Back in 2010, Lady Gaga put on an entire dress made of meat for the MTV Video Music Awards. She had her own reasons for it (and it actually wasn’t to put down animal agriculture) but little did she know; she wasn’t the first person to wear a meat dress! The first meat dress appearance happened here, in Arizona, at the Arizona National Livestock Show, an annual event featuring youth from around the country and their livestock. The first Arizona National Livestock Show occurred in 1948 and happens each year, right after Christmas.
The first meat dress was worn by Rhonda Lawrence and Marian Callas, home economists from the Arizona Public Service. The Arizona Beef Council sponsored a series of beef cooking classes at the 1970 Arizona National Livestock Show and these “meat” dresses helped show off the beef primals (a piece of meat initially separated from the carcass of an animal during butchering, such as the chuck, round, and loin) and how cuts from each area had different characteristics and qualities. Much like Lady Gaga’s meat dress, these also made a splash and were even featured on the cover of the January 1971 edition of the Arizona Cattlelog.
But why would people wear these dresses in the first place? We’ve listed out the important reasons. I promise if you give this a read, your next grilling event (4th of July, anyone) will be a huge success.
- Not all cuts of beef are created equally
While all the different cuts of beef contain the same nutrients (think zinc, iron, protein, and seven others), they do not have the same texture, muscle direction and length, or marbling. For example, cuts from the chuck tend to be full of flavor but lack tenderness. When you think about where the chuck is located on the animal (shoulder) and think about how much work that area of the animal does during its lifetime, it starts to make more sense why these muscles are a little on the “not as tender as a tenderloin” side. (Insert caveat: there are many great cuts from the chuck which are extremely tender, like the flat iron.) But guess what! They are still easily enjoyed with the right preparation and cooking methods. Here is more info on the other primals and what they have to offer: Beef Heaven.
- Know your cut of beef and follow the right cooking method
You thought I was going to leave you high and dry on that last one? Ye of little faith.
This one is probably the most important point. If you know your cut of beef, prepare, and cook it the right way, you are on your way to sweet steak success. There are so many resources out there about cooking your beef the right way, but the Interactive Butcher Counter is my favorite. It’s simple, easy to use, and includes all the info you need, plus recipes! You have many options when using this tool. You can ask it to guide you to the right cut for your needs (ex: I want to have a BBQ this week but I need something inexpensive) or you can simply type in the name of the cut you bought at the grocery store yesterday and it will lead you right to the info you need.
- Cooking beef is easy.
Yes, it is. Don’t argue. You just need to have the right tools.
Not for lack of trying from the various motherly figures in my life, I didn’t possess many cooking skills (#Iamatruemillenial). Take out food worked just fine for my husband and I. But once I realized how much money we were spending on take out and the many resources available to me to make even better tasting food at home, I started down the “I’m going to learn how to cook” road. But I wouldn’t have been brave enough without Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner, the Interactive Butcher Counter, and my husband and his taste bud’s support. Of course, things like Pinterest, help out as well. From one non-chef to another, try out something easy first, like burgers, and work your way up. It’s worth it. Your wallet and taste buds will thank you.