Stay on all fours. Now go on. Your arms, shoulders and neck will be the most strained limbs. A beef raised on pasture, as is the Brazilian tradition, therefore tends above all to stiffen the forehead.
Usually looked down upon for barbecuing, paired with inferior, cheaper, tougher meat, and restricted to lengthy cooking, such as in soups or stews, the Beef Foreman has never been more coveted in the country.
Genetic improvement and more modern and technological management, from birth to slaughter, results in smoother and more specific forehead cuts.
Because of this, they are also prepared on the grill, with virtues and values similar – and sometimes superior – to cuts historically voted as the best by the Brazilian, such as steak and filet mignon.
For these superior quality animals, professionals in the sector have coined the expression “first-class oxen” and are helping to deconstruct the popular habit of associating, respectively, doe meat and first-rate and second-front meat.
Supported by grilling and smoker preparations, recent American barbecue fashions here are awakening consumers to unprecedented cuts, strengthening the marketing associated with names in English, and serving as an additional driver of this movement.
The frontal region of the beef, which in Brazil was boned into three main pieces for the domestic market – above (with the neck), brisket and paddle (with muscle) – today offers possibilities such as the Denver steak, the short rib and the flat iron (see sidebar).
The latter was discovered by American scientists who immersed themselves in the study of the muscle structures of beef. In the process, they identified attributes of flavor and texture once hidden in some of the more popular cuts, elevating them to more noble uses. Thus, they added commercial value to the meat.
For butcher, grill and entrepreneur Domingos Neto, famous on social media like Netão, the flat iron, which matches the racquet (or paddle seven), without flaps, fibers, sinews and fat, is almost as soft as the filet -mignon, one of the most noble cuts recognized by the Brazilian, “with the advantage of having a more expressive flavor”.
At Bom Beef, his butcher’s shop in Santos, the price for this little piece of front, which lends itself very well to the grill, is even higher – about 40% more than the filet mignon.
Zootechnician Eduardo Pedroso, who has worked in the boning room for more than a decade, detailing the cuts, says the foreman follows a market rule. “The more you move, the more you waste, lose value.”
To extract the smallest, tenderest and tastiest parts of the frontal region of the bull, it is necessary to cut the carcass further, which implies an increase in the price. One way to balance the bill is to make specialty products with French fries, as is the case in the United States, where there is a consolidated and strong market for ground beef for burgers.
“We Brazilians use ground duck on a daily basis, a leaner meat,” explains Pedroso, also in front of Toro Negro, a Texan-inspired steakhouse in Bragança Paulista. “We need to find a more noble destination for French fries, like burgers and special sausages.”
In Brazil, the prices of traditionally less noble meats are also increased by the marketing of foreign names. “Beef brisket does not sell, brisket sells,” explains Mário Portella, meat specialist.
The English names are adopted to make the eater think that the cuts are more exquisite.
But the professionals of the sector offer some considerations, so that the consumer does not fall into inaccurate notions, which establish a superficial parallel between the Brazilian and American cuts.
Some foreign names are adopted because there are no exact correspondents here. Denver, for example, is taken from the flank, but it is not a rough piece but a geometric cut, well-adorned with a muscle of the plaice, the fat of which is discarded, in Netão’s words.
From the point of view of the zootechnician Eduardo Pedroso, the Brazilian speaks without detour, pallet, breast and is associated with hard meats. “But when you disassemble the animal in another way, you have surprising culinary results and you name the small parts with specific names.”
The forehead of a better quality beef is therefore not mortally linked to more contained values. Especially in this context, where the carcass had an inflated price due to an unprecedented combination, such as devaluation of the real, heated exports, growing domestic demand, supply of beef constricted by climatic factors and prices. raised animal feed.
According to Thiago Bernardino de Carvalho, researcher at Esalq, the bovine carcass reached the highest value in the historical series, with an increase of 35% from January to the present day. This is not talking to an ox to sleep.