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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 03-07-2008, 05:58 AM   #1
nascarchuck
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Question Choosing Meat

Again, I have looked around for answers, but need to ask the question.

When purchasing meat for a comp, how do you pick a good piece of meat? What do you look for?

When cooking a brisket, what cut of brisket do you use?

When cooking ribs, again, what cut of meat?

Thanks for puttin up with me guys!
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Unread 03-07-2008, 07:19 AM   #2
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Quite a bit goes into picking a good piece of meat.......and I think part of it is luck, I don't know that I could do a description justice. I know what "looks good" to me and go with that. For the brisket I look for a certain amount of fat, the color of the fat, the color of the beef.........and it all comes with cooking a bunch of them and taking notes. Ribs, I buy them in the cryvac packs, a case or so and go through and trim them and separate them by what looks the best, lack of shiners, uniform thickness, etc.......keep a pile for comps and pile for just eating, label and freeze them. Butts - they all seem pretty close to the same to me (maybe that explains my scores) but I try to find one that is uniform shape/thickness not overly fat, etc. Chicken - I use thighs, I try to find some that the skin looks good and uniform size as best I can.

Brisket - I use full packers, choice grade

Ribs - Full spare slabs and trim them down St. Louis style myself.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 08:26 AM   #3
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You're definetly moving to the next level when you get to meat selection. Unles you have access to alot of meat to choose from you'll have to make due with what's in the meat case.

Ribs, There are several things to check for. look for spare ribs that have "straight" bones of at least 4"-5" from end to end. You will have to pick up the slabs and try to feel through the cryovac bags to checkk them out. You would be surprised how some slabs are cut. Also try to find ribs that are 4 -4 1/2 lbs per slab with a layer of meat on top of the bone. Make sure that there are no shiners "bones showing through the meat". Really good ribs can be tough to find.

Brisket, In order of preference I would look for Cheap prime packers, CAB (Certified Angus Beef) packers, choice packers. I look for briskets that are 11-13 lbs with a thick end on the flat. 1-1/2" - 2" is great. I find the one that are more loose or flexible end up better than the stiffer ones.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 09:10 AM   #4
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Quality of meat is, to me, the most important part of BBQ competition.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 09:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Podge View Post
Quality of meat is, to me, the most important part of BBQ competition.

I agree. That is why I don't mind buying extra meat to get the exact pieces that I want. I can always cook those "reject" pieces of meat for someone that is looking to pay me for my BBQ. Or I save them and do practice cooks with the reject meat.

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Unread 03-07-2008, 09:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nascarchuck View Post

When cooking a brisket, what cut of brisket do you use?

When cooking ribs, again, what cut of meat?

Thanks for puttin up with me guys!
The best answer I've seen to this question is, cook what you are used to cooking.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 10:56 AM   #7
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We grab cryovaced flats, baby backs and butts, from Sams and go for fresh thighs from the local grocery.

I mostly just look for fat and color of the meat. Other than that, I'm not too much a meat expert.

Thinking about finding a local butcher for this year and just trusting him and telling him this is what I need, give me the good stuff.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 11:44 AM   #8
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I had a meat Mngr at Sams come up to me and ask what I was doing . I must have been speending too much time looking over the meat. Most of the time ribs are luck . Only one slab meat side up. The last I got had a great show slab, the other two looked like they lost a dog fight. Ok for home cooking useless at a comp.

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Unread 03-07-2008, 12:16 PM   #9
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I cook whole packers for brisket and what I look at whn I am purchasing them is the amount of fat on them the size of the Flat since that is what I turn in and the feel of it, I tend to go with briskets that have a little give to them in the pack over the ones that are really stiff. I always buy choice or above.

For ribs I do Baby backs Since I buy them in three packs you can only see the top of one slab but on that I look to make sure there are no shiners and that there isn't an excessive amount of Fat. I also tend to go with the heaviest pack I can find where the top one looks good.

Butts I look at the fat I want a good amount on the top side, and since I normally buy them in two packs I look to see that they are uniform in size.

Chicken I normally just buy a big pack of thighs at sams (Tyson), they are pretty uniform plus since I am trimming them it doesn't really matter to much about the other stuff.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 06:36 PM   #10
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Brisket - Size is important. I try to stay in the 10-12# packer range. That way I have an idea of how long my cook is going to be. Look for good marbleing (is that a word)without too big of a fat cap. Also look for a brisket wit a thick flat. That is getting harder and harder to find here. A thick flat means thicker, prettier slices. Grade has never meant much to me. I have cooked a bad (ok I don't make bad meat, just not good as some of the others) choice brisket and made alot of great select ones. Part of the art, skill and craft of BBQ is taking an inferior cut of meat and making something beautiful out of it.

Ribs - I use spares. Can't justify baby backs in my mind. Too expensive for that little piece of meat. Avoid shiners when you can see them. Buy cryovac ribs or if you are lucky enough to have a butcher nearby (not me unfortunately) go there and pick your ribs.

Pork Butt - Bone in. 5lbs or bigger. That's it.

Chicken - Thighs. Try to get a pack where most are the same size. If the skin is REALLY yellow, skip it.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 06:45 PM   #11
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Great tips! Keep em coming!

I do have a question though... I see several references to "shiners" when buying ribs. What are shiners?

Thanks guys!!!
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Unread 03-07-2008, 06:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nascarchuck View Post
Great tips! Keep em coming!

I do have a question though... I see several references to "shiners" when buying ribs. What are shiners?

Thanks guys!!!
Bone showing thru the meat, or the meat cooked totally off the bone.
Not referring to the "pull back" on the ends while cooking.

BAD

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Unread 03-07-2008, 06:49 PM   #13
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Shiners are when the meat on ribs are trimmed so much that the bone shows thru. Kinda like beef ribs in the grocery store.
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Unread 03-07-2008, 06:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmista View Post
Shiners are when the meat on ribs are trimmed so much that the bone shows thru. Kinda like beef ribs in the grocery store.

Oh my! Guess that I have been lucky!!!

Thanks...

Didnt I read that you were moving to Texas awhile back? Did ya ever do it?
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Unread 03-07-2008, 07:03 PM   #15
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Finally found a few minutes to put my nickle in.

Brisket:
We cook CAB packers 11 pounds and up. Have cooked everything I can find from WM Select to Kobi and in-between. We can fark up any grade or quality of meat, including Kobi
Finally gave up shopping and just buy CAB by the case. Cost effective and extremely consistent. The freezer is our friend once they are aged.

Butts:
7 lb (plus) bone in. We look for marbling--lots of fat throughout the butt, not just in limited areas or on the surface. Grab them and freeze when they jump off the shelf at me.

Ribs:
Don't have a clue yet

Chicken:
Hopefully, small thighs from young chickens without yellow skin. We cook a lot and sort them out for turn-in.

Disclaimer--none of this has made us any significant $$
But, we have been real consistent lately and meat selection is no longer a challenge like it used to be.
Just gotta fix some little boo-boos every event and all will be well.

Just my thoughts.

TIM
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