What’s Your Beef? Know the grade.

What’s Your Beef? Know the grade.

All beef is inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and is graded for quality and consistency. There are eight USDA grades –  Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner.  The highest grades are Prime and Choice. Prime tops the list due to its marbling and taste. Less than 2% of all beef produced in the United States earns the Prime designation.

Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle and has abundant marbling. Marbling – the little white flecks in beef – is key to flavor. The higher the amount of marbling, the more flavorful, tender, and juicy and the beef and the higher the USDA grade.  Prime graded beef is generally sold in upscale restaurants and through high-end butchers. You will not often see Prime graded beef in the supermarket. Again, only 2% of all beef produced in the US, qualifies for the Prime distinction.

Choice beef is very high-quality beef that has slightly less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful.

Select beef is normally leaner than the higher grades. Since it has less marbling, it lacks some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades.

Standard and Commercial grades of beef are frequently sold as ungraded or as store brand meat. Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades of beef are seldom, if ever, sold at retail. They are used in processed products and dog food.

Warning: Do not confuse Prime beef with prime rib — the prime rib refers to the location from where the meat is cut, not the graded quality of the beef. The grades refer primarily to the amount of fat marbling.

Avon Prime Meats prides itself on offering our guests, the finest meats available, Prime and the top grades of Choice. We do not sell Select grade beef. Remember, it’s best to know the grade.

Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

An animal’s diet can have an enormous effect on the nutritional content of its meat.  Grass-fed beef is a healthy source of dietary protein providing over 21 grams of protein for a four-ounce serving. That’s 1.5 times more than grain-fed beef.

Black Angus cow grazing on new spring grass.

Grass-fed beef also boasts:

  • 1/3 less saturated fat
  • 2-6 times the cell-boosting Omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3-5 times as many Omega-7s which lower cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • 2-5 times as much heart-healthy and cancer-inhibiting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • More inflammation-fighting antioxidant vitamins, especially vitamin E, which protects red blood cell membranes.
  • Ability to stabilize blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity.
  • A rich source of iron, which helps guard against anemia which causes unusual fatigue and a compromised immune system.

Avon Prime Meats prides itself on offering only the highest quality grass-fed beef.  We source grass-fed beef from U.S. farms, many local, that pasture raise their cattle and avoid the use of antibiotics, hormones, and steroids. APM offers grass fed strip, ribeye, and filet mignon steaks as well as ground chuck. Start enjoying the flavor and benefits of grass-fed beef today.

Is Your Meat Fresh? Know the source, age and aging process.

The old adage “You get what you pay for” is very true when it comes to buying meat for your family. The next time you eat at a restaurant or shop for beef, be mindful and always ask questions.

Where does this beef come from?  Was this a well fed, properly processed steer?

Black Angus Steer

Or, is the meat coming from an older, retired dairy cow who was bred for milk and most likely consumed a genetically modified diet and regular antibiotic treatments?

Dairy Cows

Fortunately, most of the beef we eat comes from steers or cows that are raised for meat rather than milk production. Young beef tends to be more tender with better marbling (which brings great flavor). This beef is used almost exclusively for steaks. Since ground beef doesn’t need to be tender or marbled, often supermarket ground beef is made from older, retired dairy or breeding cows along with left over trimmings. While this meat may not be “bad for you” if you are looking for high quality meat, you may want to avoid this option. Most quality butcher shops will grind fresh cuts to provide you with fresh, high quality ground beef.

Know the age of your meat.

Dry-aged beef is beef that has been hung or placed on a rack in sterile refrigerators with very carefully controlled air flow, humidity and temperature for several weeks. During this process, a crust forms on the outside of the loin and the natural juices are absorbed into the meat. This layer is then trimmed away leaving you with steaks with superior flavor and tenderness. This process begins with well marbled, high quality meat. Dry-aged beef is seldom available outside high-end steak houses and upscale butcher shops due to the overall loss of weight and the expense of the process itself.

You may have seen “Aged or Wet Aged Beef” in certain stores. This is simply meat that has been packed in plastic to be shipped. The natural enzymes may help to tenderize the meat, yet it is still sitting in its own juices and simply aging.  Again, ask questions. Know how long your meat has been aging, meat that has been naturally or wet aging for over 75 days is not considered fresh.

