Wal-Mart recently introduced a new line of beef steaks, sold under the Genuine Steakhouse™ brand. The steaks are sold in the fresh meat case. The question quickly springs to mind: can a discount superstore really offer genuine steakhouse-quality steaks? The Food Channel taste panel set out to find out.
Steak is one of those highly indulgent products you might not think about buying at Wal-Mart. Maybe you go to a butcher shop where they cut the steaks just how you like them. Or maybe you wait for your favorite grocery store to put your favorite cut of steaks on sale.
But Wal-Mart is recognized as the low price leader, so if you’ve got a taste for steak, why not pick some up next time you’re there to buy fishing lures or the latest DVD movie release? One-stop shopping has a strong convenience pull for those of us who never seem to have enough hours in the day.
We visited a few Wal-Mart stores and were surprised by the quantity and variety of cuts available among the Genuine Steakhouse™ steaks on display. We chose four different cuts: T-Bone, Ribeye, New York Strip, and Top Sirloin steak for our taste test.
All the steaks were graded USDA Choice with the exception of the Top Sirloin, which was labeled USDA Select. Beef grades are determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
We prepared all steaks to a Medium Rare doneness.
We started with the T-Bone steak, a classic bone-in cut that’s a favorite of many a steak lover. It tasted like a good T-Bone should. It was nice and tender—after slicing the meat into strips, we could cut it with a fork. It was juicy and delivered a true steakhouse flavor.
Next on our menu was the Ribeye, considered by many to be the most juicy and flavorful of all steaks. It was labeled as Ribeye/Delmonico—names used interchangeably in the culinary world. This ribeye was not as marbled as you usually find with a ribeye steak. It was surprisingly lean. But it had a superb, indulgent flavor and succulence. This was a restaurant-quality steak.
Then we moved on to the New York Strip, which is basically the “strip side” of a T-Bone. While not quite as tender as the Ribeye, the NY Strip was full of rich, beef flavor. Again, we found this strip to be worthy of the steakhouse name.
We finished with the Top Sirloin. It’s clearly marked USDA Select, meaning it’s a generally leaner cut, but consequently less tender and juicy than a Choice (or Prime) steak. To beef up the level of juiciness and tenderness, this steak comes pre-marinated. This is noted on the label as ‘Tenderness and Moistness Enhanced with up to an 8% solution.’ This process is commonly used today by purveyors of leaner cuts of chicken, pork, and beef. Steak purists will probably shy away from a product with this type of added processing, but for those looking for a leaner (and less expensive) steak, this one might be worth a try.
We found the Top Sirloin to be quite tender, juicy and flavorful. We sliced it against the grain, which yielded succulent strips of beef that had a satisfying steak flavor, if a little on the salty side.
I’d have to say we’d recommend the USDA Choice steaks over the USDA Select Top Sirloin we tasted. At The Food Channel test kitchens we prefer our steaks to be virtually unadulterated. Add maybe a little coarse ground salt and pepper to taste, and that’s about it. But the fact is, you have a choice at Wal-Mart. If you want a leaner steak at a lower price you can go with their Select Top Sirloin.
The Final Verdict
To answer the question we posed at the top of this review, Wal-Mart’s Genuine Steakhouse™ steaks do indeed pass the taste test. Each steak delivered on flavor, tenderness, and juiciness—comparable to any steak you’d buy at your neighborhood supermarket, or yes, even a quality steakhouse.
So, as you plan your next summertime cook-out or special occasion, think steak. Then head to Wal-Mart’s fresh meat aisle and pick up your choice of the Genuine Steakhouse™ steaks. We suspect you and your guests will be pleased.