Friday, March 6, 2009

Cube Steak: The New Silk Purse

When beef prices starting soaring in the early 1970s, cube steak became a staple in my family's household. (With six kids, the better cuts would have taken a toll on our food budget.) I hated cube steak . . . absolutely hated it.

No matter how you cooked it, it just seemed like you were eating a piece of shoe leather. I have never eaten a cut of beef like that since, and one way I assess my success in life is that I no longer have to eat crap like that.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found this N.Y. Times article online. Kim Severson writes:

I am in love with the cube steak.

. . . The realization came to me not too long ago, when I found a package in the grass-fed beef bins where I buy my groceries. I took them home, patted them with some seasoned flour and slipped them into a hot skillet. Six minutes later I was right back at my childhood dinner table, when cube steaks on a Tuesday night meant life was safe, steady and predictable.

But my feelings for the cube steak are more than nostalgic. That I can get grass-fed cube steaks for about $8 a pound (half that if I go for conventionally raised beef) is a comfort to my budget, too.

Of course it's cheap -- lousy cuts of beef always are. I'm sure that the cube steaks my parents served us when I was a teen were not "grass-fed," but I refuse to even entertain the possibility that this alone would magically transform the gristle-like texture of a cube steak into something edible.

Severson seems to be looking for validation when she writes this:

The amount of cube steak sold during the last quarter of 2008 was up by almost 10 percent over the same period a year earlier. The overall amount of beef sold went up only 3 percent.

Nice try, Ms. Severson. Has she watched CNN or the other cable news channels recently? The economic meltdown and rising joblessness have made people desperate. Let me emphasize that word: desperate. Which proves, of course, that an atmosphere of desperation is what it takes to drum up interest in cube steak.

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