How to check for freshness.

Red meat such as beef and lamb should be bright red. A tad bit purple is still okay, it just means that it has been exposed to some oxygen.

Press your finger into the meat. If it springs back up, it is fresh. If not, it’s older and losing firmness.

Always smell your meat. You should never smell anything foul or unusual like bleach or ammonia.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for high quality beef.

  • Look for naturally fed, humanly raised animals who are free from antibiotics and genetically modified feed.
  • The freshest meats are from local farms and have never been frozen.
  • Look for meats that have been vacuum sealed or cryo packed for freshness.
  • Look for marbling (white swirls throughout the beef).  Higher levels of marbling means superior flavor and juiciness and a high USDA rating.
  • Bright red color indicates freshness.  Be aware that some grocery stores may add red color to simulate freshness.
  • ‘Dry aged’ beef will be brown, tender and carry a distinct, intense flavor compared to ‘wet aged”.

Remember, there are many honest, high quality butchers who are dedicated to providing their customers with fresh, high quality product. They key is to be educated. Ask questions!

Entertaining is Easy with Avon Prime!

How to Effortlessly Plan a Great Holiday Party

Do you enjoy a full house of laughs and creating great memories with friends & family? We do too!

Sometimes, planning a party can be a bit overwhelming, but fear not, we are here to help! We’ll walk you through step by step on how to plan a menu that your guests will enjoy and how to make hosting as stressless as possible.

The first step to hosting a great party, is establishing a fun atmosphere. The tone of the party starts with the appetizers. Talk to our staff and they will guide you in choosing delicious cheeses & charcuterie like salami, and prosciutto, along with delectable crackers & jams.

Want to impress guests even more? Order from our Catering Menu. Items like the cheese platter, tuna wontons, and roasted zucchini cups, are sure crowd pleasers. These satisfying appetizers go a long way and require minimum prep, allowing you to enjoy the conversation with your company.

For cocktails, we have exclusive mixers from Ripe, Stonewall Kitchen and other remarkable brands. Pair them with our Luxardo Maraschino cherries for a perfect finish to a great drink.

And last, but not least comes the main course. We suggest ordering a roast (we’ll give you cooking instructions!) and some prepared sides from catering. Our staples are: Creamed Spinach, Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower & Artichoke Mash, Risotto and more. All you need to do is reheat these sides while your roast is in the oven. We recommend Borsari seasoning for your roasts. You can also ask our butchers to stuff it with your favorite ingredients.

Rare prime rib beef on a plate with mushrooms, gravy, asparagus, potatoes and rosemary

We have exquisite salad dressings and organic greens, as well as a variety of vegetables to make a fresh salad to complement your meal. Don’t forget the bread! We carry freshly baked bread from Hartford Baking Company.

For dessert, try our delicious  ready-to-bake cookies from local Cardia Cookie Co , with local Tulmeadow ice cream or get LuAnn cakes or pies, made in Ellington, CT. These will be your “cherry on top” for a great gathering. Once you are ready to serve your meal, you will look back and realize it wasn’t that hard after all! Our mission is to make things easy for you, so you can not only entertain, but enjoy and relax during your party as well.

Get everything you need for the holidays in one stop, your favorite shop: Avon Prime Meats!

Why local farms & vendors matter so much!

Every time you shop at Avon Prime Meats, you become part of a family’s story: we are a family business that likes to support other local families in their quest to thrive in today’s economy. These are husbands, mothers, sisters, kids that have a dream and work hard to accomplish it. Small farms and local businesses are true to their values.

Local farmers and vendors sell the products their families LOVE and grow with them, therefore, we know their heart is in it!

Local food is fresher and provides more nutrients than food that has traveled for miles without the chance of a natural ripening process. Science shows that nutrients begin to degrade the moment produce is harvested, so the sooner you can purchase and eat it, the more nutritious it is.

Local produce from Greszcyk Farm & pickles from Hillhome in Norfolk, CT

The farms we support grow their livestock humanely in a small farm setting, where they are relaxed and healthier, thus giving you better nutrition!

