Midwestern Meats

Grilling a Tri Tip Roast

  

  Sliced thin for fajitas or enjoyed by itself with a nice baked potato. The tri-tip roast holds its own as one of the most tasty and also under-appreciated cuts of beef.  The term “tri-tip” is derived from the fact that the tri-tip roast is triangular-shaped and it is the tip of the sirloin. So, if you have your cow map handy (who doesn’t?), then you know where this cut come from. Up until the 1950′s, this very lean cut of beef was typically made into ground beef. If not sliced thin against the grain, it can be quite chewy, so it was just easier to ground it up into burgers.  Our friends out in California are credited for changing all of that when the tri-tip roast itself became a local specialty in Santa Maria. They loved it so much that the tri-tip roast is still occasionally labeled the “Santa Maria Steak”

Although tri-tips soak up marinades like a sponge, I like to keep it simple most of the time and prepare a simple rub. In fact, I usually stick with the same method that made this cut so popular in Santa Maria. Tri-tips are great with  Brady's Spicy Meat Rub and then cooked slow over an indirect heat source. This simple rub allows for the taste of the tri-tip roast to shine through. It makes it so simple, a bottle of Brady's Rub and a piece of tri tip and your ready for a great meal.  

Ingredients

1 Tri-tip roast

1 Bottle of Brady's Spicy Meat Rub

Directions

  1. Rub a generous amount of Brady's Spicy Meat Rub over all of the surfaces of the tri-tip.
  2. Leave the rubbed-down roast on the counter at room temperature for about 45 minutes before cooking.  
  3. Light your grill and prepare for indirect grilling. This means lighting one side of the grill on high, while leaving the other side unlit. If you are using a charcoal grill, pile the coals to one side of the grill.
  4. Once the grill is hot and ready, place the tri-tip roast on the hot side and sear for a few minutes on each side. Our goal during the sear is to create a nice dark crust on the outside of the roast. The goal here is  to create some delicious caramelization out of the rub and surface juices of the tri-tip.
  5. After you have seared all sides of the roast and have the color you like on the outside, move the tri-tip over to the cool side of the grill and then close the lid.
  6. We are going to now roast the, well, roast on the cooler side of the grill, much like an oven. How long is it going to take?  The real answer is “it depends”, but a total time of 25 – 30 minutes for a smaller tri-tip is usually a good starting guess.  Each tri-tip roast and grill is different though, so you really need to use a meat thermometer to make sure the roast is cooked to perfection. To most, that means medium-rare, or around 130 degrees. We want to remove at 130 degrees, which will allow the temperature to rise about 5 degrees while we rest. If you have a remote probe thermometer, this is a perfect use for it, so that you don’t have to open the lid each time.
  7. Once the tri-tip roast has reached your desired doneness, remove it from the grill and let it rest on a platter for 10 minutes.
  8. Slice the roast against the grain for maximum tenderness.

There you have it, fool-proof tri-tip roast.  I’m sure once you try it for the first time, I’m betting you will wish you discovered this great cut of meat a long time ago.

Written by Rod McConnell — August 12, 2013

Grilling a Steak

This week we’ll keep focusing on grilling technique and walk step by step through making the perfect grilled steak.  You see, a lot of people really over think steaks.  I have had some really elaborately prepared beef jerky grilled by some great people with the best of intentions.  It’s often hard to sit back and watch the host destroy a perfectly good steak, but hey, it’s not my party.  I’ll do the next best thing and break down what I think are the simple steps to grilling the perfect steak.  In this case, I’m grilling sirloins (they were on sale!), but this technique is the same for all cuts of beef up to an inch thick.  Steaks over an inch thick will require a little more time to cook through, so adjust your times accordingly and remember to err on the side of rare (you can always throw it back on the grill, but you can’t reverse jerky!).  Enough intro, let’s get down to it…

