin — came out closer to rare, but we got dialed in after that. The Weber was hot, 450-degrees plus when the meat went on. I closed the lid for some of the cook time to control flaring and temperature.
When each batch came off, we let the steaks rest a while, then cut them into thin slices so people could sample in the kitchen. After the ribeyes finished, we moved to the dining room and had a sit-down meal. Sherry made potato salad and a tomato salad to go with the beef.
Even with eight adults and two grandkids eating, we had plenty of leftovers. We cooked about 8.5 pounds of steak and probably could have fed the group fully with half that amount.
This is good stuff.
Addendum: We planned to test Angus and Wagyu hamburger, too. But it proved to be a bridge too far.
“Testing burgers after you’ve had the Wagyu steak is a fool’s errand,” Jonathan Wilkins warned us at the beginning of the cook. He was right. We were stuffed.
So, the next night, Sherry and I had grilled Wagyu burgers for two.
“DuVall called these steak burgers and I think I have to agree with that,” I told Sherry after taking a couple bites. Lots of flavor.
“It’s delicious, really,” Sherry said. “What’s nice is it’s not dripping and it didn’t disappear on the bun.” She referred to how the 8-ounce patties held their shape and didn’t shrink much.
We will eat these Texas Beefhouse burgers again.