So today’s blog is going to be about meat in Costa Rica. So if you are vegetarian or by the Gods a Vegan! Do no read this blog post. Really don’t read it. See now there you go reading this blog and I told you not to. Don’t yell at me, I did warn you!
When we came to Costa Rica in 2012 one of my major disappointments was the Steak here. It was tough, it was dry, and they refused to cook it medium raw. There is nothing like a nice juicy piece of medium raw (yes raw not rare) piece of steak. The taste of the flavor and the blood. Sometimes, but not always I just want you to cut the meat from the bone, show it to the grill and slap it on my plate! If it can still moo when I stab my knife into it than that is a good steak. :-) Steak Tartare is one of the best ways to eat steak! You don’t even have to show it to the grill in this case. :-) Rare steak meat and I really love it when they place a raw egg on top of it. Yummy!
So now you know how I like my steaks and lets go over my issue with the steaks here in Costa Rica. One of the major issues is that they do not age their beef. They cut it from the cow and slap it in the cooler and sell it. You have to age the meat in order for it to have that tender texture us hard core meat lovers want. A steak at minimum has to age for 14 days. Longer is better, but 24 days “wet aged” is the best, the juiciest and the most tender of meats!
Now you are saying what is “wet aged”? Wet aging is the process of placing the meat in a vacuum sealed bag so that it retains its moisture. The moisture accumulates and the amount depends on the length of aging, there seems to be little to no weight loss unlike dry aging which can have other issues like mold on the meat and more waste.
The next major issue is the butcher the meat. When I say butcher I am not talking about the art of cutting the meat from the carcass. They “BUTCHER” it. They just cut it any old way they happen to fell at the moment. When it is sitting in the display case it looks horrible. It is so thin. They really don’t have any thickness to it at all. Depending on what you are doing with the steak it need to have some depth to it. Not a lot. If you are going to grill or pan fry it then it needs to be a minimum of 1/2 inch thick. Now if you are going to sear it and finish it in the oven than you need min of 1 1/2 inches to have a nice steak.
How it is cut from the cow and the various parts are very important as each one has a different flavor and texture and needs to be treated differently. Now there are some parts of the cow I just won’t eat. Like the cheek, tongue and tail. I have tried it, and just don’t like it.
This brings us to our 3rd issue of how they cook it. They seem to think it must be cooked so that there isn’t a single drop of blood left in the meat or any juice for that matter. They cook it until it is black and chard. That is the best way to ruin a good piece of steak, but since most of them don’t use good pieces of steak, I guess it doesn’t matter.
So I of course at this point said to myself, “Well self I guess you won’t be eating red meat when you come to live in Costa Rica. On the bright side the chicken and fish here is amazing!”. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now that I live here I have found a number of restaurants that have good tender meat and will cook it the way you want it. You should never, ever, ever ask for a steak to be cooked more then medium and even that is pushing it. I have had a number of steaks here cooked the way I wanted it. Here are just a few examples:
Now with all that said it can be expensive to get this quality of steak eating out. A good steak meal as I have described and cost you from $15 to $100 a person depending on where you go. That is just for the entree. Than add to your bill drinks, and appetizers and doing this all the time or a couple times a week adds up in price. So how do you get good steak at home? I am so glad you asked me that question. :-)
I found a place called Uncle Earls fine meats! This was a god send! I don’t have to go out every time I want a really tender and juicy steak any more. Sure I can if I want to, but I can have them right in my freezer ready for me to pop one in the oven or slap it on the grill. I can get one at a reasonable price!!! That is the most important part.
So a little about Uncle Earl’s. They are located at the Centro Comercial Trejos Montealegre (across from Walmart), next to Scotiabank in Escazú, Costa Rica. I know to those of you who don’t live here in Costa Rica that means nothing and you will never find it on your own. Those that do live here will know right where it is.
All their products are offering high quality meats, all grass fed, hormone free, no blood or saltwater injections. The only preservative they use is Himalayan pink salt, one of the purest of salts. They also wet age their meat a minimum of 14 days!! In 2010 Uncle Earl had a place in Coco that was also a restaurant. He than decided to focus on the meats and moved to a spot in the Mulitplaza in 2012. He needed a bigger shop and that is how he made his way to where he is now.
Now also keep in mind they do more then just steaks. :-) They do pork, bacon, sausage, bratwurst and all manner of other pork items. They also have lamb, and sometimes turkey and corn beef. You name it and if they don’t have I can bet you he may be able to get it for you. You never know until you ask. :-) This is won of the better finds in Costa Rica! I love, love, love this place. You need to go if you want some really good meat and really good prices. You may never eat meat out again! :-)
So lets wrap this one up shall we. Costa Rica has some really bad meat and the way they handle meat, but you can find some places that will serve it the way you want and it is tender, but that is the exception to the rule. So for that I give Costa Rica 2 out of 5 and I only gave them 2 because the chicken and fish is so wonderful here, just about everywhere we have gone. You can never go wrong ordering those two items.
Now Uncle Earl’s I give 5 out of 5. They get this for their quality and price. I love that place! Check out their facebook page for more information. https://www.facebook.com/UncleEarlsFineMeatsAndSpecialtieProducts