New and Noteworthy

Farmer Russell's natural Piedmontese beef

New and Noteworthy

The Piedmontese cattle breed emerged from the Piedmont of Italy, a mountainous region lying in a secluded pocket of the Alps. Through centuries of natural selection, these alpine cattle developed unique attributes that have made Piedmontese beef the foremost Italian breed. USDA research has shown Piedmontese beef to be the most tender beef, as well as the leanest. (It generally has half the fat of other beef!) It is lower in saturated fats and higher in the "good" polyunsaturated fats. It is also unusually flavorful, to my taste hands-down more delicious than the priciest Kobe or Black Angus.

As Americans started to opt for leaner beef in the late 1980s, ranchers began importing Piedmontese cattle. Down south of New Braunfels, farmer Russell Alpenhof is running about 200 head of these prized animals, and he is selling the beef here in Austin.

All of farmer Russell's Piedmontese cattle are free-range, raised out in the open air and never subjected to feedlot conditions. Both grass-fed and grain-fed beef are available, and none of it contains preservatives. (Nearly all supermarket beef is sprayed with external preservatives to give it an unnaturally red, "fresh" color, even when it is old and stale). Prices range from $5 a pound for ground meat to $8 a pound for sirloin to $14 a pound for rib eye. Every cut of meat normally found in the grocery store is available, and you can also purchase a quarter-, half-, or whole steer for $5 a pound, if you have the freezer space!

More tender beef, with half the fat and twice the flavor: Make no mistake, Piedmontese beef is the wave of the future. To order in advance, call farmer Russell at 830/420-4475. He can be found at the Austin Farmers' Market at Fourth and Guadalupe, Saturdays, 9-1pm, and at Plaza Saltillo Farmers' Market at Fifth and Comal, Thursdays, 4-7pm. P&K Grocery, located at West Mary and South Fifth, always carries a small selection of cuts as well.

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Russell Alpenhof, Piedmontese beef

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