It’s All About The Call │ 1:1 with David Stidham

StidhamNo one was more shocked than Pitmaster, David Stidham when he got “three top twenty calls” at his first major invitational last fall. A relative newcomer to the professional BBQ circuit, (with less than 20 competitions in his first two years), Stidham is wildly enthusiastic about the 2015 season, further honing his skills and the amazing success of his competition BBQ sauce.

How did you get interested in competition BBQ?

Most guys like to grill – and, of course, every guy thinks he’s the best. I fit that description.

I’ve always been someone who likes to cook and experiment with sauces and my own unique flavor profiles. I used to make my own pepper sauces, steak marinades, infused olive oils and so forth, and give them as gifts to my family and friends. I’ve dabbled in wings, almost got serious about it, and even in chocolate.

One day, my son, Jacob, and I were watching BBQ Pitmasters on TV; he was 8 at that time. He said, “Dad you could do this! Why don’t we start a BBQ team?” It definitely piqued my interest.

I didn’t even have a smoker at the time, so I called a long-time friend in Nashville (Jason Cole of The Hot Cole’s BBQ Team) to chat with him to get advice for smokers. I just wanted to get a smoker to cook for family, and he convinced me to get something a little bigger “in case” I wanted to compete someday in the future (he knew how competitive I was). I took his advice, ordered a large pellet smoker, started cooking that winter and fell in love with it. That’s when I knew I was going to end up competing sooner than planned.

In early May of 2013, we borrowed someone’s camper, showed up and didn’t really know what to expect from our first pro BBQ competition. My wife, two kids and my dog were all there; it was a chaotic mess.

By the time the cooking and turn in s were over we were exhausted, – it’s really a 30 hour process – so when we got to the awards, we just wanted to see who won. There’s no way we expected to get a call. It blew our minds when we placed 2nd in Chicken, 3rd in Pork, 7th in Brisket, 11th in ribs and 3rd overall!American Royal Ribbon

When I came back from the stage with that very first ribbon in my hands, my hands were shaking. My wife said she’d never seen me like that before – I was stunned by it too.

How did your family like the experience?

A large portion of the [BBQ] population is family, so it’s a fun atmosphere. We got team hats and shirts – my kids want to enter some of the junior competitions this year. We typically don’t even see the boys (Jacob, now 11, and Jack, 15) at comps now till the awards.

Where did you grow up?

I was a military brat, born in Tampa, Florida, but grew up throughout the southeast including Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and even lived in South Carolina for a while. Most of my adult life has been in Nashville, and I also spent a lot of time in Memphis. I grew up loving BBQ but never thought about competitions back then. I live in a small town just north of Madison, Wisconsin now.

How’s that working out?

Wisconsin is one of the fastest growing states for competition BBQ, and the people are very genuine and friendly. We moved here for my full time job – I have been blessed with this wonderful hobby and am very fortunate to be able to do this. BBQ people are the real deal, and they all are willing to give you a hand. Many folks here in Wisconsin really helped me, and I am very grateful for them.

How did your BBQ sauce making come about?current sauce

It was never my intent to sell BBQ sauce. I just wanted to have my own flavor profile. But when we came in 3rd overall out of the gate, people came up to me and wanted to try the sauce I used. They really seemed to like it, and several people asked me to make them some. It all kind of snow balled from there.

I initially made it in my kitchen, and that’s how we ended up coming up with the name for our BBQ team. I first used wine bottles to package the sauce – that’s why we’re A Fine Swine, like a fine wine. When demand grew, I had to go to a commercial bottle. I never expected this to catch on as it has; the sauce is now sold nationwide through a wide variety of mostly online BBQ stores. I have to stock 2-3 full pallets of two different sauces in my garage at all times as more and more orders continue to come in.

You mentioned the ‘cost of competition’ before – how challenging is that?

Between supplies, travel, meat, entry fees, fuel, equipment, etc., it costs anywhere from $800-$1,200 a weekend to compete. It gets pricey; it’s not a cheap man’s game. I have heard others say how amazing it is the amount of time, effort, and dollars we spend just to hear our name called. It’s true. But it is also about the camaraderie and the true friendships we make. I have made more friends through BBQ in the past couple years than I can count, and that’s really what it’s all about.

I can only compete about 14-17 times per year tops right now, but if time and money weren’t an object, I would love to do this full time, every weekend. I’d love to see how I’d do if I was able to compete full time. Maybe someday I will.from the stage at American Royal

What are your current competition goals?

Last year, I had set a goal of winning my first Grand Championship and qualifying for the American Royal Invitational Tournament. I was fortunate enough to accomplish that and more as we not only won our first GC, we also won a reserve GC as well as numerous category wins and top ten’s overall. (Pictured above: View from the stage at the American Royal.)

I was fortunate enough to have two top 20’s with a 16th in Chicken and 17th Ribs out of 186 Grand Champion teams at the American Royal Invitational. The next day was the American Royal Open, where all the grand champions from the Invitational plus hundreds of other professional teams across the country competed. There were nearly 600 teams! I got called for 15th in Chicken and placed 70th overall which was a very proud moment for me.

I would love to win the American Royal. I want to get my feet really dirty.

What do you mean by that?

“Getting your feet dirty” refers to where the Royal is held. You get your feet dirty if you get called because you have to walk across an arena where livestock shows and rodeos take place to get your award.11157989_10153209432539886_1605373569_n

Competitive Pitmasters are highly dedicated to their protocols. What are some of the things you use?

I use a gravity fed Southern Q Limo and bring a junior gravity feed along too. I also only use Royal Oak charcoal and Hickory and Cherry wood chunks.

Do you “inject”?

I will inject brisket and pork.

How about flavor?

I use my sauce, a variety of commercial rubs and sauces and mix them all up.

How did you first hear about Buedel?

I saw you on BBQ Pitmasters. You really do have a good rep for providing great meats – especially the Compart and Creekstone brands that people are already winning with on the tour.

Is that why you like competing with our pork butts and briskets?

When I start out with the best meat, it helps me to compete to win. You have to use top quality to be competitive – you can’t run a race with an Escort engine in a Ferrari body. If you start out with high quality meat, odds are you’ll finish high. It’s worth the extra investment in your products.

What do you think is the difference between winning and not winning?

I believe it’s the details and being very organized. There’re a whole lot more details that go into this than people know. You have to be organized and consistent, have a system that is a refined process and be lucky; there’s a lot of people out there cooking the same stuff you are.

image2Follow A Fine Swine on Twitter and Facebook. If you’d like to try David Stidham’s sauce, find it any of these online retailers: thebbqsuperstore.com   atlantabbqstore.com   thekansascitybbqstore.com   bigpoppasmokers.com

Buedel Fine Meats is the official pork butt, ribs and brisket supply partner to A Fine Swine this season.

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Meat Merchandising │Next & Best Outlooks with Catie Beauchamp

The daughter of a hog farmer, Catie Beauchamp says she always knew she wanted to be in “AG” when she grew up. Today she is the VP of Technical Services at Colorado Premium, with a Ph.D. in Meat Safety & Quality.

Beauchamp’s3.18CPstaffpic (2) command of the beef production chain is highly astute, which includes, animal transport, harvest, carcass chilling, fabrication, grinding and storage. Her expertise in food technologies and safety is rivaled only by a laser focused passion for creating the best products for her customers.

How did you actually get into the “meat business”?

I knew I always wanted to be involved with agriculture, but on the nutrition side, which is what I started with in college. Then along the way, you meet people – in food microbiology and food production. That is how I came to do my graduate work in food science, meat science, and meat microbiology.

What do your days look like now?

From a departmental perspective, we do quality assurance, food safety, regulatory compliance, tech support for customers and R&D. We work in a high energy environment. When I started at CP [six years ago] we had 80-100 people and one production facility. Now we have three production facilities and two storage facilities. At any given time we have 30 projects in process. Our rate of commercialization is about 50% – it’s incredible!

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite area would be R&D. It’s fun to look into the future. You’re getting constant challenges, and when you resolve it, it’s a win. I love to create new products.

How do you do that with meat?

What we’re dealing with is an animal is that’s getting bigger and bigger. We have to address: How do we cut that? How should we process that? What do we need to do to have a good plate experience? You have to look at different cuts of meat in the carcass. There are other things we can use for things you wouldn’t expect.

For example, thin meats [flan3.19 CP Antimicrobial Interventionks, inside and outside skirts] are expensive, yet popular – but there’s only so much to be had because it’s such a small portion of the carcass. We can create new thin meats from other muscles that can mimic traditional thin meats. Skirts are expensive because they are in high demand and come from the small portion of the carcass. (Pictured Above: Antimicrobial Intervention Cabinet at one of Colorado Premium’s production facilities.)

Is it possible to come up with new steak cuts – like the Vegas Steak?

Yes, and no. The muscles without a lot of defects are pretty well known, but there should be a couple more ‘Vegas Steaks’ possible.

The combinations of muscles are standard in the Meat Buying Guide, but for a Packer to create a whole new SKU, break the muscles differently, etc., there has to be a market for it. You need to be able to merchandise all of it, plus find new ways to produce value.

From a steak perspective, the new novel items are going to have to be addressed in ways they haven’t been before, we need to look at fabricating. In addition to proper aging, tenderizing and injections, we’re going to have to look outside the box for processing.

