Home on the Steppe

By Noah Graff

Those Russian thieves! First they steal back Crimea, then they steal our election (maybe?), and now they are poaching our talented labor force. They are bribing our good ol’ American cowboys to help them build their latest empire—Beef!

In 2010 Russia passed the Food Security Doctrine, which set a goal for the country to become self-sufficient in its food production. The country has never had a domestic beef industry, with most of its beef having to be imported. Rich Russians want easier access to a great ribeye and there is a huge opportunity to export beef to China and the Gulf States. The new industry also provides jobs. Russia is in the midst of a Beef Rush.

In the last six years, Miratorg, Russia’s biggest beef-producing company, acquired vast fields abandoned after the fall of the Soviet Union. It ripped up weeds and forests and planted imported grass seed. It imported tractors, horses, and cattle, predominantly from the U.S. and Australia, and in just a few years produced a herd of around 400,000 cows. Miratorg says it wants to have a herd of 1 million cows by the end of the decade. The U.S. cattle industry took centuries to develop its infrastructure and breed cattle optimized for beef, but with the aid of high-tech genetics and a vertically integrated business model Miratorg, in a span of five years, created the largest herd in the world. In the U.S. we have several steps in the steak industry. A calf spends about a year in pasture, then goes on to a feedlot, then a processing facility and finally to a restaurant. At Miratorg every stage is under one roof. It even has cooking demos for preparing steak.

Sergei Shilin, Russian Cowboy at Miratorg. Courtesy of www.Newsworks.org.

But like almost all businesses, the beef business cannot succeed without skilled workers. So in addition to importing grass and cattle Miratorg has brought over some American cowboys to train the Russian workers who knew nothing about cattle ranching. Today the United States has fewer cattle than it has had at any time since the 1950s, so the job market for cowboys in the United States has thinned significantly. Miratorg has lured American cowboys to come to Russia by offering to double their pay in the United States.

To teach cowboy skills and create a passion for the cowboy way of life Miratorg created its own version of a rodeo. The Russian rodeos are similar to those in the United States. They have events like barrel racing, roping and trailer loading. DJs play patriotic songs that talk about the greatness of Russia. One rodeo song talks about Russia taking Alaska back from the United States. Another proclaims “Give me a horse and a Sword!” Parachutists known as “Aerial Cowboys” float down into the arena. Russian cowboys wear kerchiefs with traditional Russian patterns rather than the classic bandanas worn by American cowboys.

Russian Cowboys. Courtesy of www.Newsworks.org.

According to the sources for this blog, the Russian cowboys, which the Russians call “operators,” have been thriving since the American cowboys were brought in, embracing the cowboy work ethic and becoming experts in skills of the trade such as riding, lassoing and doctoring calves. Sadly, very few of the 1000 or so Russian cowboys have gotten to eat an actual steak. A quality steak costs more than a day’s salary for a Russian cowboy.

Question: What’s your favorite cut of meat? How do you like it prepared?

Sources for blog: newsworks.org and NPR.org.

Listen to the NPR story: 

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17 thoughts on “Home on the Steppe

  1. AvatarGordy

    Bone in Ribeye has to be the favorite
    Heat grill to 700, 3-5 minutes per side on a 1-1/2 cut
    Dead cold raw in the center, quite well on surfaces with a nice char mark
    Follow with a nice red and blanched beans
    You are GOOD TO GO!

    Interesting story too. I wonder how they will package this beef

    1. AvatarTerry

      Gordy, I like it that way till I tried a hardwood fire toss the steak right on the coals same amount of time, wonderful flavor .

  2. AvatarNoah Graff


    No really… I like a nice marinated skirt steak, bbq or mexican style in tacos. I also like an Italian steak called Tagliata, which is a sliced sirloin, with rosemary and arugula. Should be rare, maybe slightly more done than Rare but rarish.

    I also dig the Brazilian steak houses and all the meet on the skewers. So good!

  3. AvatarDoug S

    Filet mignon, butterflied, RARE. Charred both sides at 800 degrees. And don’t even think about wrapping it with bacon!

  4. Avatarallen

    Teres Filets or Teres Major. I think it goes by a couple of other names as well. Not all that easy to find but worth it.

    It’s got a bunch of names but it’s very tender and flavorful. Works very well in a stir fry or grilled. Either on the grill or under the broiler. Cheaper than tenderloin but tastier. No gristle or silverskin.

    About three and a half minutes per side on the grill or broiler if it starts out at room temperature. A bit overdone at the ends but nicely browned everywhere else. A little horseradish or steak sauce or just salt and pepper.

