Kay Benson displays cuts of meat at the Dry Lakes Ranch Beef shop in Parowan, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Dry Lakes Ranch Beef, St. George News / Cedar City News
CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — A small family business from Southern Utah has been ranked among the top beef producers in the nation during the recently held Best in the West Beef Competition.
Reyes and Kacie Carballo run Dry Lakes Ranch, a farming and ranching operation dating back to the 1870s in Parowan. Together, they raise beef cattle and sell their beef in a brick-and-mortar shop on Parowan’s historic Main Street.
The competition brought together ranchers from major beef-producing states such as Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and more. Ranchers entered a selection of four cuts of beef, which were prepared by a professional chef in a double-blind taste test. The panel of celebrity judges scored the premium-quality beef on smell, texture and taste.
Kacie Carballo and her mother, Kay Benson, who run the meat shop together, carefully selected the cuts that would represent their operation best. They also let their youngest employee join in on the excitement; granddaughter Aria Carballo, who is just 8 years old, helped package and deliver the product to the competition in Riverton, Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone National Park on the way.
The beef cattle that are raised by the family in Iron County graze on native grasses, forbs and legumes in the mountain pastures below Brian Head, a local ski resort town. When the time comes, the beef cattle are finish-fed with a ration of nutrient-dense crops that were grown and harvested on their farm in Parowan.
Finishing cattle is one aspect that most cattle producers don’t conquer nearly as well as Reyes Carballo. It requires a keen sense of crop palatability and nutrient density, as well as the ability to interpret health and happiness in his cattle.
Their beef cattle are also dry-aged in a time-honored tradition.
“Properly dry-aged beef deepens the flavor of our product and tenderizes the beef in a way that mechanical or chemical tenderization can’t compete with,” said Kacie Carballo, owner and operator at the family’s meat shop. “Our beef has incredible flavor and hardly requires anything other than a dash of salt and pepper. Today’s consumer wants high-quality, clean and delicious food. They want an experience too, and we can offer all of that in one fell swoop.”
Dry Lakes Ranch Beef has also brought in products from other local farmers and ranchers and now offers pork, lamb, mutton, turkey and chicken to sell alongside their prize-winning beef.
Although they’re conveniently located, their customers aren’t limited to those in Southern Utah.
“We have customers coming from surrounding towns and cities on a daily basis, and regularly have customers coming from Salt Lake, Las Vegas and even California,” Benson said. “In fact, in the last two months, we’ve had our beef travel to New York City, Hawaii, Alaska and Mexico.”
They must be doing something right – they were the sole representatives from the state of Utah and ranked behind first place in a narrow three-point margin.
Dry Lakes Ranch Beef is located at 73 N. Main St. in historic downtown Parowan. They’re open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm, and are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week to haul cattle and fresh beef. They offer meat by the cut and by the pound, and also in bulk purchases if you prefer. Find them online or on social media @drylakesranchbeef.
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