Injection is a hot trend, how does that work from a production standpoint?

We marinate a lot of products, whether it’s tumble margination or injection. We do it for retail and food service. From a retail perspective, we provide products that are cook ready. From a food service perspective, we’re giving a little bit of insurance to meat drying out when cooked, especially for less than prime products.

How many speci3.19 PORK ROAST 2 - CITRUS HERBal service requests are you getting?

It depends on what market sector you’re talking about. In food service, restaurant groups are constantly reinventing themselves to stay competitive, usually on an annual basis. We work with a lot of up and coming concepts; our food service customers want to be on top of what’s new and available. (Pictured Left: Citrus Herb Pork Roast exclusively developed for a private label customer.)

In retail, the Millennials have impacted our business in a big way – they want clean labels, have more adventurous palettes, etc. Low sodium, clean labels and animal handling are key issues.

What is your definition of a ‘clean label’?

There are two sides to that question; one is the actual protein product itself. A portion of the population is interested in the use of antibiotics in animal feeding, etc. However, that’s still at a niche level and cost is also prohibitive for a lot of consumers.

The second part speaks to an ingredient perspective: people want to see things familiar to them on a retail package. (Food service is now adopting to that too.) Some ingredients are preservatives, some are for shelf life, but there’s also antimicrobials that ensure safety. Helping our customer base understand the purpose of antimicrobials is important to food safety.

What are your expectations on cattle supply?

As we start increasing the cattle supply we’ll be looking at something different – you still have areas in your prime states that don’t have water, plus other weather interferences that occur. There are people being weeded out of production groups that may never come back.

It’s very hard to project what volumes we’re going to have. The historical trends, peaks, and valleys can be thrown off trend, even when supply and demand are better. When consumers are paying higher prices, we need to produce healthy and affordable proteins. We have to get really good at how we merchandise beef.

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Fine Swine: Dry Aged Compart Duroc

Dry Aged Pork ChopsWhat can you find that’s new, unique and affordable to put on your menu? Just when you think there’s nothing on the market that could beat the epicurean luxury of dry aged beef, Compart Farms delivers a stunning alternative – dry aged Duroc pork.

Think dry aged pork is crazy? Think again! Compart Duroc Dry Aged Pork can spark new business for your operation, drive higher food margins, delight your guests and build customer base.

What Makes Fine Swine

Where the Black Angus breed of cattle is synonymous with superior quality, the same phenomenon is also true of Duroc pork. Duroc pork has been identified and documented by the National Pork Producers as a superior genetic source for improved eating.

Duroc-BoarOften described as “red pigs with drooping ears”, Duroc pork is thought to have come from Spain and Portugal dating back to the 1400’s. Unlike commodity pork deemed “the other white meat” by the National Pork Board, Duroc pork is bright reddish pink in color.

Pigs in the Compart Family Farms’ Duroc sired meat program, are of the same genetic makeup and fed the same proprietary ration throughout the growing and finishing phases. This combination reduces the variability routinely found in the pork industry today.

Only Compart’s Duroc pork contains a higher percentage of intramuscular fat (marbling) and a higher pH. Unlike ordinary pork, it is more heavily marbled, yet still 96% lean.

How Dry Aged Pork Works

Dry aging is an old world tenderization process that creates a more complex flavor in the meat. The outside of the meat becomes hard and envelops a crust, while the meat inside the crust develops a fine rich, concentrated flavor and tender texture, as the natural moisture in the muscle evaporates. When the meat has reached its desired age, the inedible outer crust is carefully removed and discarded.

Photo Feb 16, 5 26 52 PMTo properly dry age you must have separated refrigerated space with precise temperature, relative humidity and air circulation controls along with specific UV lighting to control bacteria growth to create the perfect environment. Compart Duroc whole pork loins sit in their dry aging room for 7-21 days compared to longer time spans used for beef. A shorter aging period is possible because pork loins are smaller and more delicate than beef, and thus take less time to achieve the benefits of dry aging.

The naturally more abundant intramuscular fat present in Compart Duroc pork provides the ability to adapt to the moisture loss of dry aging while still retaining the juiciness in the finished product. These attributes deliver optimum conditions for the dry aging process.

The end result is a firmer yet tender texture with a well refined flavor finish. Dry aging combined with the favorable muscle pH and marbling qualities of the Compart Duroc breed elevates pork to a whole new level.

Bag It Now!

Photo Feb 16, 5 27 32 PMTraditionally speaking, pork has not been dry aged – until now. The best cuts in this category you can buy for your menu are Compart’s Duroc dry aged pork Porterhouses and Ribeyes.

Compart Duroc Dry Aged Pork is an affordable, exciting new option to enhance your menu. It gives meat loving customers a new dining option and helps you drive additional margins for your operation.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Put Your Money Where Your Pork Is

What do you do when your brand message teeters fictional? Put Your Money Where Your Pork Is – which is exactly what Chipotle did last month when they discovered one of their pork suppliers failed to meet their highly branded loyalty to animal welfare.

Walk the TalkChipotle

It’s easy to say you “serve only the best”, but how willing are you actually to walk the talk? Chipotle devotes pages of their website to FWI – Food With Integrity. (BOLD, to say the least!) Their written devotion to FWI is so in depth, in fact, one could characterize their marketing mantra as bordering on the obsessive.

When you repeatedly advertise a commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and farmers, you better be willing to back it up. Chipotle could have easily dealt with the supply chain fail on the QT but opted instead to address it publically – a definite walk the talk move on their part.

When a national chain opts for transparency over liquidity, it’s big (and refreshing) news. Chipotle pulled their pork carnitas from hundreds of their restaurants and posted a sign reading: Sorry, no carnitas. Due to supply constraints, we are currently unable to serve our responsibly raised pork. Trust us, we’re just as disappointed as you, and as soon as we get it back we’ll let the world know. Customer no carnitasloyalty and positive press prevailed pursuant.

Chain Reaction

Another point in Chipotle’s favor was the fact they refused to name the supplier who failed to meet their standards. In lieu of finger pointing, they chose to help bring the supplier’s “operations into compliance.” It was a class move by corporate standards, but not one void of potential other subsequent fallouts.

Whenever your customer takes a public eye hit, a trickle down chain reaction can occur. Such was the case for Niman Ranch, one of the most respected brands in the business and also Chipotle’s largest pork supplier. Was Niman negligent? Certainly not, but those, not in the know would certainly wonder.

Niman prudently followed Chipolte’s lead and spoke publically about it. What ensued was a highly publicized trail of what Niman was doing to help Chipotle get back up to speed in a real time demonstration of what a solid working relationship between merchant and supplier should look like.

NimanThe crux of this public relations issue is deeply attached to what makes meat natural – how animals are raised with respect to their environments if they’re free of growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. When you are committed to honoring sustainable practices, expediency is a non-issue – it takes more time to produce things naturally.

Unlike cows that bear one calf at a time over a 9 + month gestation period, it only takes 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days for a litter of pigs to be born. 114 days may not seem like a long time, but add to that the amount of time it takes to reach harvest maturity, and it becomes vividly clear how a supply chain gap can quickly sever fluid output.

Moral of the Story

Chipotle’s challenge was twofold: 1) tarnish brand perception by operating outside of message and 2) risk the loss of an ingratiated mass appeal. Offending Millennials, now the biggest consumer population in the U.S., who rank honesty as a top priority, and Chipotle almost just as high, wasn’t worth the risk. Anything but a celeritous and straightforward move could prove fatal for years to come.

The moral of this story is transparency trumps short term gain.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Meat Picks | 9.12.14

Hoftoberfest2014oktoberfest-v31

Tonight is THE night at Hofbräuhaus Chicago—the kick off to an amazing seven-week long celebration—Oktoberfest. Unlike any of those weekend tent events you may go to, there’s no better way to take in this annual German-pa-loosa than at Hofbräuhaus.

If you haven’t been to Hofbräuhaus yet, you absolutely don’t know what  you’re missing. From the inside view of their shiny micro-pretzelsbrewing vessels to the gigantic pretzels flown in from Germany and their amazing pork shanks and schnitzels, they take European ambience and cuisine to whole new level.

Celebrity keg tappers, food specials, live music (every day of the week), contests porkshankand more will elevate the routinely jovial Hofbräuhaus atmosphere through October 31st. And, of course, there will be “Oktoberfestbier”, a full-bodied lager with a “toffee like sweetness.” Hofbrähaus still uses recipes “handed down by the Duke of Bavaria, over 400 years ago”—you can’t get more authentic than that.

Make reservations online and check out their Sept/Oct newsletter here for more info. #HoftoberfestCHI

Foot Long Reaches New Lengths

100ftBratThe town of Bellville, Illinois plans on celebrating their 200th anniversary with a porkwurst of preposterous proportion. The town will attempt to cook a 200 foot “gluten-free lean pork” bratwurst at their bicentennial celebration on Saturday, September 21st.

In August, an attempt to do a 50 foot brat failed, but the town team of dedicated volunteers successfully cooked a 100 foot ‘wurst earlier this week in preparation for the 200 foot milestone. Read more at belleville200.com.

Craft for Conservancy

ChiAleFestA new festival will premiere at Grant Park next weekend. The Chicago Ale Fest, dedicated to the celebration of American craft beer, will run from Friday, September 19th through Saturday the 20th at Grant Park.

