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photography by Stacy Markow

The Localist: Steak 101 at Local Yocal

On Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Steak 101 class conducted by Local Yocal owner Matt Hamilton at his retail storefront in downtown McKinney.

Hamilton spent his early years on a farm in rural Oklahoma growing peanuts and cotton. Similar to most local food producers, he got his start selling grass fed and finished beef at McKinney’s downtown farmers market. However, he quickly learned that selling products to the public a mere four hours a week, six months a year in ideal weather was not a sustainable business model. When the opportunity to purchase a nearby storefront arose, he and his wife jumped at the opportunity. Beyond the beef selection, you can find Village Baking Company brioche buns, pasture raised chicken and eggs, locally made chocolate, and Texas olive oil.

Steak 101 is roughly a two-hour crash course covering all things concerning steak. We discussed what differentiating factors make up the USDA beef grades, the differences between cattle breeds, common marketing terms, cut identification, and ideal cooking methods.

Grilling the good stuff.
Grilling the good stuff.

After our first break, we visited the cutting room and I immediately smiled when I saw entire sides of beef hanging up to dry age. Hamilton breezily walked us through the many cuts you can find in his butcher case. Some were familiar, like the bone-on strip, porterhouse, and even the fajita famous skirt steak. I also encountered cuts damn near impossible to find, like hangar, his self-named McKinney, and my new favorite cut, the spinalis.

The final—but most important—thing he covered was cooking methods. Hamilton loves direct heat, good quality salt and pepper, and not much else. Gas grilling is an unequivocal no-no, and putting a lid on it is even worse. Uncovered, direct heat is best. We sampled our way through it all, compared the flavors of Black Angus and Wagyu, and even swooned over some house made sausages.

Top DFW chefs have taken notice, and you can find Matt’s beef on menus at some of the most notable restaurants around town. Regardless of your level of food knowledge, this course is an entertaining lesson that will leave you forever changed when it comes the protein on your plate.

To sign up for Steak 101, go here.