Picnic-goers to sample Italian breed of beef amid rave reviews

REVELLERS at next weekend’s Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois, will encounter a new range of steak sandwiches which are healthier than regular beef, chicken or salmon.

Only launched a few weeks ago, Irish Piemontese Beef is receiving rave reviews from customers in Tipperary, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Meath and Dublin. Weightwatch groups are placing orders, and the company’s founders are confident this Italian breed of beef will be a big hit with chicken-weary dieters nationwide.

Tipperary farmer John Commins said: “From the health point of view, this is a great product. If you’re on a diet, there’s only so much chicken you can eat. A lot of people are telling us they’re delighted to be able to eat beef again, and that they love the flavour and tenderness of this beef.

“It’s the number one beef in Northern Italy, in places like Milan and Turin, and Italian food is among the world’s favourite foods. With so little fat on it, people expect it to lack flavour, but the butchers we’ve linked up with are stunned by the flavour. We think the Electric Picnic festival-goers will love it too.”

Commins has been breeding Piemontese cattle for the past six years, building up to this launch. In 2005, he went on a trade buying trip to Italy. Irish cattle farm incomes were poor at the time, and he needed to try a new tack.

A 110g serving of Pure Piemontese beef has 104 calories and delivers 21.6g of protein. This beats chicken (119 calories; 21.39g), regular beef (287; 17), and salmon (11g; 19.94).

“The bulls are muscular, a bit like Belgian Blues,” said John Commins. “They have lean muscle instead of fat. The net yield is 15% more than regular cattle, so there’s no trimmings and no wastage. Our cattle are fed in the fields, just like regular Irish cattle.

“The meat cooks about 20% faster, so it will take people a while to get used to the cooking, but the taste is fantastic.”

Commins has a herd of about 60 Piemontese cattle. His partner, Michael Fennelly, has a similar size herd at Stradbally, Co Laois. They have linked up with another 15 serious Irish Piemontese breeders for additional supplies. To fulfil their health claims, the company will only use pure pedigree cattle.

Another unique aspect of Irish Piemontese Beef’s business is that they have invested in chilled transport units to deliver vacuum-packed product to customers’ doors. Commins says they plan to deliver nationwide, and are currently setting up a chilled courier service.

Commins and his partners host tastings every Saturday at the Newbarn Farm Shop just outside Ashbourne, Co Meath, as well as Sundays at the Vicarstown Village Market in Laois.

“Our biggest fear is that we are getting such a huge response that we may not be able to keep up with demand,” said Commins.

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