We share a table with some of the most important cattle ranchers from Galicia, responsible for slaughterhouses and cutting rooms. The everlasting question arises: how many of the T-bone steaks Which are sold throughout Spain as ox are actually ox? The answer, with all kinds of snorts, anecdotes and figures, is unanimous: almost none.
A beef steak really costs finding it in butchers and it's very expensive: usually around 60 euros per kilo. If they serve you a ribeye that weighs two or three kilos for less than that money it is impossible for it to be ox.
This kind of undercover fraud It is widespread, and is one of the reasons why the Protected Geographical Indication of Cow and Ox of Galicia. "The main reason why it is created is the same as the first one, of Galician veal, which is to differentiate the product to offer consumer guarantees," he explains. Jesus Gonzalez, president of the Galician Vaccine Regulatory Council, which already groups both PGIs. “The second aspect by which the denomination is created is because there is an abuse in the market of the name of 'Galicia' in the cow and ox, words are always used that carry the“ Galician ”, in cattle that are not always ours” .
How to differentiate the cow and the ox
The new PGI establishes in its regulation two commercial typologies: Galician cow and Galician ox and each of the channels will have a different label. As of today, 5,051 animals have been registered to obtain the certificate, of which 4,092 are cows and 99 oxen.
As he explains to Direct to the Palate the technical director of the Regulatory Council, Antonio Xende, the specifications of the PGI establish that the cow is a female that has given birth, with a minimum gestation, and the ox is a male animal castrated in the first year of life and that is sacrificed after four years.Antonio Xende, technical director of the Regulatory Council,
In order to obtain the certificate, the cattle must also be born, raised and slaughtered in Galicia. However, the IGP covers a large number of races, not just the typically Galician. As the farmers explain to us, Frisian cattle, limousine, Alpine brown or blonde aquitaine can be labeled as Galician cow and ox, not only the Galician blonde or brunette, which are the traditional breeds of the area.
In Xende's opinion, fraud around beef, although still prevalent, is not as common as two or three years ago, mainly due to consumer pressure. But the arrival of the first beef with ox certification can help further solve the problem.Chef Héctor López, from the España restaurant (on the left) has been in charge of directing the grill.
"The ox name was being used incorrectly for all beef," says Xende. “It would not be worrisome if that was defended publicly, saying that in Spain it is understood as an ox as the meat of males and females. In France or the United Kingdom they don't have a different name. But at the moment we are understood by male animal ox and female cow and the logical thing is that in the market we differentiate it and dignify the quality of each one ”.
In this regard, the technical director of the Council ensures that a good old cow has little to envy the ox in the gastronomic aspect: “The quality of a well-finished beef, well fattened, with a good greasing state is excellent. Surely you can distinguish, but the meat eater what you are looking for in beef is a infiltrated meat, with a good state of fat, and that both can give you. ”
From beef to gait
One of the main problems of oxen marketing is that it costs a lot to raise them: you just have to imagine the food to be given to an animal that can weigh 1,000 kilos for six or seven years. And yes, its price is high, but not for all cuts.
“There are pieces that pay a lot, but the farmer must pay the entire channel”, Explains González. “We want to get another series of pieces to go to fresh consumption, with a price above the average, and whatever goes by elaborated goes to consumption premium”.Paco, Héctor and Paco López, responsible for the Spain restaurant, in Lugo (on the right). THE Vet Javier Sande (on the left).
On the occasion of the release of the first cows with certificate -the oxen have not yet passed through the slaughterhouse- the Council has held a meal in which, precisely, it has wanted to value certain cuts that we do not usually associate with the big cattle.
Chefs Flavio Morganti, from the Galileo restaurant, from Ourense; Hector Lopez, from the España (Lugo) restaurant, and Javier Rodríguez Ponte (Taky), responsible for the YouTube channel 'Galician Beef Cooking School' prepared, for example, an exquisite fajita made with needle cooked at low temperature, pepper pearls, pickled onion and kimchy mayonnaise; a tataki made with the counter, with truffle vinaigrette, scallions and split pine nuts; or a stew of jarre and cheeks, accompanied by Lourená fabas, mushrooms and leeks.Needle fajitas, a success.
Finally, yes, he paraded the first certified steak. The president already warned that he lacked some maturation (and did not lie), but it was excellent, especially considering that the chefs prepared several dozen for everyone present.
The year of consolidation of Galician beef
The regulatory council took advantage of the presentation in society of the new PGI to offer data from its veteran Galician Beef designation, who is now 28 years old. Although the consumption in 2017 has been similar to that of 2016, registered farms have grown by 1.1%, so the president considers that “Galician veal grows in the field and consolidates its market figures”.
They are also positive export figures, which have grown 3%. In addition to northern Portugal and Andorra, where Galician veal was already well positioned, the council has opted to place it in Germany, where it is expected that the import will continue to grow in the coming years.Images of the certification of the first Galician cow channels, which we have tasted today.
Currently, the council faces Two big challenges. In the first place, regulate production, to be more or less constant. “There are months that are born 14,000 and months that are born less than 8,000,” explains Gónzalez. "It is practically double and generates tensions and commercial problems because there are constant variations that make agreements with distribution difficult." Second, "refute" people who ask that less meat be eaten or, directly, stop eating. "You have to have arguments against them," says the president, who insists that eating meat "is essential in any diet."
In this sense, the president explains that "many times it is easier to overcome a nutritional issue than ideology." Ángeles Vázquez Mejuto, conselleira do Medio Rural de la Xunta de Galicia, said that “Primary Care physicians endorse and recommend the intake of up to four servings a week of beef and focus on the consumption of beef does not increase for nothing the cardiovascular field ”. In this field, of course, they plan to fight.
Images | PGI Cow and ox from Galicia Live to the Palate | Who said there is no longer (practically) authentic beef?
Live to the Palate | Baked beef tenderloin with red wine sauce