Is Aberdeen Angus Pure really that rare?
Sure, if you ask the kitchen to cook it that way…
Very good, but seriously
Well, according to Angus Steakhouse, most restaurants in the UK serve ‘certified Aberdeen Angus’. For steak to be classified as ‘certified’, only the sire needs to be registered as pedigree Aberdeen Angus, meaning the animal from which the beef is sourced is often a cross-breed. Angus Steakhouse’s managing director Alexa Reid adds that UK farmers with pure breeds can’t receive a premium for their cattle as there is no certification or grading process in the UK to allow them to be labelled as such. This means all Aberdeen Angus meat, whether pedigree or crossbred is classed as ‘certified’.
And how does ‘certified’ Angus meat differ from Aberdeen Angus Pure?
Angus Steakhouse is putting a lot of stock in the idea that the pure Aberdeen Angus it now serves is of a superior quality. To qualify as Aberdeen Angus Pure, both sire and dam must be registered pure-breed and have a traceable ancestry through DNA testing and individual cattle passports. Reid describes it as ‘an industry break-through’, saying her team “have experienced the entire farm-to-fork process thanks to the support from pedigree farmers and [Angus Steakhouse’s] incredible suppliers”.
This all sounds very worthy, but are you sure it isn’t just marketing spiel?
Well, that’s the thing. It’s impossible to confirm either way whether or not Angus Steakhouse is the first chain to supply Aberdeen Angus Pure, but it’s certainly not the first restaurant to serve it. A representative for wholesale meat supplier Aubrey Allen, for example, tells BigHospitality it has supplied pure-bred Aberdeen Angus to certain restaurants before. And it adds that just saying the meat is Aberdeen Angus Pure is not an intrinsic signifier of quality.
What do you mean?
The single biggest factor in sourcing top-quality meat is the environment and conditions in which the animal is raised. Aubrey Allen’s representative refers to the importance of the terroir, particularly the grass that the beasts feed on. Sourcing pure-bred Aberdeen Angus steak is all well and good, but husbandry arguably trumps breed: if the conditions in which the animal has been raised are not up to scratch, then the product won’t be either.
So where is Angus Steakhouse sourcing its meat?
We don’t know for sure. The website notes that the steak its restaurants serves are sourced primarily from Las Pampas in Argentina, although there’s no confirmation that Angus Steakhouse is sourcing its pure-bred meat from there.