Locally Sourced Meat Means Fresh Cuts for The Grill
Funny thing about Albertans, if they have a great steak resting on the counter, they will do what it takes to get it onto a BBQ no matter what the season. But of course, when the sun sizzles in the summer, so does the BBQ. Patios, tailgates, campfires, and balconies are grill central. A quick stop at The Italian Centre will have you set for supplies, recipes, and the best meat in the province. Let’s introduce you to Piedmontese – a low fat, high protein delicious beef offered exclusively at the Italian Centre Shop by Messinger Meats.
A few years ago, the Italian Centre shops introduced us all to Messinger Meats from Red Deer. Joe, Mercedes and their children supply all the Italian Centre Shops with a selection of locally raised pork, lamb wild meats and chicken but their speciality is the Piedmontese Beef.
Being married to a butcher means there is usually meat for the table each night but as Mercedes says, she never knows what Joe will bring home. When a roast from Peony Farms of Lacombe who specializes in Piedmontese beef came wrapped in the waxy brown butcher paper, Mercedes thought nothing of it until she cooked it. “I was so surprised by how it cooked and tasted. I just liked it so much, I had to research it. It was so different to me.”
What Mercedes learned made them change out what they were butchering to focus on selling only Piedmontese beef. “We have been selling this beef since 2003 and I’m still fired up about how wonderful it is!” says Mercedes.
The Piedmontese is a domestic breed of cattle originally from the Piedmont region of north-west Italy. While the predominantly white or grey bovine are raised for milk and meat in Italy, the animals introduced to Alberta in 1970 are predominantly raised for their meat. The breed carries a unique gene mutation that causes hypertrophic muscle growth, or double muscling making them look rather, um, “beefy”. This mutation causes the meat to have a higher lean-to-fat ratio. This creates a tender, tasty, high protein, low fat meat that cooks on average 30 per cent faster than what is found at the grocery chains.
The first time you cook any of the Piedmontese steaks on the BBQ you need to step away from old habits. Consider marinating the meat overnight in a blend of fresh herbs instead of salty powders. Let the meat come to room temperature for at least an hour before shocking it with a 450-500 F grill. When your blade slips through the steak, you’ll wonder why you bothered setting out knives. If you plan to grill a showstopper like the Tomahawk, take a look at our Grilled Tomahawk Steak recipe.
A lot of people are excited to set up the smoker and slowly cook the meat over indirect heat to make even the toughest cut delicious. So, the price for brisket has soared due to the sudden popularity and may not be readily available. Mercedes suggests checking the cooler for the tri-tip cut too. “The tri-tip is incredible on the smoker but is quicker to cook compared to brisket.”
Italian Centre Shop's General Manager, Gino Marghella suggests you talk to the meat counter for custom orders. “Messinger Meats are very accommodating, it’s like having our own butcher shop. If you need 3-inch-thick T-bone steaks for Bistecca Alla Fiorentina or even a dozen beef cheeks for that special ragu recipe you have, we can arrange it.”
The Italian Centre Shop also stocks other items provided by Messinger Meats. They also provide an array of lamb, pork, elk, and bison products from central Alberta farms. The thick cut pork chops are perfect on the BBQ. An easy recipe is the Grilled Pork Chop with Fennel and Grapefruit Salad featured on the recipe page.
Being an artisan butcher shop, the Messingers pride themselves on sourcing their products from local ranchers who use the best practices in herd management. No hormones, antibiotics or steroids are used by the ranchers, and they humanely butcher the animals at their facility. Processed meats like the sausage and hamburgers do not include fillers, water or gluten and only natural spices and sea salt are used for flavours. Almost daily, the delivery vans are on route to all the Italian Centre Shops.
"We pride ourselves on stocking the best quality ingredients from both locally and beyond and our meat coolers are no exception." says Italian Centre Shop's President, Teresa Spinelli. "Our friends at Messinger Meats enable our shops to provide customers with products I'm so proud to serve at home to my family and friends while honouring my heritage."