Grilling the Perfect Steak, Step by Step

  1. Warm that steak up!  Let’s start with one of the most important steps in grilling steaks.  We want to grill our steaks quickly and evenly, so it is very important to let the steak come to room temperature before grilling.  Remove your steaks from the refrigerator and set them on the kitchen counter for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling.  Don’t leave it there too long though, that’s just gross, just get it to room temperature.
  2. Seasoning. There is no need to over-think seasoning.  Let that steak’s natural taste prevail!  I like to keep it simple and use a Midwestern Meats famous seasoning.  Season both sides of the meat, when you take it out of the fridge and let it sit.  Best of all, have the meatboys at the shop season it for you before they package it.  
  3. High heat. Now that the steak has warmed a bit and has been coated in Midwestern Meats seasoning, go ahead and light the grill on high.  Another important technigue in grilling steaks is to use high, direct heat and grill them quick!
  4. Lube up that grill! We don’t want our poor steaks to stick to that grill, right?  Using tongs, dip a folded up paper towel in some cooking oil and rub the grill grates to coat with the oil.
  5. Grill those steaks! We are now ready to grill the steaks.  Using tongs, place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill and don’t touch them for about 2 minutes.
  6. Grill marks are important. Why?  Because you want those steaks to look good right?  Pick your steaks up with the tongs and turn them 45 degrees and put them back on the grill to make those perfect grill marks.
  7. Flip the steaks as little as possible. When meat is cooking over a direct heat source like on the grill, the juices get pushed through the meat away from the heat source.  To grill a juicy steak, you want to disrupt the juices as little as possible, so that means flipping the steak as little as possible.  After a total of around 5 minutes on the first side, flip the steaks over using your tongs (never pierce the steaks with a fork!).
  8. Rotate again. After another 2 or 3 minutes on the other side, again rotate the steaks 45 degrees to create our grill marks on the other side.  Grill for an additional 3 – 4 minutes after rotating.
  9. Check to see if they are done. Be nice to your steak, don’t ever poke or cut it with a knife or fork to tell if it is done!  Using a little practice, you can feel your steaks to determine how done they are.  Remember, you can always throw an undercooked steak back on the grill but you can’t reverse beef jerky, so err on the side of undercooked.  Using your finger or your tongs, press on the top of your steak.  The more firm your steak feels, the more cooked it is.  If you leave a depression after you push on the steak, it’s pretty much rare in the middle.  It will take a few practice runs, but pretty soon you’ll be able to tell how cooked your steaks are just by touch.
  10. Let them rest! Once the steaks are grilled to your desired doneness, remove them and place them on a platter.  Now DON’T TOUCH those beautiful hunks of meat for 5 minutes.  Remember, the juices on the inside of the steak are going through a lot.  They need about 5 minutes to “calm down” and redistribute.  If you cut into it too soon, all of those juices will leak out.

See?   There is nothing to the perfect grilled steak.  Focus on technique, and let the natural flavor of the steak be the star of your grilling show. If you are looking for a great appetizer, grilled shrimp kabobs make a great tasting and quick cooking treat!

Grilled Steak tips  

Written by Rod McConnell — August 05, 2013

Beer Marinated Flank Steak

An excuse to buy a 6 pack and a steak? Count me in! Flank steak is an awesome cut of meat. I think it sometimes gets a bad rap because people don’t understand how to cut the meat. This cut of steak should always be sliced thin, against the grain, for optimal tenderness. Sliced correctly, it’s a very tender cut of meat. There also no better cut of meat for marinades, the possibilities are endless. I know, I know, wasting beer is a crime, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless it was totally worth it, so let’s get to it…

Ingredients:

Flank Steak

12 ounces of dark beer (I used Dos Equis Amber)