More than 200 beers from over 100 breweries will be featured, in addition to live music and food from area restaurants such as, Shaw’s Crab House and Tokio Pub, to name a few. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Grant Park Conservancy.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Outpost Road Trip

Buedel’s Corporate Chef, Rlogouss Kramer, Master Butcher, Peter Heflin, and Logistics Manager, Michael Tibbs, took a road trip to Outpost Natural Foods recently to help celebrate Outpost’s fourth store opening in Mequon, Wisconsin.

Outpost is the fourth largest natural foods co-op (by sales) in the U.S. They are known for providing a unique, fun and educational shopping experience of fresh, local and natural foods, including hard to find items. They are a IMG_20140621_104539444_HDR“locally-owned cooperative” committed to sustainable living, fair trade, local growers and community. Outpost stores are “year-round farmers markets.”

When you send a bunch of meat guys out to celebrate something (anything, for that matter) you have to know there’ll be loads of high quality meat on hand. Russ, Peter and Michael spent the day “slow-smoking” Niman Ranch St. Louis Ribs. (Russ used his competition BBQ team’s glaze and sauce. They won a Grand Champion title at the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ photo 3last year – and don’t even think about asking him for the recipes.) The Buedel team prepared “split” ribs (cut in half for appetizer sized servings) for the event.

The Huen Family, one of Niman Ranch’s family farms from Fulton, Illinois, was also on hand to talk to customers about the way they raise their hogs for Niman Ranch, and answer questions. (Buedel supplies Outpost with Niman Ranch products and organic poultry.) Peter says the Outpost people are just great to work with and are totally dedicated to keeping to their core vision. “The Outpost staff is behind the whole movement and their customer base is very supportive, giving a lot of feedback to all the departments about sustainability and humane practices.”

St. Louis Style Ribs were first pophoto 1pularized in the 1930′s by butchers in the St. Louis area. They are actually Spare Ribs with the rib tips cut off to dispose of cartilage and gristle with very little meat. St. Louis Ribs didn’t become an “official USDA standard” until the 1980’s. Both Spare and St. Louis Style Ribs are most commonly grilled and smoked in the southern regions of the U.S. For more info about ribs, check our Meat Up post on Ribs 101 for Summer Grilling. If you’d like to try some St. Louis Ribs in your own backyard, here’s a recipe from Russ:

St. Louis Spare Ribs at Home

Spread a light coating of yellow mustard and liberally sprinkle your favorite BBQ Spice/Rub on both sides of the ribs.

Bake ribs on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes until lightly brown. Transfer ribs to roasting pan with about an inch of water on the bottom, cover tightly and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until meat is tender between the bones.

Preheat grill to a medium heat. Cook ribs until they are nice and brown on the outside. Brush your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides of ribs when they’re just about ready and let the sauce glaze.

Have a great Fourth of July everyone!

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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5 Tips to Keep from Paying More

One of our vetupsidedownpiggybankeran team members has been in the meat business for almost 50 years. To the many pricing peaks and valleys he’s seen over the decades, he remedies, “It’s not about us, but how we can help our customers to keep from paying more.”

This year we’ve seen tremendous price inflation on beef and pork. Beef prices are higher due to the low cattle supply, and pork prices are higher due to do the PED virus killing piglets.  As consumers, we’re paying more for commodities like bacon and ground beef.  On average, prices are as much as 20% higher than last year.

Our job as a partner to our customers at Buedel Fine Meats is to help them deal with rising prices and supply them with options to ‘keep from paying more’ than necessary in a rising market. How can you control costs in a rising market then? Here are five savings tips you can use:

1.  Bill & Hold

An option we offer our customers when prices are on the rise is the opportunity to Bill & Hold. They make a volume purchase at current market rates, and we hold their inventory, delivering it to them as needed – it is a highly flexible solution.

This method gives customers a fixed predictable cost for as much inventory as they can purchase without having to take delivery all at once. Customers can then reap the benefit of a predictable food cost with locked-in menu profits on the items they select for delivery when they need them. One of our customers who took advantage of this option currently enjoys grndbeefground beef at 50% less cost than the current market price.

2.  Reduce Portion Size

You can keep from paying more out of pocket while still keeping product quality intact by making portion size adjustments as a means of saving center of the plate cost. Reducing the portion size by just one ounce can deliver a 13% reduction in your out of pocket cash flow.

For example, let’s say you serve a 8oz Tenderloin Filet that costs you $18.00/lb. Your portion cost on this would be $9.00, but a 7oz portion cost would be $7.88, a cash flow savings of $1.13 per portion. This type of cost reduction can add up substantially over time.

3.  Change Trim Specs  

French and Rust Cut Pork Rib ChopsThe more you trim off the steak or chop, the lower the finished good yield. The lower the finished good yield, the higher the cost. Evaluate your trim specifications and determine if you can adjust them to increase the yield and reduce your food costs.

Here are two examples of how this works:

If you’re serving a French Cut Bone-in Rib Chop, consider an un-Frenched version and offer it on your menu as a “Rustic Cut”. Leaving the meat on the bone [un-Frenched] can reduce your portion costs by as much as 20%.

For center-cut only steaks or chops on your ala carte menu, consider the options for purchasing full-cut steaks or chops. The yield difference can reduce your food portion cost by 10%-20%.

4.  Use Alternative Cuts

HangersTake advantage of value cuts, which you can offer on your menu at a lower price, yet deliver the same or higher margins for your operation.  An example of these would be hanger steaks, bistro steaks and double cut bone-in pork chops.

5.  Buy More & Decrease Deliveries

Purchasing more items when prices are rising seems like an oxymoron.  However, consider how the challenges of your purveyor partners factors in the equation. If you purchase just one or two items from a purveyor, then that purveyor needs to configure your pricing to cover 100% of their distribution costs on just those items with each delivery.

Distributors will typically determine your average delivery size and set pricing accordingly. If you work with your purveyor, to purchase more of the items they offer and/or reduce by the number of  deliveries, the purveyor will have more flexibility to spread their costs/margins over multiple items per delivery. This gives your purveyor the benefits of economies of scale and cost reductions that they can (and usually will) pass on to you. Remember, quality service purveyors want to earn your business.

Takeaway

Five methodLightbulb2s you can use to help defray meat costs in a rising market are Bill & Hold, Reduce Portion Size, Use Alternative Cuts, Change Trim Specs and Buy More & Decrease Deliveries.

Train your culinary staff to segregate cuts where they can best be utilized. Buedel also offers free trainings and consultations. We help staff members evaluate their options and educate them on alternative cuts, different trim spec options, and how to apply them to a variety of menu applications.

Be collaborative with your suppliers. Openly and honestly discuss win-win scenarios with them to find best solutions. In doing so, you will likely benefit over the long term and keep from paying more.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Dollars & Cents vs. Dollars & Sense

Let’s compare and contrast two stories in the recent news about pork production.  One is a story of dollars and cents, and one is a story of dollars and sense.

Dollars & Cents

3D chrome Dollar symbolLast September, Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer sold itself to the Chinese for $4.7B. Smithfield raises about 15M pigs per year producing over 6B pounds of pork sold under popular brand names including Farmland, Armour, Cook’s Ham, Krakus Ham, Patrick Cudahy and John Morrell. When the sale to Chinese went through, Smithfield’s CEO stated: “This is a great transaction for all Smithfield stakeholders, as well as for American farmers and U.S. agriculture. The partnership is all about growth, and about doing more business at home and abroad. It will remain business as usual — only better — at Smithfield.”

‘Business as usual’ is a telling comment. Smithfield is notorious for factory farming; incorporating the use of inhumane gestation crates, confined animal feeding operations and environmental pollution.

To quell some of the220px-Gestation_crates_3 negative press, Smithfield is “recommending that its contract growers phase out the practice of keeping female hogs in small metal crates while pregnant.” This is quite the bold move for a factory farmer where disease, pollution and animal confinement are standard practice.

On 1/21/14 more news broke: Problems Persist After Smithfield Sells Out to Shuanghui; Future Remains Uncertain.  The Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation and Waterkeeper Alliance issued a Notice of Intent to sue the current and former owners and operators of a Smithfield owned feeding operation, located in North Carolina, to stop pollution caused by illegal waste disposal.

Dollars & Sense

Ironically, one day earlier, the NY Times posted this story: Demand Grows for Hogs That Are Raised Humanely Outdoors.

Consumer awareness and c7960787444_a1b4b8476d_ooncern about the use of antibiotics, humane animal treatment and the environment is growing. More chefs and restaurateurs are featuring pasture raised, all natural pork on their menus. The popularity of “farm-to-fork” and “nose-to-tail dishes” is growing.

Opposite to the Smithfield mass production model, pigs raised by family farmers who use sustainable production methods which preserve the land and its resources for future generations, is fast becoming en vogue. The pigs are happy, the farmers are happy, and consumers are happy eating a better product.

pigsinsnow-300x224Pigs raised outdoors using traditional farming and animal husbandry methods cost more because it costs more to raise them this way.  However, the Times article also points out that as much as consumers say they want their meat to come from humanely raised animals, they still resist paying higher prices for pasture-raised pork.

This resistance is what continues to drive companies like Smithfield to keep producing cheap pork, and the consequences that go along with it.

