The idea that Roseda Beef would partner with Cal Ripken is a no-brainer, given the Iron Man’s legacy in this region is (perhaps) second only to Francis Scott Key’s. That the Baltimore-based company would use the Hall of Famer’s name to market ground beef, however, invites an almost endless search for analogies (and bad puns) between Ripken and the gourmet, dry-aged product. Consider:
* The man who set Major League Baseball’s record for consecutive games played was the ultimate grinder. (Insert groan here.)
* Anyone who attempts to break Ripken’s record of 2,632 consecutive games will turn his body into ground beef. (Rim shot.)
* Like the beef for these high-end burgers, Ripken was born from good stock. (Stick finger in throat now.)
* As he did on professional diamonds, the Iron Man has made baseball a tastier experience at Ripken Stadium, where these burgers made their debut last summer. (Eye roll.)
Yes, Ripken Gourmet Burgers — which hit about 30 Giant stores today in Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District — look to merit the sterling name of the Oriole’s former shortstop. All We Can Eat spent the early afternoon talking with Roseda Beef owner Ed Burchell about the product.
“We dry-age every muscle on the carcass, which is expensive and not only that, it requires a lot of refrigerated space,” says Burchell during a phone chat.
Burchell says that Roseda dry-ages the full steer between 14 and 21 days before breaking down the Black Angus carcass into individual cuts. The full-carcass aging reduces the moisture loss that occurs when beef producers dry-age individual cuts.
As for the burger blend, Burchell says that Roseda combines cuts from all parts of the steer, save for the valuable rib and loin sections, which are reserved for steaks. This means that cuts from brisket to top round can be incorporated into the blend; at 12 percent fat, the patty tilts toward the lean side, rather than the old burger standard of 80 percent muscle, 20 percent fat.
What’s more, Burchell says that, unlike some so-called Angus producers, Roseda can trace each steer’s lineage. Every animal on Roseda’s property was sired with one of the company’s own Black Angus bulls and raised without growth hormones or daily doses of antibiotics. Burchell says that Roseda has one primary goal: to “create cattle that are highly marbled.”
With such high standards, Roseda’s products don’t come cheap. The box of four 6-ounce patties of Ripken Gourmet Burgers will run $9.99 at the retail level, Burchell says. That’s $2.50 a burger, without bun, condiments or fancy aged cheese.
Such pricing is the only way to survive in a highly competitive beef market, Burchell says. “If you can’t sell ground beef at a premium and you’re a small producer, you can’t make any money,” he says.
Which is where Ripken comes in: Roseda needed someone who could raise the profile of its pricy ground beef. You can’t do much better than Cal Ripken — at least around these parts. (New Yorkers may have a different opinion on the Iron Man.)
Should the burgers take off and Giant decides to offer the product in all its 170-plus stores in the Mid-Atlantic, Roseda may find itself in a tight spot. The producer may not have enough beef to cover demand.
“It’s going to be a function of how quickly we can find cattle that fit our program,” Burchell says. Giant, he adds, understands the situation.