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 lime

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Kosher salt

Ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Learn how to pronounce Worcestershire (it’s worst-a-sure, not war-chester-shire). You’re welcome…
  2. Mix the beer, Worcestershire, the juice from one lime and cumin in a large bowl and combine thoroughly.
  3. Place the steak in a large Ziplock bag, pour in the marinade and place in the refrigerator. Marinate the steak for 4 hours (at least 2), turning the bag occasionally.
  4. Light the grill to high heat for direct grilling.
  5. Remove the steak from the marinade and sprinkle with a generous amount of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Flank steak cooks pretty quick, so don’t overcook it. Remember, you can always throw it back on the grill for a few minutes if it needs more time. As always, these times are approximate and it always depends on the thickness of the meat and the temperature of your grill.
  7. Place the flank steak over the hottest part of the grill and grill for about 4 – 6 minutes on each side for medium rare.
  8. Let the flank steak rest for about 5 minutes on the cutting board to let the juices settle in the meat.
  9. Slice thin, against the grain and serve with the left over beer!

Written by Rod McConnell — July 29, 2013

Beer Can Chicken

I can’t believe we haven’t posted this recipe before.  Beer can chicken is one of the most quintessential grilling recipes!  I’m not sure whether it’s how funny the chicken looks sitting upright on the grill or the fact that it really is a great way to grill a whole chicken, but it’s certainly a popular grill recipe.  The concept behind this recipe is that while the chicken slowly cooks on the outside over indirect heat, the steam from the beer helps cook the chicken from the inside to keep it juicy.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure the beer actually does anything but serve as a pedestal for the bird.  The beer left in the can hardly ever simmers when I am grilling a beer can chicken.  This is due to the fact that the heat is not directly under the can, so it never really seems to get quite hot enough to simmer and steam.  Nonetheless, it sure makes a great stool for the chicken and it looks pretty darn funny while it is grilling!

  

Beer Can Chicken

 

I prefer to rub the chicken first, simple as always using Midwestern Meats famous all purpose seasoning.  The smoke pouch in this recipe is optional, but in my opinion you should really use one when cooking something for a longer period of time, especially on a gas grill. Go to our How to: page to see how to make a smoke pouch.  Ok, let’s get started:

The Seasoning

Wash and pat dry the chicken, make sure you get it as dry as possible on the outside.  Use paper towels to dry the chicken, raw chicken juice hanging around on a dish towel is not a good thing! 

Simply coat the entire chicken with Midwestern seasoning about 2 hours prior to grilling.  Take your excess rub from your pan or dish and dump it in the beer can you will be using.  

Standing and Grilling a Beer Can Chicken

  1. Allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes while you prepare the grill and smoke pouch.
  2. Light the grill and set it up for indirect cooking. This means that you are going to light only a portion of the burners. For a 3 burner set up, light the outside 2 burners on high and leave the middle burner off. For a 4 burner set up, light the outside 2…you get the point.
  3. While the grill is heating up, create a smoke pouch. 
  4. Place the smoke pouch over on of the burners on high. Close the lid to the grill and allow the smoke pouch to heat up and start smoldering.
  5. While you are waiting for the grill to heat up, open a can of your favorite beer and drink HALF. (if you dumped our excess seasoning in it prior to drinking I would recommend a new beer.)  For heaven’s sake, don’t pour it out and waste it. If you don’t like beer, have someone else drink it!
  6. Now that we have our grill set up, a chicken that has warmed for 20 minutes on the counter and a smoldering smoke pouch, it’s time to stand that chicken up on the grill! I like to turn off the burners on the grill while I get the chicken situated. This is optional, but will probably make for a more comfortable experience.
  7. beer can chicken recipe
  8. Using a pair of good tongs, grasp the chicken firmly. You can also stick your fingers in the neck portion of the chicken to get a good grip. Regardless of how you grab the chicken, make sure you can control it so we don’t drop it during the standing process. Now hold the chicken upright with the drumsticks facing down.
  9. Here’s where this recipe gets it’s other name, beer butt chicken, slide your half of a beer up the chicken’s, um, bottom cavity.
  10. While holding the chicken and the beer can, slide the chicken onto the grill and position the drumsticks out in front of the now standing chicken. The drumsticks and beer can should act as a tripod for your beer can chicken.
  11. With your beer can chicken standing at attention, close the lid and you are done for at least an hour.  We want to cook the chicken at around 300 degrees, so I suggest placing an oven thermometer right next to the chicken (making sure it isn’t over the lit side of the grill) to monitor the temperature.  Tweak the two lit burners to maintain the proper temperature.  Remember not to leave the lid open too long while checking the temperature.  Each time you open the grill’s lid, you are letting out heat.  Even better than opening the lid, place the thermometer so you can see it though one of the holes and then you don’t even need to disturb the lid.
  12. After about an hour or an hour and 15 minutes, use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken.  Once the breast meat reaches around 165 degrees, the chicken is done.
  13. Carefully remove the chicken using a pair of tongs.  Use caution when tipping the chicken over onto a platter because the can may have some more beer left.
  14. Remove the beer can and let your chicken rest for around 10 minutes so that the juices can redistribute and then carve to serve!