Finding Middle Ground

The situation becomes one of trade-offs. Which is worse: Paying less for cheap pork thereby supporting the issues associated with pervasive factory farming, or paying more for pork thereby supporting the issues associated with humane, natural and sustainable farming? In my opinion, one will never fully replace the other, but both can improve.

As a consumer, I prefeMenusr to spend a little more to eat healthier and better tasting naturally raised pork. I also feel good that a by-product of my preference, is supporting the family farmer.

On the other side of the fence, I see the daily dilemma Buedel Fine Meats customers face between their desire to avoid offering commodity pork and trying to manage their food costs. Many chefs and restaurateurs are simply unable to absorb the higher cost of all natural pasture raised pork and maintain their desired profits.  They too are voting with their dollars.

Perhaps there is a middle ground.

A movement to change the status quo can be ignited by slowly adding pasture raised pork items to meals and menus. Start with one or two items, promote them and educate the consumer on the value. My guess is that a few will stick, and then maybe a few more.

If we all do this, we can begin to deliver a subtle message to the Smithfield’s of the world in a language they understand – money.  Soon they’ll listen because they have to return profits to their shareholders.  When the factory farmers see more dollars being spent for pasture raised pork, they’ll want to capture some of the growing segment – then someday perhaps, most of it, and we’ll all be better off.

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Wild Boar: A Unique & Delicious All Natural Meat

Wild Boar DishesWho isn’t looking for new menu ideas? How about one that’s unique, incredibly tasty, all natural, free range, humanely handled, lean and reasonably priced? Plus, how would you feel if adding this food to your menu could also ultimately help the environment?

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Well, it’s not, when you get to know more about Wild Boar.

Boar 101

The most common names for boar are Wild Boar, Wild Hog, Feral Pig, Feral Hog, Old World Swine, Razorback, Eurasian Wild Boar and Russian Wild Boar. Unlike domestic pork, wild boar is a bit sweeter with notes of nuttiness and a clean taste that’s neither gamey nor greasy. They are leaner than pork with one-third less fat, calories and cholesterol.

Wild boar grow to about 5 feet long and weigh up to 300 lbs. – smaller and leaner than farm raised hogs for pork production. Their diet includes acorns, hickory nuts, pecans, grass, roots, apples and just about any farmed crop they can invade. It is their diet, which gives their meat a unique flavor profile.

In Europe and Asia, boar is farmed for their meat and treasured for their taste. Called, “Sanglier”, in French, and “Cinghiale”, in Italian, boar can be commonly found in butcher shops and offered as a staple in restaurants. Boar is one of the highest priced meats in Germany and thought of as an aphrodisiac in China.

Texas Wild BoarHogs, wild or otherwise, are not native to the United States. They were first brought to the new world by Christopher Columbus who introduced them to the Caribbean.  Hernando De Soto brought them to Florida in the 1500’s, and they made their way across the Southern United States.

Early Texan settlers let pigs roam free until needed – some were never recovered. During wars and economic downturns, many settlers abandoned their homesteads and the pigs were left to fend for themselves. In the 1930s, Eurasian wild boars were brought to Texas and released for hunting. They bred with the free-ranging domestic animals adapted to the wild.

An Invasive Species

Today, most domestic wild boar, are feral hogs, which can rapidly increase their population. Sows can have up to 10 offspring per litter and are able to have two litters per year. Each piglet reaches sexual maturity at 6 months of age. They have virtually no natural predators and thrive in just about any condition.

With a population in the millions in the U.S., Wild Feral Hogs are wreaking havoc across the Southern states. Traveling alone or in packs, they devour whole fields of rice, wheat and/or vegetables. Corn Farmers have discovered that the hogs methodically trod their planted rows during the night, extracting seeds one by one – they even go after food set out for livestock.  The hogs also erode the soil and disrupt native vegetation when they tromp the ground; this also makes it easy for invasive plants to take hold.

Wild Boar TrapFree Range, All Natural & Humane

Wild Boar is a free range animal. No gestation crates, no antibiotics, no growth hormones  –  the ultimate humanely raised all natural meat.

Most domestic wild boar come from Texas where state laws require they must be taken alive and humanely handled for harvest purposes. Hunters are allowed to kill wild hogs year-round without limits. Hunters also have the option of live capture for transport to slaughterhouses to be processed and sold to grocers, butcher shops and restaurants as exotic meat.  When sold commercially as meat, wild hogs must be taken alive to one of nearly 100 statewide buying stations.

One method of capture, popularized by the A&E reality television series American Hoggers, uses trained dogs to sniff out the wild boars, chase them down and hold them by their ears. Trappers then tie them up and cart them off to holding pens for transport.

Where the reality show makes for good TV, the preferred method for capture is a lot less exciting.  Trappers simply bait a cage or a large fenced area with food attractive to the wild hogs, such as fermented corn, but not to other animals. The trapdoor is left open for several days until the hogs become comfortable with it enough to walk in and eat; the trap door then closes.

From the buying stations, the trapped hogs are taken to a processing plant overseen by USDA Inspectors and Veterinarians.  Processing includes a testing regimen for e-Coli, Salmonella, and Trichinae.  Food safety is paramount and supported by a Letter of Guarantee.

Wild Boar NutritionA Healthy Alternative Protein

Compared to pork, Wild Boar is lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and higher in protein – higher in protein than pork, beef, lamb and chicken, to be exact.

Wild boar comes in the same type of cuts as pork and can be substituted for pork in like dishes.  It can be smoked, barbecued, grilled, roasted, braised, fried and, marinated.  Ground Wild Boar is also popular in Italian Bolognaise.

The Food Network offers a variety of Wild Boar recipe ideas for menu inspiration. You can find the most popular Wild Boar cuts available at Buedel Fine Meats:

  • Tenderloin
  • Frenched 10 Rib Rack
  • Saddles
  • Strip Loin
  • Legs – bone in
  • Legs – boneless
  • Shoulder
  • Bellies
  • Shanks
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • St. Louis Ribs
  • Trimmings

Adding Wild Boar to your menu gives you something unique to offer your guests with the benefits of all natural, free range and humanely handled marketing. You can help the environment, offer a healthy protein and provide a delicious feature with Wild Boar. Try it!

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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5 Ideas to Spark Fall Menus

Braised Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank

Who doesn’t love Fall? The weather is still enjoyable, football is back, and the leaves will soon turn those gorgeous red, purple and orange colors – it is my favorite time of year.

The seasonal change from warm days to chilly nights also signals the introduction of fall menus for chefs and restaurateurs.

September opens the door to robust dishes and heartier meats; wild game and duck are also now in season.

Here are some inspiring ideas for  building Fall menus using a variety of meat selections and slower cooking methods:

Shanks a lot!

Shanks are terrific for braising. They are fattier with more connective tissue rich with collagen that along with the bone adds fabulous flavor when cooked. Shanks are also relatively inexpensive. Lamb, Pork, and Veal Shanks make excellent braising choices.  

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

We recommend using Domestic Colorado lamb shanks, though Australian and New Zealand lamb will work too. Compared to imported lamb, which is typically grass fed, American lamb has grain in its diet and tastes less “gamey”. Domestic lamb is larger in size and presents beautifully on the plate; many say it is the highest in quality and consistency.

For pork shanks with a little something special, try the Duroc breed hogs. This breed produces well marbled very tasty meat and competitively compares with higher priced Berkshire or Kurobuta pork.  

When it comes to Veal shanks, Domestic No. 1 Special Fed veal is our favorite. These calves are raised on a milk formula supplement. Their meat color is ivory or creamy pink, with a firm, fine, and velvety appearance superbly tender and delicious.

Other Cuts

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Bone-In Beef Short Ribs can be braised whole, or portion cut in a variety of ways, from traditional 3-bone short ribs to Tomahawk Cut single or double bone-in short ribs. Boneless short ribs can also be rolled & tied before braising for a unique plate presentation.

Shoulder Cuts of all types are also perfect for braising. Lamb, Pork, and Veal shoulder cuts are typically favored for stew dishes.  

Cheek Meat has become quite popular in trendy restaurants and bistros. Beef, pork, and veal cheeks are rich with flavor and suitable for producing smaller portions. Ox Tails are also excellent for braising.

Rotisserie Raves

Rotisserie cooking allows you to cook whole pieces of meat, which can be used across multiple dishes on your menu. This maximizes your yield, saves labor and leverages your food cost.

The best candidates for rotisserie cooking are Lamb Leg, Lamb Rack, Lamb Top Round, Veal Shoulder Pork Rack and Pork Loin. Chicken, Duck, and Cornish Hens are also traditional rotisserie favorites.

Get Your Game On

Venison 8 Rib Rack

Venison 8 Rib Rack

Game meats have also risen in popularity in recent years. Known to be highly flavorful, some of these meats also have lower fat content.

Elk, Venison, Bison, Rabbit and Duck all make great game for fall menus. Elk and Venison racks lend themselves well to a variety of recipes. Bison flanks and chuck rolls are excellent for hearty pot roast. Rabbit can be stewed or braised in a number of ways, and Duck is always a traditional favorite.

