Rubia Gallega: Australia Has a New Premium Beef That’s More Tender Than Wagyu, Extremely Rare, and Available In Only One Restaurant
Its meat is twice the size of an Angus, and marbled like Wagyu, with an earthy, nutty flavour. You’ll find it in one restaurant in the country, and even then only very occasionally.
by Pilar Mitchell, Broadsheet (AU)
19 November 2021
The first time Hunter St Hospitality culinary director and Rockpool Bar & Grill executive chef Corey Costelloe saw a Rubia Gallega carcass he was shocked at the size. “It was very striking – almost double the size of any other animal we have – like something from The Flintstones,” he says.
“To put it into perspective, a ready-to-butcher Angus is 350 kilograms. A Wagyu is much bigger; it’s 450 kilograms. The Rubia Gallega is 735 kilograms. Our butcher is a 40-year veteran and he said he’s never seen anything like it.”
Rubia Gallega (pronounced “roobeeyah gah-yeh-gah”) is a Spanish heritage breed from Galicia, a region on Spain’s north-western tip that borders Portugal, and is surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Bred as draught animals and for beef, the mahogany-coloured cattle are docile but incredibly strong.
“When the animal is alive, we worked out through ultrasound that its fat is liquid,” says David Blackmore, the fifth-generation farmer who pioneered Wagyu in Australia. “For 100 years they were breeding animals that could work the longest and recover the quickest. They reckon the marbling of fat in the muscle is liquid, not solid, so it can be converted to energy faster.”
For the last 10 years, Blackmore has been breeding Australia’s first and only herd of Rubia Gallega. The new herd is his retirement project while his son Ben runs the Fullblood Black Wagyu herd of 3500 cattle.
“You need those numbers to produce between 60 and 70 carcasses per month. I’m thinking I’ll have a Rubia Gallega herd of 250 to 300, which will produce 15 to 20 carcasses per month,” he tells Broadsheet.
Because the animals are grass-fed, the resulting meat of a mature, 40-month-old Rubia Gallega is paler than the deep red of an Angus, and the fat is buttercup yellow.
“The chlorophyll in grass produces keratin, which makes the fat yellow. From a milking cow point of view, the same keratin is what makes butter yellow,” Blackmore says.
The size of the animal and colours of the muscle and fat piqued Costelloe’s curiosity, but he was dubious about the texture of such a massive animal. “When I saw it, I thought it was going to chew like an old boot, but I was very, very surprised. I absolutely loved it – the flavour, the texture. It’s quite milky, and more tender than Wagyu, Angus or any other breed,” Costelloe says.
“Neil Perry described Wagyu as having a buttery, caramel flavour. I’ve been asked to describe Rubia Gallega, and to me it’s more natural. It’s got an earthy, nutty flavour. And the texture is unbelievable,” Blackmore says.
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