In the prep area behind the Corti Bros. Market meat counter, meat department manager and master butcher Mike Carroll used a metal paddle to move around the trimmed briskets and other gorgeous cuts of beef soaking in his proprietary brine in stainless-steel barrels.
In preparation for St. Patrick's Day, the brine-injected cuts will soak for 21 days before they're displayed in cold cases and sold to home cooks planning to carve corned beef for their Irish-themed dinners.
Meanwhile, stacked in the display case out front is an item new to the store. The beef chuck shoulder tender filet - sold under the name "T major roast" - is "remarkable," Carroll said. It's $7.99 a pound, on sale for $6.99 from Wednesday through March 5.
"It comes off the top of the crossrib shoulder and weighs between three-quarters of a pound and a pound," Carroll said. "It just sits up there and doesn't do much (work). Like beef tenderloin, it's along for the ride. That's what makes it so tender. It's a very lean piece of meat that's been forgotten by most butchers. Traditionally, it's thrown into the trim bucket for hamburger."
We brought some home and cooked it two ways. The first steak was cut into medallions, rubbed with olive oil, coarse-ground black pepper and coarse Vignalta herbed salt from Italy, and pan-seared in olive oil to medium rare. The meat was shockingly full of flavor and more tender than many filet mignons we've had.
We seasoned the second steak the same way and put it under the oven broiler, turned it several times, removed it and let it rest, then cut it into slices (pictured). The rare beef was delicious, but the pan-fried version was better.
"You can put it on the grill for about 10 minutes," Carroll said. "It seems to do best when it's cooked rare, but you can take it up to medium. It's very versatile; you can make kebabs, roast it whole, pan-fry it, make steak sandwiches out of it, turn it into hash, add it to salads... It's an amazing piece of meat."
Corti Bros. Market is at 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 736-3800, www.cortibros.biz. Pre-order corned beef at (916) 736-3805.