Pop Quiz: Where would you expect to see a Texas longhorn?
A) In Texas
B) Emblazoned on the seductive chaps worn by University of Texas cheerleaders.
C) A 40-minute drive from Pittsburgh
D) All of the above
That's right, pardner -- those twisty-horned beasts and their tender loins can be found far from the dusty hinterlands of the Lone Star State ... on the front lawn of Dave and Neiva Ritchey's Beaver County home.
Dave, a native Pennsylvanian, and Neiva, born in Brazil, moved from Texas four years ago. There, the colorful cattle were a common sight in their Houston suburb.
However, in the Ritcheys' current homestead in New Galilee, Pa., Texas longhorns are something of an oddity. The couple often sees people get out of their cars and snap photos, as if they've just seen a UFO.
Neiva is the primary cattle-caretaker, a career that stunned her family. "I was a city girl," she says. "I knew nothing about raising cattle, but my husband did and now here I am."
The Ritchey farm sits on 20 acres; the couple owns another 40 acres where Dave cares for his show horses.
These days, longhorn "artisan" beef is sought for its low cholesterol and other low-fat properties, attributes enhanced by the cattle's grass-rich diet and genetics. Meat from cattle that feed on grass also contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), beta-carotene and vitamin E -- all nutrients that are desirable for today's health-conscious consumer. And all Ritchey beef products are hormone-free.
Still, with a fat content of only 3 to 5 percent, determining times for grilling and roasting can be tricky: Cooking time is half of what you'd expect from other types of beef and supermarket steaks. Shrinkage is nil, and a 3-pound roast takes only a little over an hour in the oven to be table-ready. In fact, over-cooking longhorn cattle is a common pitfall for first-timers.
The Ritcheys' beef ranges from $4.95 a pound for roasts to $14.99 a pound for petite filets. Ground beef and compacted patties start at $3.75 a pound. Products are available for pick-up at the ranch, or you can arrange for delivery. Meat products can also be shipped in an insulated cooler packed with dry ice.
And for those seeking no fat -- and no meat -- Ritchey offers the longhorn skulls for sale.
549 Patterson Road
New Galilee, Pa.