Food Snob Chronicles – Can one really make a silk purse from an Angus ear?

The folks at Wendy’s first asked us a question. Then came the California Milk Processor Board with an even bigger question. Nowadays, beef producers are shouting to the world about the next huge thing.

Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the past 10 years, you’ve heard of Angus. It’s long been the most widely-bred beef cow in the U.S. But just in the past decade or so, marketing firms have managed to convince many Americans that there is no other breed worthy of being braised, grilled or broiled.

Yes, the Angus campaigns — albeit quietly — have topped Wendy’s short-lived (but widely popular) Where’s the beef? ads. At this rate, the Angus marketers will soon share a wall with the Got Milk? geniuses in the peddler’s hall of fame.

Milk is what it is. There’s nothing to compare it with. Angus beef though is a different story. Is it really that much better than the beef from Herefords, Brahman or Limousins?

Next time you insist on Angus, consider this:

  • It takes about two years to ready Angus cattle for market, which is less time than other common bovine reeds.
  • The Certified Angus Beef program is a brand. To be labeled as such, the animal must have more than 50 percent black face, among other requirements.
  • To be labeled just as Angus, a beef cow typically has to have (varying degrees of) black fur, which indicates some lineage. This process is done visually — not genetically.
  • Most beef purchased in the U.S. is Angus, whether or not it is labeled as such.
  • Of almost 90 USDA-recognized certified brands, more than 60 include the word ‘Angus.’
  • Angus cattle are graded like any other breed. In other words, a USDA Select cut of Angus has the equivalent marbling of any other breed.
  • Considering a hot dog or hamburger made with Angus? Just know that the mass-produced versions were likely made with ‘no roll’ (ungraded) meat. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing. It just means the meat wasn’t of high enough quality to be labeled as USDA Choice or Select.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+.

I divulged in 2011 that I’m somewhat of a pizza snob. I don’t think I mentioned, though, that I’m not totally turned off by the pizza chains. In fact, I’m quite partial to an old Pizza Hut standby — from the sandwich menu.

It was originally known as the Pizza Hut  Supreme and, according to my research, eventually came to be named the Supremo. By any name, the now-extinct menu item was simple and delicious.

Supremo Panino (Supreme Sandwich)

Supremo Panino — A simple and delicious standby from Pizza Hut's now-extinct sandwich menu

Supremo Panino — A simple and delicious standby from Pizza Hut’s extinct sandwich menu

For each sandwich:

1 – Hoagie roll -or- 2 – slices Italian bread
2 – Provolone slices
3-4 thin slices – Black Forest Ham
2 thin slices – Hard Salami
2 thin slices – Sandwich Pepperoni

Romaine Lettuce
Tomato slices
Creamy Italian dressing

Olive Oil, for toasting

On a roll/slice, place cheese, ham, salami and pepperoni. Spray or brush bread with olive oil. Grill over medium-high heat (as you would a grilled cheese) until golden on both sides. Add lettuce, tomato and creamy Italian dressing.


  1. Taking On Magazines says:

    I just buy beef. Until the day that I can afford Kobi, beef is beef. That sandwich’s ingredients look an awful lot like the Italian BMT from Subway. it has Genoa salami, spicy pepperoni, and Black Forest ham in it. I always get provolone as my cheese, so it’s pretty similar. That being said, it never even crossed my mind to just make it at home. It looks delicious and I’m a dork.

    • Just so you know, Kobe beef is just Wagyu. Outstanding marbling. As for the sandwich, Pizza Hut was toasting these bad boys long before Subway came along with their Quizno’s knockoff toasters. And please do make it yourself. The quality of Subway cold cuts is very low. You aren’t a dork, by the way. 😉

  2. I ate many a sammich while working at Pizza Hutt back in my college days, but can’t for the life of me remember what went on each one. I just put whatever I wanted on my own. I could go for one of your sammiches right about now.

    Read this article about Kobe beef (and the update) and what a scam it was.Interesting stuff.

    • Thanks for the link. Wagyu beef — Japanese breeds raised here — definitely has a distinct marbling. (And it seems not any different than the Kobe version.) As a wordsmith, I agree with the writer that any beef raised here in the U.S. should be called Kobe-style or Wagyu-style. Just like reputable cheese dealers call the domestic version Parmesan-style.

  3. Ah good old marketing. I just buy local beef. If it looks good I buy it.

  4. Wait a minute….back up the bus Adam. So what you’re saying is that Angus beef is based on the color of its hide basically? Since I don’t’ usually eat cow hide I guess I can just buy any old beef at the market. I like this information & can’t wait to drop it in a conversation somewhere along the line.
    That is a supreme sandwich but are you allowed to have hoagie rolls in Texas? I thought hoagie’s had to stay within the NJ state lines.

    • Yes and no. Angus is an actual breed that is black in color. I’m telling you that at the processing facilities, a cow that shows some black fur is generally stamped as Angus. That information, by the way, came from much research on my part — including interviews with several people who have been on the lot(s) and saw it happening. — I only think it’s a big deal if you are shelling out extra money because the label says ‘Angus.’ I really don’t care what breed I’m eating, so long as the marbling looks good. (But I sure as hell won’t pay extra for a hunk of beef because it is branded!)

  5. Personally, I think Kobe beef is highly overrated. It’s usually so marbled that there’s more fat than meat. Why not just gnaw on a lump of lard?

    The US beef we get here just says “America” on it. Dunno about the lineage. And it’s never aged. I miss Iowa corn fed beef. Best I ever had.

  6. I either live in a cave or haven’t paid much attention to all this fuss about Angus. And growing up on a farm, with cattle, I’m ashamed that I don’t really know what type of cows were on our property. I need to get informed. Next time I’m picking out that steak at my local butcher, I’ll most certainly learn what I buy. This sandwich looks really good Adam.

  7. Celeste66 says:

    What is Nolan Ryan beef considered? (grade)

    • adamjholland says:

      Probably choice or select (it should say on the package). The big deal about Nolan Ryan beef, other than his name on the product, is that they supposedly age it for a couple of weeks before shipping out.


  1. […] years before finally making a copycat worthy of sharing with my 19 loyal readers. Same thing with Pizza Hut’s Supreme Sandwich. I grew up on it and thought my peeps might also like to try this now extinct menu […]

  2. […] just know that any beef in the U.S. labeled as Angus, must come from a predominately black cow. Read more about that here.) Serrano hams are also dry-cured for 14-16 months — or longer. There are other rules, but the […]

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