Recipe Starters

To help get your creative juices flowing, check out some of these fab Fall recipes for ideas:

Savuer – 25 Recipes for Braised Meats

Recipes from Chef Hans Susser: Roast Pork Butt, Braised Veggies, Pork Jus & Applesauce  Braised Oxtail & Potato Dumplings  Braised Beef Ribs In Red Wine

Recipes from Chef Danilo Alfaro:  Veal Shank Osso Buco  Braised Lamb Shoulder  Braised Chicken Stew

Happy Fall!

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

 

 

 

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Antibiotics & Pork Production

antibiotics-for-agricultureLast week news broke on China’s pending acquisition of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. The United States pork industry harvests slightly over 100 million pigs annually, about 59 pounds per capita in pork consumption. Smithfield produces about 26 million pigs per year, over 20% of the U.S. total harvest. China’s pork industry consumes over 700 million pigs annually, about 80 pounds per capita in pork consumption.

More than 700,000 tons of pork are imported to China per year to keep up with its growing demand. The billion+ Chinese population has an insatiable appetite for pork, so much so it was announced last week that a meat company in China is willing to pay $4.7 billion for Smithfield Foods. Though Smithfield already exports to China, the acquirer will likely increase pork production volumes to help secure the food supply.

Antibiotics manufacturers may be the most happy about the acquisition because 80% of the antibiotics manufactured are used on livestock and China uses four times the amount of veterinary antibiotics than the United States.   

The Evolution of Antibiotics in Production

The discovery of antibiotics by Sir Alexander Fleming in the late 1920’s transformed medicine and changed the world in remarkable ways. Fleming’s discovery ultimately became Penicillin, the antibiotic that saved lives by curing bacterial infections. It was mass produced during World War II for therapeutic use to treat our troops and became known as “The Wonder Drug” in medicine. Medical scientists continued research, and the 1940’s discovered other naturally occurring antibiotics such as Tetracycline could be used therapeutically to cure infection.

In the late 1940’s, the poultry industry discovered that feeding the fermentation byproducts of Tetracycline antibiotics to chickens improved their growth – thus began the “sub therapeutic” use of antibiotics: purposely adding low levels of antibiotics as growth promoters to increase yield. 

The U.S. post World War II economic boom brought about industrial farming. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) were built to mass produce chicken and pork. Smithfield Foods operates Concentrated Animal Fecafoeding Operations (CAFOs) to mass produce pork.

CAFOs house thousands of animals confined in pens where they are mass fed to fatten them up as quickly as possible. Pigs are crammed into giant buildings in stalls so small they can’t turn around. Unable to express their natural behavior in these stalls, their muscles become weak. Pigs’ immune systems in these overpopulated environments are so weakened that disease and infection spread rapidly amongst them.

The sub therapeutic use of antibiotics in CAFOs serves a dual purpose: Accelerating animal growth and staving off the increased propensity for disease and infection. This type of antibiotic administration in low doses also facilitates the rapid evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Some bacteria develop mutations that make them immune to the same drugs meant to kill them.  

An example of this type of mutation is MRSA ST398, a potentially deadly form of MRSA that has jumped from farm animals to humans. This strain has developed resistance to modern drugs while living in farm animals reared with antibiotics.  It has now leapt back from the farm animals to people and is resistant to common antibiotic drugs used to treat MRSA. 

This strain, sometimes called pig MRSA, has been detected in 47% of the meat samples in the U.S. across pigs, turkeys, cattle, and other livestock. A study published in 2011 by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGRI) showed that MRSA was finding its way into our meats. Researchers analyzed 136 samples of beef, poultry and pork from 36 supermarkets in California, Illinois, Florida, Arizona and Washington, D.C. Nearly one-quarter of the samples tested positive for MRSA. TGRI’s Dr. Paul Keim cautions, “It is our inappropriate use of antibiotics that is now coming back to haunt us.”

The overuse of sub therapeutic antibiotics also causes concern for drug residues that leach into our food supply. These residues can cause an allergic reaction and promote resistant strains of bacteria in our bodies. 

Antibiotic Manufacturers

Drug companies continually work to develop new antibiotics to kill new strains of bacteria such as pig MRSA that become immune to the previous antibiotic meant to kill them. That means big money for the drug manufacturers when a new drug is developed and approved for sale. It is also important to note there are no legal limitations in place policing the amount of antibiotics given to animals.  Eli Lilly’s Elanco Animal Health unit is one of the leading producers of medicated feed additives and represented nearly one-tenth of the company’s $22.6 billion in revenues in 2012.

China’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods may bring even more substantial money for drug companies. The Smithfield acquisition portends to increase their pork production, and that means more CAFOs to produce more pigs. More CAFOs means more pigs and more antibiotic purchase orders. This stands to reason why the drug companies may be the most happy about China’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods.

Antibiotic Free Pork

Buyers who want to avoid pork raised with antibiotics need to gain a clear understanding of label jargon and USDA guidelines. One term that often causes confusion is the word “Natural”. The USDA’s definition of Natural is:

A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”).

The USDA approved use of Natural on the label does not speak to the exclusion of administered antibiotics. An example of this can be found on the label of Smithfield All Natural Fresh Pork: Product of the USA; No added steroids or hormones; No artificial ingredients or preservatives; USDA Process Verified.

Smithfield’s claims for its All Natural Fresh Pork is void of key claims such as “raised without antibiotics”, or “never administered antibiotics”, but does include “no artificial ingredients” as required by the USDA guidelines. It is also important to note that “hormones” by law, are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry! Producers will often add such jargon to make their products appear better wherever possible.

For those interested in a finely defined natural product that is, in fact, free of antibiotics there are stricter label definitions. Highly defined all Natural meats usually come with one or more of the following package statements: Never Administered Antibiotics; Raised Without Antibiotics, and when applicable, Raised Without Added Hormones. Products with these highly defined claims on their labels confirm that the animals were never administered antibiotics or growth hormones to accelerate weight gain and speed to market during their lifetime.

Look for companies like Niman Ranch who prohibit the use of antibiotics and CAFOs in their hog raising protocols, which they make common public knowledge. For more resources, check our complete line of antibiotic free meats.

Sources used:

http://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Antibiotic_Use_for_Farm_Animals

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-antibiotics-residue-20130526,0,4432412.story

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0530-china-food-20130530,0,7044429.story

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/02/11/chinas-overuse-of-antibiotics-in-livestock-may-threaten-human-health

http://books.google.com/books?id=OIwNri9k3vgC&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=tetracycline+fermentation+byproducts&source=bl&ots=FEsPKhSkLk&sig=zXKmP7o19r7__4-Y_Q6571zLFXk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9QuqUfGGLqi7ywHw74HoAQ&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=tetracycline%20fermentation%20byproducts&f=false

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/02/11/chinas-overuse-of-antibiotics-in-livestock-may-threaten-human-health

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/science/drug-proof-pig-mrsa-makes-leap-736987

http://www.choicesmagazine.org/2003-3/2003-3-01.pdf

__________________________________________________________________________

From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine MeatsFacebook  Buedel Fan Page 

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Ribs 101 for Summer Grilling

The summer grilling season is fast approaching and for those of us who live in four season climates, reuniting with our backyard barbeques is an annual rite of spring. Whether you grill year round or not, no matter how you fire it up, it’s that first grill of the season that rejuvenates our fervor for outdoor cooking.

Pork Rib Diagram v4Soon we’ll start seeing ads for ribs – Baby Back, Spare, St. Louis, Country Style, Tips, Roasts and Chops – a wealth of options to grill and prepare. Here’s a quick 101 primer for

distinguishing between rib varieties and some tips on the best ways to grill ribs this season.

Hog Anatomy

We’re all familiar with the term “Rib Cage”, where there is an arrangement of long bones that surround the chest to protect internal organs. Long rib bones start from the top of animals by the spine and extend downward with a curved shape towards the belly.  These are the ribs butchers break down for consumption.

BabyBackRibsBaby Back Ribs   The most popular of all pork ribs, Baby Backs are the most lean and tender.  These types of ribs are located at the top part of the rib bone that is connected to the spine (backbone), just below the loin muscle.  The name “Baby” is derived from the fact they are shorter than spare ribs, and “Back”, because they are nearest the backbone.

Butchers make Baby Back Ribs by cutting them where the longest bone is, around 6″ from the spine.  The meat on top of the bones is tender and delicious.  Depending on how they are butchered, Baby Back Rib racks weigh about 1.75-2.5 lbs and will normally have between 10-13 bones per rack.  Baby Backs  can be grilled, barbecued, roasted and smoked. They are typical to the northern region of the U.S. and  Canada.

SpareRib 416Spare Ribs  The Spare Rib starts from the end of Baby Back Ribs and extends to the end of the rib bone.  Spare Ribs are bigger with more meat between the bones than the top of the bones and are a little tougher and fatter, but much richer in flavor.  Spare Ribs average 10-13 bones per rack weighing between 2.5 – 3.5 lbs. They can also be grilled, barbecued, roasted and smoked.

St. Louis Ribs  This style of ribs was popularized in the 1930’s – 1960’s by butchers in the St. Louis area who wanted a better rib cut than they were receiving from big meat packers at the time.  St. Louis Ribs, or St. Louis Style Ribs are actually Spare Ribs with the rib tips cut off where a lot of cartilage and gristle exists with very little meat.  “Pork Ribs, St. Louis Style” officially became an official USDA cut standard NAMP/IMPSStLouisRib416a #416A in the 1980’s. Spare Ribs and St. Louis Style Spare Ribs are found on grills and smokers in the southern states of the U.S.

