Last updated 12/13/2022 at Noon
Steak for Christmas? Mike Stewart at Sisters Cattle Co. hopes so. As does Riley Avery at Pole Creek Ranch and a number of other cattlemen in Sisters Country who took a back seat to poultry for Thanksgiving. But now it’s time for steak at a good number of upcoming holiday tables — either at home or that special dining-out experience.
The best cuts for Christmas dinner? “Prime rib, 100 percent,” Stewart says without a second’s hesitation. Tim and Kim Keeton in Cloverdale run about 150 head of mostly Black Angus on their OK Ranch. Tim, a beef lover through and through, surprised us a bit when asked what he’d serve for a festive Christmas dinner. “I’d do a lamb. A roast.”
With that said, the Keetons are able to put any number of steaks on your plate, all grass fed and grass finished. Finished is the key. Lots of Oregon beef is grass fed, but then the cow is fattened up with grain. The difference is noticeable experts say.
A grass-finished label specifically means that cow ate nothing but grass or forage for their entire life span.
“Grass-finished beef tends to have a beefier texture and flavor to it,” Keeton said.
Think of it as similar to wild game, raised on what is most natural to the animal.
Stewart and his partners have around 50 head of varying breeds, some Angus and a few belted Galloways, and are introducing African Mashona to the herd. The breed is more drought tolerant, a key factor in our arid climate.
Until this summer Sisters Cattle only dealt in quarter, half, and whole cows. Now that they’re a USDA- approved butcher, you can treat yourself to individual cuts from a cow born and raised in Sisters Country.
Pole Creek Ranch on historic Highway 242 has only a few remaining of their popular, typically nine-pound steak boxes, with a choice of tomahawk, porterhouse, sirloin and rib eye.
Keeton says there is no secret recipe to a good steak.
“Start with good beef, salt, pepper, and a little garlic and don’t overcook it. That’s all.”
Alternatively, both Keeton and Stewart suggest sirloin for special occasions.
Sirloin is called by various names — New York or Kansas City strip, or shell steak. Strip steak comes from the top part of the short loin behind the ribs – the longissimus muscle of the cow. This muscle is little worked, making the steak very tender. This cut tends to have fat on the edge of the steak and a little marbling throughout — not nearly as much marbling as the Ribeye.
Sirloin is not as fatty as rib eye, nor as lean as filet mignon. With this cut, expect them to be tender, but not as tender as tenderloin or rib eyes, but have a great, beefy flavor. Top chefs have to balance their fussy clients with those who prize tenderness and those who are in for the taste.
Rib roasts are at the top of the list for Christmas dinners according to a half dozen social media sites. Ray’s Food Place is taking orders for a prime rib meal for pickup after December 20, consisting of four pounds of prime rib roast and accompanied by scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie.
Is prime rib and rib eye the same thing, or which one is best — prime rib or rib eye?
Chicago Steak Company who run Steak University say that prime rib and ribeye are similar, but no, they aren’t the same, nor is one technically better than the other. Both rib eye and prime rib are excellent steak cut options for different purposes. They’re both incredibly flavorful, have fantastic marbling, and are both prime beef options with just the right amount of fat to improve taste and texture.
The prime rib is well-marbled throughout its meat, meaning that it has a decent amount of fat content that renders down as it cooks, to keep the beef tender. A popular way to cook the rib is with au jus, or in its own juices, to prevent it from getting dry during the cooking process as it reaches your desired temperature.
Filet mignon makes a good presentation, is remarkably tender, is served in the world’s best restaurants, and is a Christmas favorite. But for flavor, top honors go to the rib eye.
The rib eye steak comes from the rib portion of the cow. Typically, the cut comes from the best center portion or the “eye” of the entire rib steak. This cut tends to have a lot of marbling (fat in between the muscle fibers) and makes for a very juicy steak. The rib eye can be-served with the rib bone still attached (like the tomahawk steak) or without the bone.
Sisters Meat and Smokehouse finds a preference for ribeye and sirloin by its customers shopping for holiday dinners. Their ribeye shown here run at least 2.5 inches thick and do not require special order.
Keeton is well aware that inflation, especially for beef, with lean ground beef averaging $6.68 pound, will steer some folks away from steak for Christmas. Beef Magazine reports that prices for sirloin declined 11 percent last month, so just maybe there will be steak on some Christmas tables after all.