Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How-to: Beef Jerky at Home.

There are a few different cuts of meat you can use for Jerky but I use Eye of Round. It is one of the leanest muscles
on the steer and has a nice shape when cut. You want to use the learner cuts of beef because any fat will go
rancid sooner than the meat will and the name of the game with jerky is shelf-life. If done properly, beef jerky can be stored for months in a simple plastic bag.

You'll also need Kosher salt, Chipotle chilis packed in Adobo, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder (I did all this prep-work early in the morning, so I needed some coffee, too). 

Use about a half a can of the chipotles, chopped fine. Mix in ~TBLS of Garlic Powder, ~TBLS Onion Powder and
~2 ounces Salt. Mix the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. 

This guy weighs about two and a half pounds. To make cutting uniform
medallions, freeze the meat for an hour or so. 

Trim away all excess fat. 

Cut the roast into medallions about 1/8-1/4" thick, try to be as
uniform as possible. 

Mise en Place.

Transfer meat and chipotle paste in a large enough bag to hold comfortably.  Manipulate
the bag until the meat is coated evenly.

Here's the fun part... It's August in Texas. It's hot. Hot enough during the day to make a proper batch
of beef jerky without any other heat source (I noticed one day that my grill was hovering around 150F during the day).
In the off-set smoke box on my grill I had a small bed of coals going for the first few hours - just enough to make wood chips smoke. This picture was taken around 7:30PM. 

This is what the jerky looked like at 7;30AM the following morning. I had been tending the coal/smoke situation for most of the evening and into the night. I flipped the meat a couple of times when the temperature was high. 

Here's the bagged-up Jerky after I took it off the grill at around 8:00PM. 

All in all, this process took 2 days. Each of the steps are incredibly simple and the result is fantastic! Never again will I buy store-bought Jerky. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brief Interviews with a Meat Cutter.

So this is a pair of practice interviews recorded during a media training class. These are not professional interviews, intended to learn from. The class was a great experience and I was thrilled that they sent me the tapes! These are unedited videos and I certainly make some mistakes and say "umm" a lot, but I though I'd share anyway - I was able to talk about things I'm passionate about and it's great that I get to share.. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dry Aged Bone In Tenderloin.

I have to say, Bone In Tenderloins are one of my favorite steaks to cut-especially Dry Aged. Dry Aged meat is special and the practice is old school. Before refrigeration, steers were usually slaughtered in the fall and the untrimmed sides were hung in caves or cellars; slightly humid with lower ambient temperatures. In the right environment, moisture evaporates from the beef leaving a more enhanced and distinct beef flavor. Aside from the the difference in flavor, the connective tissues in the meat begin to break down leaving a more tender cut. 

Now that we are fortunate enough to have coolers and humidity systems to dial in the right environment, we can choose the exact cuts/primals we want to age. At the shop I work at, we age three different primals on a semi-regular basis: 107's / 3x3's, Shortloin's, and Top Butts. 

107 and 3x3 are different ways you can order the rib primal. Each are cut to a different specifications at the slaughterhouse, but both result in Rib-eye roasts. This primal section starts at the Chuck and ends at the Shortloin. 

The Shortloin is home to two major muscles and the makings of a third. The Striploin is a boneless NY Strip roast, whole and untrimmed. The Tenderloin is the most tender muscle on the steer, both raw and cooked. The third muscle on this primal starts out as a small oval on a Porterhouse-side NY Strip and actually turns into the Top Butt / Top Sirloin. 

Lastly, the Top Butt. Once cut, these are called Top Sirloins - the last of the luxury cuts. I consider a Top Sirloin to be the workingman's steak. A nice-sized Top Sirloin will easily be two pounds, able to feed 3-4 people.

This is a Shortloin. This one had been aged for 14 days.

Any time I'm going to cut into an aged primal, I trim away some of the bulk fat to clean the piece up.

This is the top side of the piece, NY on top, Tenderloin on bottom. There are a few ways to do this
step, but in essence, the goal is to make a clean cut against the bone to begin to free the Striploin from the Bone In Tenderloin. 

It is a priority to get as close to the bone as possible, leaving all the meat intact, but boning out beef is notoriously hard
on an knife's edge so I wont use my sharpest knife for a few of these steps. 

Usually while cutting one of these, I'll stand the primal up vertically and cut down into the spine using the tip of my knife as a fulcrum. In a few revolutions, this step will be complete with less effort and stress on your hands. 

Once you've made it all the way across the spine, you'll start working in and around the plate-bones and 'buttons'.
I'm going to go ahead and promise that if you ever cut one of these, your hands will hurt afterwards. You'll be doing a  huge amount of pulling as well as fine, sturdy manipulation with your knife. 

Looks like I'm about two vertebrates in, at this point I am still using a 6" knife. Take baby steps with the bone structure closest to the spine, here is where you'll find the highest concentration of bone. The plates separating the Striploin and Tenderloin are fairly flat and require less knife-work.

Once I have most of the spine-work down, I'll use my 8" Breaking knife to take deeper cuts to free the meat from the plates. 

Though you can't see it clearly in this picture,  most of the meat can now be considered boneless. Approximately 3/4 the the Striploin has been freed. 

Flip the primal over to remove the Tenderloin. While peeling the roast back, use the tip of your knife to separate the two roasts. 

On the left is an unfinished masterpiece, on the right is a Boneless Striploin. Once cut and trimmed, you should be able to get 12 decent NY Strips. 

Cadillac on the left, Limousine on the right. 

Chine the Tenderloin Roast as you would anything else. These steaks will be single-vertebrate steaks, after you chine these the steaks are cut by hand. There's no reason to take a Tenderloin and cut it with a saw unless you're cutting T-bones.

Firm-up the Tenderloin and clear a path on the plates so that you can buzz them off without hitting any meat. 

Cut between the vertebrates to get 3 Large steaks and one fair-sized steak. In my opinion, this is the hardest cut to master and one of the more dangerous. Wear a cut-resistant glove and have fun!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boneless Beef Tenderloin. The Video Breakdown.

So this will kind of highlight meat cutting in real time. I'm cutting a beef tenderloin purveyed by Premium Natural Beef , who have just become the newest addition to the Whole Foods Market family. The beef they've been sending us is of superior quality; the marbeling is excellent and the sizing of the muscles is near perfect.

Hope you enjoy the video and as always, thank you for visiting my blog!