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#1 mtureck

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 09:38 AM

A little disturbing...I'd be surprised if this was really used in a lot of restaurants, but it would explain all the tasteless fillets I've had at big wedding venues.

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#2 mtureck

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 10:25 AM

I think that depends on how you define a lot.....


Really? I'd love to hear from some restaurant folks about this. My first thought on reading the article was that it was probably overblown, but if this really is a widespread thing I'd be interested in how high up the restaurant food chain this kind of thing goes. Is this prevalent in chain restaurants only, or would nicer places do it?

#3 DonRocks

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:35 AM

Really? I'd love to hear from some restaurant folks about this. My first thought on reading the article was that it was probably overblown, but if this really is a widespread thing I'd be interested in how high up the restaurant food chain this kind of thing goes. Is this prevalent in chain restaurants only, or would nicer places do it?


I had a meat glue steak at a very popular, critically acclaimed, non-chain restaurant within the past 48 hours. How prevalent is it? If you see "steak" on the menu of any restaurant using "modern techniques" (sous vide, etc.) without any further information, let's just say you may want to ask what cut of steak it is before you order it.

Funny, I haven't heard about this from any restaurant critics, and amazingly, haven't even seen it mentioned on Yelp.

But look, if you think about it, is it really all that different than a terrine of head cheese, or a sausage? Yes, it's an unsettling concept, but one you might want to get used to. I personally do not like food masquerading as other food; if you're going to paste together scraps, just call it "scrapple" or whatever it is you're making - I'll still order it, happily (but I'd prefer not to think I'm ordering a single cut of steak when doing so).

[Editor's note: I was alerted to this thread by Eric Ziebold, who mistakenly posted under Celia's account and asked me to remove the post (I did, and also changed the quoted text in mturek's post above)]

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#4 mtureck

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:39 AM

I had a meat glue steak at a restaurant this week.


How was it identifiable? Just by taste/texture, or are there visual elements too? Can you see the seams, or does it just look too perfect?

#5 DonRocks

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:07 PM

How was it identifiable? Just by taste/texture, or are there visual elements too? Can you see the seams, or does it just look too perfect?


The chef asked me if I could figure out the cut. I said, no, I couldn't (but I thought *sure* there was pork fat somewhere in it (nope, bone marrow)). He told me it was three pieces, bound together. "A Frankensteak!" he called it, jokingly. (This was really a very enjoyable meal, and because I got inside information, I'm obviously ethically bound not to name the restaurant.)

It is seamless, and I don't see how the average person could tell the difference. Rest assured, similar trickery is used at restaurants (plural) that have recently received four stars by our local critics, and I strongly suspect they do not have a clue. And, since Eric posted here and has received four stars, I can assure you they do not do this at CityZen.

I'm fairly certain McDonald's has been doing this with their Canadian Bacon in their Egg McMuffins for decades, btw (I realize that isn't seamless, but it isn't intended to be). There are countless other examples, and the concept is not new. That Italian Store sub you rave about using processed luncheon meats? Don't kid yourself. We've all been eating variations of this stuff since we were kids.

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#6 DC Deb

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:09 PM

I can tell you that it is not done at the Tabard. If you attend a special event, rest assured that the filet mignon was hand cut from a whole tenderloin by me or my assistant.

While we use sous vide in the kitchen, it is not for any "frankenmeats."

#7 deangold

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:08 AM

I had a seafood "chorizo" made with meat glue... ghastly! Lamb "bacon" made with it.... ghastly. I don't need more industrial chemicals in my diet.

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#8 weezy

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:14 AM

I had only heard of meat glue as a molecular gastronomy ingredient on Iron Chef until this point, and then yesterday evening I saw a bunch of ads for Wal-Mart's new line of steaks. That's a very disturbing coincidence to me. I don't shop at Wal-Mart anyway, but the convergence of those two facts makes it much less likely that I'll start.

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#9 Arcturus

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:49 AM

Transglutaminase is a naturally-occurring enzyme that works by bonding amino acids of the two cuts of meat, so after the enzymes have done their thing and the proteins on the surfaces of the "glued" meat are de (and then subsequently re-) natured, the only remaining trace of it is a small amount of a slightly differently structured protein. So, Dino, rest assured that there are no "industrial chemicals" in anyone's diet due to the use of TG.

It's safe to use and the end product (when prepared well) tastes good. I see no reason not to use/eat it.

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#10 mtureck

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:39 AM

Transglutaminase is a naturally-occurring enzyme that works by bonding amino acids of the two cuts of meat, so after the enzymes have done their thing and the proteins on the surfaces of the "glued" meat are de (and then subsequently re-) natured, the only remaining trace of it is a small amount of a slightly differently structured protein. So, Dino, rest assured that there are no "industrial chemicals" in anyone's diet due to the use of TG.

It's safe to use and the end product (when prepared well) tastes good. I see no reason not to use/eat it.


In what way would you use it?
I'm not as concerned for the chemical itself as I am for the possibility of inferior ingredients being hidden in plain site. In the video example at the top of the thread, for example, a chef takes cheap stew meat and makes it look like a filet.
I'm sure you wouldn't use it like that, but I'm just curious as to what the positive usages could be.

