Ruling the backyard barbecue requires two things: the right grill and the perfect steak. Admittedly, one is more important than the other. You could probably get away with a grate over a fire pit to cook your meat if you know what you’re doing. However, if you don’t get the right steak in the first place, it’s near impossible to impress anyone. So we’ve selected some of the country’s best butchers and meat purveyors source your beef from during the height of this year’s grilling season. So check out our recommendations, grab one of our favorite wines to pair with a backyard barbecue and indulge in some outstanding beef delivered right to your door.
Holy Grail Steak Upper Prime Angus
One of America’s premier Japanese A5 Wagyu purveyors is also an excellent place to buy Angus beef and American Wagyu too. Holy Grail’s Upper Prime program curates only the best of the best Prime beef—only around 1,000 head of cattle per year meet the criteria—offering steaks with the outstanding fat marbling that provides optimal flavor and tenderness. This steakhouse-quality beef comes in a variety of cuts, but for those who like both NY strips and filet mignons, they don’t have to choose: Get the porterhouse, a 24 oz. beast of a steak for two.
Meat N Bone Dry Aged Steaks
For the longest time, the hardest part of the steakhouse experience to replicate at home was to experience that deep, umami-packed, beefy flavor of dry-aged steak. An artisanal butcher in your city may have some selections, but they usually wouldn’t age for that long. And aging at home? That’s not so easy or safe without the right equipment. But online purveyors have filled the void with amazing selections. One of the best comes from the company Meat N’ Bone. Its thick cowboy ribeye is aged for more than 45 days, giving it an amazing depth of flavor like you’d get at your favorite steakhouse. And though the company takes pride in advertising the level of funk in this meat, it doesn’t suffer from having a muddled or off flavor like some aged beef has, showing they took some care in the aging process.
Most American-raised Wagyu beef is a cross-breed of Japanese cattle and Black Angus. At a farm in Vermont, Sheila Patinkin rears and raises fullblood Japanese not far from where she grew up. The difference between American and Japanese beef isn’t merely semantics. The Japanese cattle is genetically different from its Stateside counterpart because it creates fat on the inside of the muscle tissue, making the fan more evenly distributed through the meat and not just in a fat cap. Vermont is selling A5-levels of fattiness, but its steaks are still remarkably rich and tender nonetheless with subtle, buttery notes to the fat in the meat.
Flannery Dry Aged Beef
“An unsexy way to explain it is that dry-aging, in a nutshell, is a controlled decay process,” says Katie Flannery, butcher and COO at Flannery Beef. “You’re exposing the subprimals to oxygen, which allows natural enzymes within the meat work,” she says. “They’re aerobic bacteria, so they need oxygen to survive. They come alive and start breaking down the molecular bonds of meat.”
That really doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but it absolutely is. And if you’re looking for outstanding dry-aged beef to eat at home, go with the Northern California company supplying some of the state’s top restaurants, from Majordomo to Rustic Canyon. Flannery Beef has a wide array of cuts available, including a set of two 28-day-aged California reserve ribeyes.
When it comes to steak, we generally have a policy that Angie Mar is right. The chef behind New York’s Les Trois Chevaux and author of the book Butcher+Beast used Pat LaFrieda exclusively back when she had the Manhattan meat mecca that was The Beatrice Inn. Right now the beloved butcher is offering a pair featuring a 2-inch-thick, dry-aged USDA Prime black angus tomahawks that are perfect your grill. You don’t even really need tongs, just grab that bone when you want to flip it.
First Light Grass-Fed Wagyu
For Americans to get their hands on the outstanding beef from New Zealand’s First Light, they had to belong to the company’s exclusive steak club. Thankfully, the company has recently rolled out a retail operation, selling its grass-fed Wagyu in multiple states and online at Thrive Market. What makes First Light special is how the ranch has crossbred Japanese Wagyu to create the deep beefy flavor of grass-fed steak, with the beautiful marbling of grain-finished beef. Thrive sells three collections of First Light, with the most premium of the sets featuring filets, ribeyes, New York strips and top sirloin.
Snake River Farms Plate Short Rib
Ok, so this isn’t a steak, but it’s one glorious slab of beef. Snake River Farms’ plate short rib lets you make your own big old beef ribs you’ll see from some of your favorite pitmasters. But if you’re not in the mood to slow cook this unctuous hunk, Snake River Farms still has plenty of great cuts available of its beautifully marbled American Wagyu steaks.