Is local always organic? Not necessarily: the organic certification is a very stringent and expensive process that not all small businesses can afford.  Most practice sustainable agriculture, which is often the same or even a higher standard than organic, just not certified.  Better for them as farmers, better for the earth, and better for you.

Are local animals grass fed? In the Northeast, it is almost impossible to grass feed all year long. These animals are grass fed for as long as the weather permits, then switch to grain feed through the winter. However, their feed is as natural as possible. No hormones, antibiotics, fillers or pesticides.

Milk from Smyth Trinity Farm in Enfield CT

Buying local keeps your hard-earned dollars in the local community.  To see all our local vendors, just take a peek at our back wall behind the meat counter, it has a beautiful display of all of them. We carry many local CT products, as well as regional (MA, NY, RI).

Back board behind our meat counter showcasing all the CT businesses we support

We invite you to be part of our story and help other local businesses thrive as they contribute to our community’s growth. Stop by today and shop local! We’ll be glad to give you a tour of CT within our store!

All you always wanted to know about Catering with Avon Prime Meats

Whether you’re planning a celebration, office luncheon meeting, or large corporate event, Avon Prime Meats can help you plan the perfect event. We can assist with everything from a casual corporate lunch meeting to large BBQ party!  Our catering menu offers an extensive variety of appetizers and platters to choose from, including casual Steak & Cheese Spring Rolls and an elegant Chilled Garlic & Herb Tenderloin platter.  Our locally sourced ingredients are reflected in the England Artisanal Cheese platter.  We also provide a variety of vegetarian options such as Spinach & Artichoke stuffed Mushrooms (a sure pleaser!) or Sweet Potato Pancakes – a fun twist on a classic holiday favorite.

Customizing your menu is easy and fun with our expert staff, who will help you come up with the perfect fit for your event, as well as ensuring you order the perfect amount of food.  Slider bar menus are fun for young people, and buffet style dinner plans provide a hearty meal for a large number of guests.

Office meetings are truly simple with our turn key selection of wrap platters and salads, with tried and true favorites to provide everyone a quick, refreshing lunch. We also can plan custom menus for your office, with warm meals & sides. Our entrée trays are perfect for creating your own buffet.

Don’t forget your custom dessert platter!

This is what some of our guests have said regarding our catering services:

“It was fabulous! WOW – The food was delicious, the set-up perfect and the staff beyond kind and easy to work with! I am very impressed! Your advice on ordering was so helpful. We had tons of leftovers, so I appreciate that you recommended not to order more appetizers, you were right on! Thanks again, Avon Prime Meats is the best!”

Melissa W.

“Thank you guys so much for catering our wedding. Just about everyone raved about the food. You guys did an amazing job and we couldn’t be happier. I took your advice and wore my shoes pretty much all last week and the week prior and I am so glad I did! Your staff was so nice to work with, everyone was great!”

Chantel R.

Frequently asked questions:

What are my options regarding delivery?

You can pick up in the store, or chose delivery. We deliver hot or cold (up to you!) and we give you reheating instructions.

Can you cook at my house? Yes, for on site events we require a minimum of 50 people.

When is the absolute latest I can place my order? We recommend booking as far in advance as possible. A week’s notice is the average but we always work with you to accommodate your party. If you call with a last-minute request we might give you different options that work both for our kitchen and for you.

Do you do pig roasts? Yes, those are market priced. There is a cooking fee involved and pig roasts take multiple hours to complete. Hogs come from local farms.

Do I need to pay a deposit? Depending on the size of the order, we may require a deposit.  Weddings and large events typically require one.  All other events are held on a credit card and charged the morning of the event.

I have a tight budget, can I still get my event catered?

Yes! We have a great Menu with a variety of items to work with your budget. We will suggest items that go a long way to feed a crowd while not breaking the bank.

How about cancellations? We kindly ask for a week notice for all changes and cancellations.

I have allergies / dietary restrictions. Can you make an entrée specific to my needs? Yes, our chefs are always willing to go the extra mile for you. We just kindly ask that you make your request with at least a week in advance. In the past, we have substituted, omitted, or swapped ingredients to accommodate our guests needs!