Rib Tips   Rib Tips are found at the end tips of the rib bone. They are the by-products of St. Louis Ribs where butchers cut the tips off the end of the ribs into strips with a saw. Even with little meat and a lot of cartilage and gristle, Tips are rich in flavor due to the presence of bone and higher fat content.  People generally either love them or hate them.

CountryStyleCountry-Style Ribs   You may be surprised to know that Country-style Ribs are not cut from the rib cage but from the front end of where the Baby Back Ribs are near the shoulder blade.  They are the meatiest variety of ribs and are perfect for those who prefer to use a knife and fork rather than eating with their hands.

Rib Chops & Roasts  Rib bones are also used in other types of butcher cuts.  Rib Chops are produced where the loin meat is kept attached to the bone and portion cut into a chop.  The end of the rib bone can also be exposed to create a “French Cut” Rib Chop.  A Crown Roast is created when instead of cutting the loin into chops, it’s formed into a circle and tied to look like a crown.  Crown style roasts are  seasonal holiday favorites.

Beef, Lamb & Veal Ribs

The anatomy of pork, beef, lamb and veal is pretty much the same.  Beef ribs are typically produced as Beef Back Ribs, Beef Short Ribs and Beef Rib Chops – aka bone-in rib eye steak.  Denver Ribs are like St. Louis pork ribs but cut from lamb.

A set of five or more ribs together is known as a “rack”; veal and lamb ribs are sold as ‘racks’. Lamb and veal racks are typically roasted whole or cut between the rib bones into chops.

Top Grilling Tips

Regardless of the species, ribs are full of flavor and can be prepared in any number of ways.  You can be creative with different rubs, sauces and marinades, to grill, roast, smoke or braise a variety of rib dishes.  Our Corporate Chef, Russ Kramer, shares his top grill tips below:

Tip #1 – Cook to Perfection

There are a few methods to prepare pork ribs for the summer. Your number one goal should be to serve ribs that have a tender bite off the bone but never where the meat falls off the bone. Ribs that fall off the bone will do you in at competition BBQ s!

Tip #2 – Use Rubs

Rib rubs differ from steak rubs because they are generally sweeter; steak rubs are more savory. As a general guideline, use a Paprika base with spices such as, garlic, onion, cinnamon, clove and dry mustard. (For sweet, I use turbinado sugar.) Herbs are best left for steak rubs.

Generously sprinkle your favorite rib rub a good hour before cooking to let the flavors work into the meat. Be creative and experiment with your different combinations of spice and sweet until you find your favorite.

Tip #3 – Cooking Method

Over medium heat, grill the slabs until they are seared and caramelized, then switch to the indirect heat method and slowly finish cooking. This can take about 3 hours to get the nice bite off the bone. Then sauce them at the end.

Extra Tip  Use a spray bottle with some apple juice in it and spray the ribs every 30 minutes to help keep them moist.

Tip #4 – Smoke Ribs (Competition Style)

Stoke the fire using lump charcoal and fruit wood such as apple. The fruit woods work well with pork since their smoke profile tends to be milder than a hickory or mesquite. Pork, being a lighter meat works best with a milder smoke.

Generously sprinkle your favorite rib rub a good hour before cooking to let the flavors work into the meat. You can also rub on some yellow mustard for a tangy flavor.

Maintain the smoker temperature at 250 degrees. Place ribs in the smoker and slow smoke for 4 hours spraying them down every 30 to 40 minutes with the apple juice infused with a bit of apple cider vinegar.

Foil the slabs after 4 hours by wrapping each slab individually in foil. In the foil pouch, add brown sugar and/or honey, some butter and a little apple juice to help steam the ribs a bit while in the smoker for the final time.

Let them cook for an hour and check for doneness. You will see the bones exposed a bit at the bottom of the slab – that’s a good sign. Remember that ‘tender bite off the bone’ is what you are looking for.

Once the ribs have cooked to perfection, pull the slabs from the foil and brush with your favorite sauce. Return to the smoker for about 10 minutes more to glaze the sauce.

Whether you use the traditional grill or the wood smoked method, have a fantastic grilling season!

From the desk of John Cecala  Twitter @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook  Fan Page

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Cheat Sheet for Meat

In case you missed it, there was an article in the Business Section of the Trib recently entitled, “Meat Industry Takes Knife to Names” by P.J. Huffstutter. The gist of the piece talks about how the pork and beef industries are working to rename over 350 meat cut monikers, “…to give them more sizzle”.

BostonRoastTo give you a feel for how this will play out, the pork butt, for example – which really comes from the shoulder of the animal not the back side – will now be called a “Boston Roast”.  The idea is that consumers will feel better about purchasing and serving Boston Roast vs. Pork Butt.  When you look at it like that, butt for dinner is not such a glamorous thing.

There are many nicknames already used by meat purveyors, chefs and restaurateurs in the food service industry for the different cuts of meat.  What’s most interesting is consumers are already highly familiar with a lot of them.

What’s in a Name?

Steak cuts such as, Delmonico, New York Strip and Porterhouse came by their names based on the popularity of where they were served.  A porterhouse was the name for a bar and steak house popular in the mid to late 1800’s. Legend has it that when the owner of a particular Manhattan porterhouse started serving rather large T-bone steaks, they became known as the now ubiquitous Porterhouse Steak. 

Contemporary names for meat come from a variety of resources. A recent example of this occurred when research teams at the Universities of Nebraska and Florida were looking for a new value cut from the top blade of the shoulder.The resulting value cut was shaped like an old flat iron and thus given the name Flat Iron Steak. TGI Friday’s first popularized the Flat Iron Steak and it is seen on numerous menus today. The meat industry continually looks for ways to merchandise new cuts of meat. 

Meat Lingo

When I first came into to the meat business, I quickly realized I had to learn a new language – the language of meat. One of the best things I did was attend the North American Meat Association (NAMA) Center of the Plate Training  where I learned the scientific names of each muscle, where on the animal it came from and what its common nickname was.  As I started working with restaurateurs and chefs, I soon learned another whole set of nicknames for the same cuts of meat. It was confusing at times, to say the least.

The language of meat became tacit knowledge being immersed in the business on a daily basis and I soon found myself unconsciously speaking it to my customers and colleagues.  Ironically, due to the volume and duality of meat names, confusion prevailed both internally and externally.  Ultimately, we developed a “Cheat Sheet for Meat” for the language of meat to train employees and help consumers better understand meat cuts and decode meat industry buzzwords.

BeefCutMapBiggerWhile certainly not exhaustive, below are the most common terms used in the language of meat and what they mean. For additional detail check the Meat Buyer’s Guide available in print and online. View a complete Cheat Sheet for Meat here.

 

 