So yes, beer can chicken is a funny looking way to cook a whole chicken.  Does the beer actually make the chicken more juicy than other grilled chicken recipes? I think it does.   It’s a great way to cook a chicken and it looks hilarious!

Written by Rod McConnell — July 22, 2013

Pork Steak recipe

Well, it's a simple as it gets, but the results are awesome.  Pork Steak is kind of a forgotten item for grilling as most people just don't think about this product.  The great thing is that it is a very economical item so making for a family is very cost efficient.  

 

Simply pre-season the steaks with Midwestern Meats seasoning about 2 hours prior to putting on the grill.  Let that seasoning work it's way into the fibers of the meat.  

Next put them on the grill, have a drink, and enjoy the backyard time.  I always lightly re-season the part of the steak that starts face down on the grill after the flip.   Do keep an eye on them as they can start small flame ups.  Should take about 10 minutes on a medium heat.  

 

Then simply enjoy the flavorful experience of Pork.

 

 

Written by Rod McConnell — July 15, 2013

Beef Grading

Beef Quality Grades

A quality grade is a composite evaluation of factors that affect palatability of meat (tenderness, juiciness, and flavor). These factors include carcass maturity, firmness, texture, and color of lean, and the amount and distribution of marbling within the lean. Beef carcass quality grading is based on (1) degree of marbling and (2) degree of maturity.

Marbling

Marbling (intramuscular fat) is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean. Graders evaluate the amount and distribution of marbling in the ribeye muscle at the cut surface after the carcass has been ribbed between the 12th and 13th ribs. Degree of marbling is the primary determination of quality grade.

Degrees of Marbling

Each degree of marbling is divided into 100 subunits. In general, however, marbling scores are discussed in tenths within each degree of marbling (e.g.,Slight 90, Small 00, Small 10).

Grade Marbling Score
Prime + Abundant 00-100
Prime ° Moderately Abundant 00-100
Prime - Slightly Abundant 00-100
Choice + Moderate 00-100
Choice ° Modest 00-100
Choice - Small 00-100
Select + Slight 50-100
Select - Slight 00-49
Standard + Traces 34-100
Standard ° Practically Devoid 67-100 to Traces 00-33
Standard - Practically Devoid 00-66

In addition to marbling, there are other ways to evaluate muscle for quality. Firmness of muscle is desirable, as is proper color and texture. Desirable ribeyes will exhibit an adequate amount of finely dispersed marbling in a firm, fine textured, bright, cherry-red colored lean. As an animal matures, the characteristics of muscle change, and muscle color becomes darker and muscle texture becomes coarser.

Maturity

Maturity refers to the physiological age of the animal rather than the chronological age. Because the chronological age is virtually never known, physiological maturity is used; and the indicators are bone characteristics, ossification of cartilage, color and texture of ribeye muscle. Cartilage becomes bone, lean color darkens and texture becomes coarser with increasing age. Cartilage and bone maturity receives more emphasis because lean color and texture can be affected by other postmortem factors.