    I’ve got about five pounds of vacuum-packed in the freezer right now. Used to be almost ten pounds.

  5. AvatarMisterchipster

    Nothing like a bone in “prime +” filet. 600-700F grill, stop when center hits 115-116F, rest on plate for 10 minutes and enjoy that melt in your mouth meal! You won’t do that well in even the best of the downtown Chicago steakhouses, promise! The absolute top of the supply chain is Meats by Linz in Calumet City, IL. Call in and order ahead to get cut to order service.

  6. AvatarVictor

    Been vegetarian for 40 years, although I eat fish a few times per month. Sometimes we get our dog raw meat (beef, turkey, chicken, etc.) and I cut that up for him – he likes it a lot! I haven’t tasted it myself, though.

  7. AvatarRandy

    Tri Tip, or rib eye well done. My typical description when bar-b-qing is I like it “Better Dead than Red”, which seems to apply to the story (at least back in the 50’s and early 60’s – not so PC now days)

    1. AvatarNoah Graff

      Randy, Don’t you think you lose flavor when it’s so DEAD? And it gets so tough!

      I like a little char on the outside but I like red and juicy. Maybe even a bit bloody.

      Have you ever tasted something more bloody before? Or are you afraid to try it? I got all the respect in the world for your taste, but I’m just curious if you’ve had the alternative.

  8. Avatarbrawlerman

    Every year me and a friend purchase a cow or pig from the local FFA auction. We have it buthered and we split the meat. Beats anything you can buy in the store and about 1/2 the cost. Well except you have to have a freeezer and pay for electricity

  9. AvatarNoah Graff

    Has anybody ever tried grass fed beef? I’m talking entirely grass fed, not grass fed and then corn fed at the end. I think I can tell the difference. So delicious!

    I doubt the Russians are going Organic at this point.

    1. AvatarMisterchipster

      Can’t say I like it, it lacks the fine fat marbling of a well finished animal. The lack of that marbling causes the cut to be tough and not as tasty. Slow cooking and marinating help but it then lacks the char-broiled flavor I love.
      If you chose to do your research I believe you will find that a properly raised animal (no antibiotics or growth hormone that is finished on non-GMO/organic feed) poses lest risk and better flavor than plain grass fed. With any meat it is best to keep it to the minimum so why not eat the best in smaller quantities? Moderation is an important concept that has been lost in the USA.
      I have friends, relatives, and business associates in all aspects of the food chain and they all agree that honesty is lacking in our food chain and because of that the consumer is the loser.

  10. AvatarDick Crosby

    A medium well, 1/3 lb, cheeseburger, at the “Filling Station” on 11th st in New Milford, is pretty good too. There’s plenty of fries, and a small glass of Coors Light, goes for about

  11. AvatarAlan Hyman

    rib eye, prime of course, make that top shelf prime, super easy to cook perfect, put grill on high, sear steak on both sides to make it look professional with cross burns only takes a minute to do this then turn heat way back and slowly bring it to temperature, take your time, might take 10-20 minutes depending on thickness, turn it every few min. and do the finger test, perfect every time. note: rib eyes are harder to find and cook than NY strips, which is my 2nd choice. the NY strip is a uniform meat that cooks even, a rib eye will cook different from one side to other. beef is king and why that is the preferred weapon, I was at a B&B in Easton, MD and chef owner says heart attack Dick Cheney dines there and I ask what did he order? big thick juicy rib eye of course!

  12. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    My wife buys kosher meat which means that it is slaughtered in a humane way, which strikes me as an oxymoron. A filet mignon is not a kosher cut, but a ribeye is. God knows why? So I guess I’m a ribeye guy by default.
    I enjoy gnawing the bone, but I can’t shake the basic unhealthiness for a recovering heart attack victim to eat fatty cow flesh. Pass the quinoa, please.

  13. Avatarrick

    I love my meet RARE! That includes beef, pork and lamb. (not fish – no sushi!)
    My standard request is “black & blue” COLD in the middle!
    So if you like it rare the best is Steak Tartare.
    You take a nice piece of tenderloin, cube it, grind it and add some fresh crushed garlic, an egg or two, a tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard, Salt to taste, a splash of Worcestershire, and of course Freshly ground black pepper.
    Mix all together well, spread on a pumpernickel, or seedless rye bread.
    Garnish with some raw onion slices and a bit more Freshly ground black pepper.
    some like to also add anchovy fillets and capers.
    dig in and enjoy!


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