POPULAR BEEF NICKNAMES
NAME DEFINITION
Ball-Tip Steak Boneless steak cut from the bottom sirloin muscle known as the ball tip / Lower cost value cut
Baseball cut butt steak Boneless top sirloin steak cut filet style / Rich and flavorful, looks like a tenderloin filet at a lower cost
Bavette Steak Name commonly used for steaks cut from sirloin flap meat  
Boston Cut Strip Steak Boneless New York Strip steak cut in half across the width  
Butcher’s Steak Another name for hanging tender steak, or hanger steaks
Club Steak Cut from the beef short loin nearest the rib / Triangular L shaped like a T-Bone steak but without the tenderloin
Cowboy Steak Bone-in Rib-eye steak with meat cut off at top end of the bone leaving about 1” exposed bone for presentation
Cube Steak Cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, fiercely tenderized by pounding with a meat or electric tenderizer 
Delmonico Steak Boneless Rib-eye steak with no tail fat
Filet (Tenderloin Filet) Commonly used term for a boneless steak cut from the tenderloin muscle
Flank Steak Boneless steak cut from the abdominal muscle which is called the flank
Flat Iron Steak Steak cut from the shoulder top blade muscle located inside the clod or shoulder / Tender value cut
Hanger Steak Steak cut from the hanging tender in the diaphragm of the animal / Commonly called Onglet Steak in French bistros
Kansas City Strip Bone-in Strip steak cut from the short loin
London Broil Variety of thinly sliced beef cuts, usually boneless, for broiling / Suggested cuts: top butt cap, flank, and top round
NY Strip Steak Boneless steak cut from the strip loin muscle
Onglet Steak Another name for a Hanger Steak
Petite Filet Medallion Common name given to a boneless cut from the teres major muscle in the shoulder
Porterhouse Steak Bone-in steak cut from short loin; similar to T-bone / One side is tenderloin at least 1.25″ wide; one side strip loin
Ranch Steak Boneless steak cut from beef shoulder chuck / Technical name: boneless chuck shoulder center cut steak / Value cut
Rib-Eye Steak Cut from the animal’s rib portion / Rib-eye steaks can be boneless or bone-in
Sizzler Steak Name commonly used for boneless ball-tip steaks
Skirt Steak Boneless steak cut from whole skirt muscle / Can be inside or outside skirt
Sirloin Flap Cut from the bottom sirloin just above the flank and right next to the short loin  
T-Bone Steak Bone-in steak cut from short loin similar to a Porterhouse / One side tenderloin at least .5″ wide; one side strip loin
Tomahawk Steak Name for bone-in rib-eye steak with long portion of rib bone attached and exposed for dramatic plate presentation
Top Butt Steak Boneless steak cut from top sirloin muscle, rich and flavorful / Not the actual “butt” of the animal
Tri-Tip Steak Boneless steak cut from tri-tip muscle, part of the bottom sirloin
Vein Steak Hip end of sirloin strip or short loin; shows piece of connective tissue around loin eye / Value cut from end of strip loin
POPULAR TRIM SPECIFICATIONS FOR STEAKS & CHOPS
NAME DEFINITION
Backstrap Elastin type connective tissue found in neck, blade, rib and loin / Usually removed before steaking or roasting strip loin
BRT “Boned, Rolled & Tied” / Bone is removed; meat is rolled and tied (netted) / Usual specification for boneless lamb legs  
Chine Bone Part of the backbone that remains after a carcass is split / Chine bones should be removed from beef roasts to cut through the roast prior to or after cooking
Denuded Meat cuts that have had all surface fat removed
French Cut Bone-in steaks (or chops) with meat trimmed from the bone to expose it / Like the “cowboy steak”
Lollipop Cut Bone-in steak (or lamb/pork chop) with bone trimmed down to eye of the loin / Bone is exposed further than French or Cowboy style making it look like  a “lollipop”
Mouse or Rat Muscle Small muscle part of the whole top sirloin (top butt) / Can be left on or taken off with cutting steaks
Peeled Same as Denuded; meat cuts that have had all surface fat removed
Pinned (Needled) Tenderizing process involving penetration of muscles by steel blades
Silver Skin Thin film of soft connective tissue on beef tenderloin / Can be left on or removed when cutting steaks
Tail Fat Small part of fat attached to cut of steak / Typically 1” or 2” on Strip Steaks and Rib-Eyes
POPULAR WHOLE MUSCLE NICKNAMES
NAME DEFINITION
Ball Tip Boneless sub primal found in Bottom Butt / Can be roasted or cut for “Sizzler” steaks
Bottom Butt (Bottom Sirloin) Boneless sub primal below Top Butt; includes Tri-Tip and Ball Tip cuts 
Bottom Round Bone-in sub primal from beef round or back leg of steer / Also called a “Gooseneck Round”
Chuck Bone-in or boneless containing neck, shoulder blade and upper arm / Tougher cut good for roasting and ground beef
Chuck Roll Boneless cut from the whole beef chuck
Clod Heart Flavorful less tender cut from heart of beef shoulder / Clod roast is an economical cut for roasting or grinding 
Coulotte Triangular shaped muscle beneath the surface of whole top butt muscle / Very rich in flavor, great for roasting or steaks
Export Rib Bone-in whole Rib-eye primal cut / Used for roasting or cutting into bone-in rib-eye steaks
Gooseneck (Round) Bone-in sub primal that comes from beef round or back leg of steer / Also called “Bottom Round”
Inside Round Bone-in sub primal that comes from the beef round or back leg of the steer / Also called “Top Round”
Knuckle Very lean part of the sirloin; also known as “Sirloin Tip” / Commonly used for roasts and ground beef
Lipon Rib-Eye Boneless rib section; sub primal / Used for prime rib and boneless rib-eye steaks
PSMO Peeled beef tenderloin; side muscle on / Common sub primal cut used for roasting or cutting into tenderloin filets
Short Loin Bone-in sub primal from back of the steer / Contains part of the spine and includes the strip loin and tenderloin
Strip Loin 0x1 Boneless sub primal cut without tail fat on one end and 1″ tail fat on the other / Used for roasting or cutting strip steaks
Strip Loin 1×1 Boneless sub primal cut with 1″ tail fat across the loin / Used for roasting or cutting strip steaks
Top Butt (Top Sirloin) Boneless sub primal below tenderloin between short loin and round / Used for roasting or cutting steaks rich with flavor
Top Round Bone-in sub primal from the beef round or back leg of steer / Also called “Inside Round”
Tri-Tip Boneless sub primal found in Bottom Butt / Great for roasting or cutting into Tri-Tip Steaks

When names like Boston Butt start popping up in our local meat cases people will ask “what’s that?”  The store managers will explain, meat companies will keep marketing it, restaurants will soon follow and before you know it, we will all be using these new names. 

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From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page 

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‘Tis the Season to be Braising

When the weather begins turning colder, at least here in the Midwest, we stow away our back yard barbeque grills before winter rolls in. It’s a change that signifies many things – warmer clothes, winter sports and the start of Braising Season!

Professional Chefs already know the culinary delights of braising meats. Here’s a primer for the rest of us, and some potential new ideas for your menu.

The  4-1-1

Braising is a slow cooking method that combines moisture and heat to break down connective tissue and collagen which makes the meat soft and tender. When combined with your favorite mixture of stock, spices and rubs, the end result is a delicious hearty meal that will warm up your winter. Braised meats are comfort food.

Any type of meat can be braised: beef, pork, veal and lamb – even poultry can be braised. Meat is best braised with tougher and bone-in cuts.

Rule of thumb: Fattier is better for braising, where leaner is worse. If a cut is served as a steak on the menu, it’s probably not the best meat for braising.

Best Cuts to Braise

The best cuts for braising are the locomotive muscles from the animal; they are the muscles that are most moved by the animal.  Think: Shoulder, Tail, Cheeks, Ribs (Short), Shank, Feet. These muscles are fattier with more connective tissue that is rich in collagen. When slowly cooked to about 185°F, the intramuscular fat and collagen break down and melt, tenderizing the meat and making it more flavorful and juicy.

The best cuts for braising are:

Beef – Chuck, Brisket, Top Round Roast, Bottom Round Roast, Short Ribs, Cheeks, Shanks (Osso Bucco), Ox Tails

Veal – Shanks (Osso Bucco), Neck, Chuck (shoulder), Round, Short Ribs, Breast

Pork – Blade Roast, Picnic Roast, Shanks, Cheeks

Lamb – Shanks, Shoulder, Arm, Chuck

Cost Wise & Plate Beautiful

Braised meats are also an economical menu choice. They are typically indicative to less costly cuts, yet plate rich and hearty – the perfect marriage. Go for the “wow” factor and try having your bone-in meats “French Cut” to expose the bone; the affect makes for a beautiful plate presentation.

My favorite cuts for braising are beef short ribs. Buedel Fine Meats fabricates a variety of beef short ribs from traditional 3-bone short ribs to Tomahawk Cut single or double bone-in short ribs. Boneless short ribs can also be rolled & tied before braising for a unique plate presentation.

Enjoy the Braising Season, before you know it we’ll be breaking out the grills again.

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What’s Your Beef? | How to Combat the Rising Fallout Cost of Drought

Higher food prices are now predicted from a perfect storm of conditions due to this year’s drought. Recent accounts report there hasn’t been a drought as strong since the 1950’s. Now is the time to reflect upon your purchase strategy.

Trickle Down Affects

The corn and soy bean crops suffered severely from the drought driving up their prices. Higher feed prices mean higher costs to feed livestock forcing feed lots to push through animals faster. At the same time new cattle on feed is 19% lower than last year which means there will be less beef supply down the road.

The reduced corn and soy harvest will also affect the dairy, pork and poultry markets which also rely on these crops for feed. The USDA predicts food prices to rise by as much as 4% by the end of the year.

The Laws of Supply and Demand will also contribute to the situation. If demand remains steady [most likely, it will] or increases, higher food prices will result.

Go On the Offense

What can you do to combat higher prices when it comes to beef and pork? Here are some of our prime suggestions:

  • Lock-in current prices with your supplier. Commit your weekly volume to your supplier now and lock-in a price or, “not to exceed” price.

If your supplier knows your volume and has your commitment to purchase they can plan ahead for your needs. Having a predictable committed customer is a value to your supplier that helps them with their planning. For the operator, having a locked-in food cost allows you to lock-in your margins and menu prices.

  • If you can use frozen product, purchase a percentage of your forecasted volume now and freeze it. Today’s prices are hedge against higher future prices. Your frozen hedge can dollar cost average down your overall spend.
  • Take advantage of value cuts which you can offer on your menu at a lower price, yet deliver the same or higher margins for your operation. An example of these would be hanger steaks, bistro steaks and double bone pork chops.
  • Consider purchasing All Natural products such as Niman Ranch or Tallgrass Beef, which ride their own market for pricing and tend to be more price stable than the commodity market.

…and one more savings tip from our resident Chef, Russ Kramer:

One way to save and still keep product quality intact can be to do some portion size adjustments as a means of saving center of the plate cost. For example, by reducing the portion by 1 ounce from an item that costs $25.00 per lb, it will save them $1.56 in the plate cost. Slight specification adjustments can help save money as well.

Plan now. The best defense really is a good offense – even with meat!

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From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Meat Picks | 9.27.12

Ambience Award

Mon Ami Gabi, Shaw’s Crab House LEYE restaurants, Macy’s Walnut Room and The Pump Room are just some of the restaurants that made the Chicago Eater list of “Chicago’s Most Iconic Dining Rooms” this week. Shots of all the (gorgeous) dining rooms here.

Pork Report

Early this week the Trib posted an article about a pork and bacon shortage which seems to be happening  in Europe. Fortunately, reports for the U.S. pork market were just the opposite.

