Potato Chip-Fed Beef is Taking Off in Philadelphia
Herr's is raising and supplying cattle to local restaurants.
Cows don't exactly eat well: they nosh for more than six hours a day on grains, corn silage, hay, and water. (You're starting to salivate at the thought, we know.) If they're lucky, they get some grass, too. But one herd of cattle in Pennsylvania is eating much better, comparatively at least, because they get to nibble on a "steer party mix" of potato peelings, over-baked pretzels, and insufficiently sized chips.
Who are these special cows, you ask? They're snack company Herr's cattle. And you can taste them—as steaks, burgers, and more—at a few restaurants in the Philadelphia area.
As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Herr has long had cattle on more than 1,000 acres of farmland near their eastern Pennsylvania headquarters. The cows graze on grass watered by the company's otherwise unusable gray-hued wash—turned that unpleasant color after scrubbing potatoes—and they're fed a diet made up of the company's unsellable snacks. Don't worry: nutritionists helped develop their odd diet, which even includes cheese curds.
But until last year, Herr's cows weren't directly sold to markets and restaurants. (Instead, the cows were sold as mass-market beef cattle or breeding animals.) When Philadelphia establishments caught wind of these cows, however, they had to have them. And according to the newspaper, chefs and their customers can't get enough of their meat's special flavor.
"It's something really special," Charles Parker, executive chef at Talula's Garden, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. He described the cow's meat as having a "pronounced beefy flavor that is stronger than typical beef, but milder than lamb," and added the cow's diet "lends the more subtle things. ... It has an unusual toasted cheddar note, and it's a little sweet."
So where can you taste it for yourself? Right now, the beef is on the menu at Philadelphia's Talula's Garden and Urban Farmer, and sold for home cooks at Cappuccio's Meats. However with a flavor profile as interesting as described above, we can't help but think it will be on more menus soon. Perhaps as a whole new way to order "chipped" beef.