While those people residing in the Sun Belt may not see what the fuss is about, having had the ability to use their outdoor grills all winter, we who suffered through months of snow and frigid temperatures have just thawed out and returned to our backyard barbeques to start charring meat again. For everyday meals, a supermarket's prepackaged meats may suffice, but for special occasions or just to treat oneself royally, there are companies that deliver prime cuts right to the door via overnight express service.
Stock Yards, Chicago, Ill., which supplies much of the beef to many of the finest steakhouses across the country, can put the same choice cuts on your grill and, ultimately, dining room table. Each page of its catalogue seems more succulent than the one that came before it, so the best way to sample everything and thus find your personal favorite is with one of its classic collections. Typical is The Premier ($134.95), which provides 16 servings--two each of 16-ounce porterhouses, 10-ounce New York strips, six-ounce filets mignon, and eight-ounce ribeyes plus eight 5 1/3-ounce steakhouse burgers--with a shaker of Epicure Seasoning thrown in. For titanic appetites, there are 16-18-ounce bone-in ribeyes (four for $75). Those who want to take an occasional break from such marvelous steaks can sample four pounds of precooked barbeque beef short ribs--roughly eight generous, almost fat-free pieces in a vacuum-sealed heat-and-serve bag for $62.95--that make a delightful treat. These assortments can be ordered online at www.stockyards.com, or you can send for a catalogue by calling 1-877-785-9273.
Kansas City Steak Company, Kansas City, Kan., puts together a Steak Lovers' Sampler with 18 chunks of beef to thrill your palate--a half-dozen each of six-ounce triple-trimmed filets mignon, 10-ounce ribeyes, and 10-ounce Kansas City strips--for $144. For a novel twist on a good-old American staple, try the Kansas City steakburgers (24 four-ounce patties for $39) that come with Vidalia onions blended in, creating a mouth-watering combination of hearty beef and sweet onion flavorings. Order online at www.kcsteak.com or call 1-800-524-1844 for a catalogue.
Carnivores in many of America's best restaurant cities--New York, New Orleans, Miami Beach, Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.--swear by Smith & Wollensky when it comes to great steakhouses. Now, you can order the same steaks served in those restaurants and eat almost as well --the qualifying difference is that you miss out on all the classic side dishes. Still, the beef is what commands the attention, whether it's the eight-ounce filet mignon (four for $62), 14-ounce sirloin strip (four for $100), or 22-ounce bone-in ribsteak (four for $132). Obviously, with portions like this, these are for serious beef-lovers. To cope with them, you might want to add a quartet of trencherman-sized steak knives ($40), though that might be overkill with such ultratender cuts. Shop online at www.smithandwollensky.com or call 1-877-783-2555 for a catalogue.
Angus beef has always been a great favorite among Americans, but it's not always easy to be sure that's what you're really getting, despite the labeling in some meat cases. A trade association that can eliminate these doubts is Certified Angus Beef LLC, Wooster, Ohio, which has provided an umbrella over those companies that purvey the real thing, certifying the authenticity of their products. The following are but a few of those who qualify to boast of this much-desired brand:
Cusack Meats, Oklahoma City, Okla. (www.cusackmeats.com, 1-800-241-MEAT), offers the usual assortment of steaks and an amazing hickory-smoked brisket, but its ready-to-cook prime rib is what will knock your socks off. Comparable in taste and quality to the finest steakhouses, it can be ordered boneless (11-13 pounds, $125) or bone-in (15 pounds average, $135), either one guaranteed to earn you accolades as the host or hostess with the most at your next dinner party. …