Pork production soared in August as more animals were brought to market totaling 2 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.94 million head, up 4 percent from August 2011. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 269 pounds.

There is no doubt however, the impact of our drought will be felt by the commodity pork industry which will face higher costs for feed that will be passed on to the consumer at some point.

Responsible producers like Niman Ranch, who practice sustainable farming, tend to ride their own market albeit at prices typically higher than the commodity pork market.  We may in fact see supply and prices from these types of “boutique” producers remain steady.

New Merlot in Town

A third Chicago area Eddie Merlot’s (the first in Burr Ridge and second in Warrenville) is tentatively set to open next week in Lincolnshire.  For those unfamiliar with this restaurant group, they aim for the “WOW factor” – delivering one-of-a-kind service.

Last July Eddie Merlot’s took a booth at the Taste of Lincolnshire and received close to 1,000 new email subscribers as a result, according to the local press. How many restaurants enjoy that kind of pre-opening interest months in advance?

The Lincolnshire location is set to open at 4 p.m. daily in the lounge; dining room hours begin at 5. Special holiday season lunch hours are currently being planned. For more info, check out Merlot’s blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

P.S.

Both routes (Knife and Fork) of the Wicker Park Bucktown Dinner Crawl are sold out! There is a waiting list you can try your luck with by emailing your name, phone number and route choice to: Info@WickerParkBucktown.com

 

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From the desk of John Cecala   Twitter @BuedelFineMeats   Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Farm to Fork | One Part Food, Two Parts Community

Farm to Fork, (aka Farm to Table) is one of the hottest trends around. What makes this food movement so trés chic is its passionate attachment to community.

Rutgers defines Farm to Fork as a “community food system” in which:  food production, processing, distribution and consumption are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place.

One of the success leaders in Farm to Fork integration is the Niman Ranch. A network of over 700 independent farmers and ranchers, Niman members adhere to strict guidelines and quality standards set forth by their organized leadership and followed within each of their own communities.

The Niman Experience

Earlier this month, the Niman “Annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner” was hosted by Paul Willis. Willis, who started the hog farming network in 1995 with Bill Niman, holds the annual event at his Iowa farm (Niman Ranch #1) to pay homage to hog farmers, promote industry awareness and raise money for agricultural education.

To date, more than $140,000 in scholarships has been awarded by the Niman “Next Generation Scholarship Fund” to rural students wishing to study sustainable and environmental practices.

Niman started the education fund in 2006 with the help of industry partners and supporters. Chipolte Mexican Grill, Whole Foods and Buedel Fine Meats, among other food vendors and purveyors, contributed to this year’s scholarship distributions.

Chefs from around the country also participate every year by donating their time and talents to creating incredible fresh harvest and pork rich meals throughout the weekend festivities.

Commitment Personified

Now in its 14th year, the annual event has become an industry poster child for Farm to Fork learning. Having personally attended the ‘Appreciation Dinner’ last year, I’ve seen firsthand how Niman Ranch farmers embody a Farm to Fork community. Several Buedel team members made the pilgrimage to Iowa this year and came back more than overwhelmed by the experience:

The dedication of the [farm] families was amazing – they all have the same ideology. We have never seen the type of passion these people have for what they do, from generation to generation. They told us, “We know we’re doing the right thing”. When you think about it, people want to do the right thing, and to be honest, factory farmers, just don’t express these types of sentiments simply because even if they wanted to, they can’t.

Farm to Fork is sustainability – ethical treatment of the land, animals and workers, profitability and community development. It is a working partnership of agricultural and food system practices.

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From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Makes Meat Natural?

Many consumers assume that when a meat label says “Natural”, it is better for you, better for the environment and that the animals involved were raised without growth hormones or antibiotics in their natural environments.  However this is not necessarily always the case.  Many national brands loosely use the term “Natural” on their products without any of the above attributes being met – and it is perfectly legal to do so.

The USDA provides clear and specific definitions for “Natural” and “Organic” product labeling. It is important to understand that foods which meet USDA organic certification are authorized to use the “USDA Organic” seal, which has the word ‘organic’ on it. “Natural” labeling requirements per the USDA are quite different.

What the USDA Means by Natural

The definition of “Natural” according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, the agency responsible for ensuring truthfulness and accuracy in labeling of meat and poultry products is as follows:

NATURAL  A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means the product is processed in a manner which does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”).

Food labeling can be ambiguous and tough to digest at times (pardon the pun). The easiest way to grasp a firm comprehension for industry terms is to connect the dots between definition and application.

The USDA definition of Natural for fresh meats, such as beef, pork, veal and lamb, means the meat is processed (harvested at the packing plant) without using food additives during processing such as: flavor enhancers, food colorings, binders, nitrites, phosphates, and the like.  Again: USDA Natural means that meat was harvested at a packaging plant without using food additives.

Fresh meat packing plants that harvest beef, pork, veal or lamb and fabricate them into sub primal cuts for retail and food service, do so without fundamentally altering the meat with artificial ingredients or added colorings – this is standard practice today.

Technically then, meat packers can label many of their brands Natural and many do. This is evidenced by the plethora of brand names in the market today making natural claims on their labels poised with pictures and stories of beautiful farms and green pastures making you feel warm and fuzzy about the product you’re purchasing.

What You Expect from Natural …is probably missing

The USDA’s definition of “Natural” does not speak to the exclusion of growth hormones and antibiotics, or humane animal treatment or sustainable farming practices. But that’s what most consumers, Restaurateurs and Chefs are looking for when they want truly “Natural” meats.

How to Find the Natural You (Really) Want

For those looking for a more complete natural product, there are stricter label definitions for “Natural”  to keep watch for. Highly defined all Natural meats usually come with one or more of the following package statements:

Never/Ever Growth Hormones or Antibiotics  Animals raised in this program were never, ever, given growth hormones to accelerate weight gain and speed to market, nor were the animals given antibiotics during their lifetime. These animals are raised on an all natural 100% vegetarian diet up to harvest.

Humanely Raised  Animals are raised outdoors in open pastures where they are free to roam with plenty of access to food and water.  As compared to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, “CAFOs”, where animals are raised in confined indoor industrial farming pens.

Sustainably Raised  These animals are raised in harmony with farming practices that preserve the land and water for future generations such as seasonal crop rotation and fewer animals per acre.  (The Chipolte restaurant chain presented an excellent illustration of sustainable practice in their last Super Bowl commercial.)

Quality, Cost & Satisfaction

One of the easiest ways to shop for high quality Natural meats is to become familiar with the brands which produce at this level.  Niman Ranch and Tallgrass Beef  are two industry leaders who employ the stricter definition of Natural. These types of brands do cost more than commodity meats and those brands claiming the lesser USDA definition of “Natural” on their label because it costs more to raise the animals these ways.

There is a growing trend for “Farm to Fork” foods and meats.  To make sure your values and needs are being met when choosing “Natural” meats, match your desires to the appropriate label definitions.

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From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

 

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Duroc: A Red Pig You Should Know

When choosing pork, how much do you consider the breed? There are a variety of popular pork breeds such as: Birkshire, Chester White, Hampshire, Landrace, Jersey Red, Yorkshire and Duroc.

Since 1987 pork as been nationally promoted as “The Other White Meat” to increase consumer demand and dispel the notion of pork as an unhealthy fatty protein. The campaign was quite successful in educating the consumer about the leanness of pork but it left the impression that raw pork should be white. The fact is, all pork ends up white after it is cooked. However, in its raw state, many believe that “Redder is Better” when selecting pork.

There are certain pork breeds that have a more reddish raw pork color. The pork from these breeds is typically juicier, more tender, more marbled and has a higher pH than whitish colored raw pork. These characteristics make for a superior pork eating experience.

A lot of culinary attention is given to the Birkshire breed (Black Pig) or its Japanese version, Kurobuta, because of its deeper raw color, rich marbling, natural juiciness and flavor.

A lesser famed breed, called Duroc (Red Pig), is bright reddish pink in raw color and is also rich in marbling delivering a tender, juicy flavorful dining experience. Durocs are red pigs with drooping ears. They are the second most recorded breed of swine in the United States today, and a major breed in many other countries.

Duroc Boar

A Little Duroc History

It’s believed that Christopher Columbus brought red hogs to America on his second voyage and Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto, brought red hogs to this country in the 1500’s. The red hogs were presumed to have come from Spain and Portugal originally and remained here to proliferate in population.

In 1823, a man named Isaac Frink, of Saratoga County, New York, purchased a red boar from Harry Kelsey out of a litter of ten pigs whose parents were believed to be imported from England. Kelsey owned a famous trotting stallion named “Duroc” and Frink named his red boar “Duroc” in honor of the horse.

This red boar became known for his smoothness and carcass quality. Its offspring,  similar in red color and stature, continued the Duroc name. Beginning in the early 1860’s, Duroc breeding programs were refined producing a moderate hog that was well suited for the finishing abilities of the Corn-belt farmer.

During the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Durocs gained wide popularity at the first successful Duroc Hog Show. This was the beginning of the Durocs popularity and industry breeding which continues today. the price of Duroc pork is reasonable and usually falls in between low end commodity pork and higher end Birkshire pork.

Give Duroc pork a try for something special at a reasonable price.

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From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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