#11 Arcturus

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:43 AM

In what way would you use it?
I'm not as concerned for the chemical itself as I am for the possibility of inferior ingredients being hidden in plain site. In the video example at the top of the thread, for example, a chef takes cheap stew meat and makes it look like a filet.
I'm sure you wouldn't use it like that, but I'm just curious as to what the positive usages could be.


The cheap stew meat "filet" would be immediately apparent to anyone that bit into it, due to texture alone. It'd be tough as, well, undercooked stew meat.

But, say someone really likes flat iron steaks, but wants to present them differently, if they were to meat glue three of them on top of each other and vaccuum seal it, after cutting it into portions, you'd get a final cut steak that's thicker and quite possibly more flavorful than just one flat-iron alone.

Or, say, it can be used when making a roulade of something to make sure that it stays rolled. Or if you had two pieces of perfectly good fish that were too thin for a portion, you could glue 'em together to make one piece that wasn't. Or if you were making shrimp dumplings that weren't really holding together so well when you dropped 'em into water...

I feel like if something is cost-effective, safe to use, and can benefit the final dish, there's no real reason not to use it.

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#12 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 11:53 AM

To me, selling "frankensteak" is exactly like selling fake Gucci bags on the street. If you serve a "steak" created this way as a steak, you aren't selling the real thing. If that's obvious, as with my Gucci example, then there's no problem. If not, you need to disclose how the steak was made on the menu. Otherwise, you're selling counterfeit goods and deserve to be exposed as a sham. To use Adam's example, if you take three pieces of flatiron and make a thicker steak, it looks like something other than a flatiron -- it looks like a thick steak. Customers deserve to know, up front, that it is not. So, if you do not wish to disclose this practice on your menu, stop doing it. You may love the taste of flatiron and think it tastes even more delicious as a thick steak. But if you want to sell it to me, you should tell me up front so I can decide if I want to buy it and see for myself.

#13 Eric Ziebold

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:16 PM

The cheap stew meat "filet" would be immediately apparent to anyone that bit into it, due to texture alone. It'd be tough as, well, undercooked stew meat.

But, say someone really likes flat iron steaks, but wants to present them differently, if they were to meat glue three of them on top of each other and vaccuum seal it, after cutting it into portions, you'd get a final cut steak that's thicker and quite possibly more flavorful than just one flat-iron alone.

Or, say, it can be used when making a roulade of something to make sure that it stays rolled. Or if you had two pieces of perfectly good fish that were too thin for a portion, you could glue 'em together to make one piece that wasn't. Or if you were making shrimp dumplings that weren't really holding together so well when you dropped 'em into water...

I feel like if something is cost-effective, safe to use, and can benefit the final dish, there's no real reason not to use it.


Your point about the flat-iron is basically what the article was stating was NOT safe to use. Not because of the meat glue itself, but because of the bacteria. If you're vacuum sealing it after, and then cooking it sous vide (inevitably at a low temperature) thats basically the cause for alarm that the article was raising.
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#14 Eric Ziebold

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:23 PM

In the case of meat glue itself, I'm with Don in that we've probably already ingested much more of it than we'd really like in the form of deli meats etc....

To Rich's point I have to agree as well, if I'm ordering a steak I'd like to get the steak that I think I'm ordering. I know there was a restaurant that became famous with its playfullness and whimsy of how it wrote the menu descriptions, but I think they actually tried to make you aware of that by using quotes to tip you off that a "surprise" may be in store.
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#15 RWBooneJr.

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 04:38 PM

Ever noticed how interesting topics we discuss on DonRockwell.com often end up as the subject of stories in the local media? It wouldn't surprise me at all if this did as well, and I expect a number of local chefs will be getting a call soon. Personally, I wouldn't want my restaurant to be known as "the place that serves fake meat," regardless of whether that categorization is fair.

#16 Poivrot Farci

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:06 PM

Otherwise, you're selling counterfeit goods and deserve to be exposed as a sham... But if you want to sell it to me, you should tell me up front so I can decide if I want to buy it and see for myself.


Most of the portioned/processed beef purchased in supermarkets over the last decade has been sprayed with carbon-monoxide to keep it all nice and bright red and it will stay so after being in the trunk of your car for a fortnight. Without it, cut or ground beef turns brown after a couple days, particularly grain finished feedlot beef which has less anti-oxidants and consequently shorter shelf life than 100% grass-fed beef. The FDA does not require labeling of products sprayed with carbon-monoxide, probably because the general public is ignorant and will get into a paranoid frenzy over what is essentially a natural gas, no more harmful than the cyanide in apricot pits. The issue with TG is whether it is being used for clever novelty or intentionally misleading the consumer, the later being a concern in quality conscious countries, ours not being one of them.

This week I was unable to find any retail cucumber pickles (other than Maille, though with artificial flavors and sulfur dioxide) that did not include a yellow coloring agents #5 or #6. None. Most of the stuff in every aisle has a shelf-life that rivals the half-life of manganese, and we’re likely grateful for that. Except for the details.




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