Cartilage evaluated in determining beef carcass physiological maturity are those associated with the vertebrae of the backbone, except the cervical (neck). Thus the cartilage between and on the dorsal edges of the individual sacral and lumbar vertebrae as well as the cartilage located on the dorsal surface of the spinous processes of the thoracic vertebrae (buttons). Cartilage in all these areas are considered in arriving at the maturity group. The buttons are the most prominent, softest and least ossified in the younger carcasses. As maturity proceeds from A to E, progressively more and more ossification becomes evident. Ribs are quite round and red in A maturity carcasses, whereas E maturity carcasses have wide and flat ribs. Redness of the ribs gradually decreases with advancing age in C maturity, and they generally become white in color because they no longer manufacture red blood cells and remain white thereafter. Color and texture of the longissimus muscle are used to determine carcass maturity when these characteristics differ sufficiently from normal.

There is a posterior-anterior progression in maturity. Thus, ossification begins in the sacral region and with advancing age proceeds to the lumbar region and then even later it begins in the thoracic region (buttons) of the carcass. Because of this posterior-anterior progression of ossification, even young A maturity carcasses will have some ossification in the sacral cartilage.

In terms of chronological age, the buttons begin to ossify at 30 months of age. Determine age using thoracic buttons. When the percentage ossification of the cartilage reaches 10, 35, 70, and 90 percent, the maturity is B, C, D, and E, respectively.

Carcasses are stratified into five maturity groups, based on the estimated age of the live animal

Carcass maturity Approximate live age
A 9 – 30 mos.
B 30 – 42 mos.
C 42 – 72 mos.
D 72 – 96 mos.
E > 96 mos.

Skeletal Ossification

  • Sacral vertebrae (first to ossify)
  • Lumbar vertebrae
  • Thoracic vertebrae (buttons – last to ossify)
  • Size and shape of the rib bones
  • Condition of bones

 

Ossification of the vertebral column

 

  Maturity Group
Vertebrae A B C D E
Sacral Distinct separation Completely fused Completely fused Completely fused Completely fused
Lumbar No ossification Nearly completely ossified Completely ossified Completely ossified Completely ossified
Thoracic No ossification Some ossification Partially ossified Considerable ossification (outlines of buttons are still visible) Extensive ossification (outlines of buttons are barely visible)
Thoracic buttons 0-10% 10-35% 35-70% 70-90% >90%

Condition of the bodies of the split chine bones:

  • A- Red, porous and soft
  • B- Slightly red and slightly soft
  • C- Tinged with red, slightly hard
  • D- Rather white, moderately hard
  • E- White, nonporous, extremely hard

Appearance of the ribs:

  • A- Narrow and oval
  • B- Slightly wide and slightly flat
  • C- Slightly wide and moderately flat
  • D- Moderately wide and flat
  • E- Wide and flat

Lean Maturity:

Color and Texture – As maturity increases, lean becomes darker in color and coarser in texture

 

Lean Maturity Descriptions

 

Maturity Lean Color Lean Texture
A0 Light cherry-red Very fine
B0 Light cherry-red to slightly dark red Fine
C0 Moderately light red to moderately dark red Moderately fine
D0 Moderately dark red to dark red Slightly coarse
E0 Dark red to very dark red Coarse

Balancing lean maturity and bone maturity:

  1. Use a simple average when bone and lean maturities are within 40 units of each other.
  2. When there is more than 40 units difference in lean and bone maturity, average the two maturities and adjust the average 10% toward the bone except when:
Crossing the B/C line
  1. If the average of the lean and bone maturities doesn’t move across the B/C line from the bone maturity side (e.g., Bone = B and Lean = C with the average being B or Bone = C and Lean = B with the average being C); average the two maturities and adjust the average to the nearest 10% toward the bone.
  2. If the bone and lean maturities are not considerably different, but one is in B maturity and the other in C maturity and the average of the two moves across the B/C line from the bone maturity side, the overall maturity will be on the side of bone maturity — it will be either B-100 or C-00.
  3. In no case may overall maturity be more than one full maturity group different than bone maturity. A80 lean + D20 skeletal = C20 overall.

Determination of Final Quality Grade:

After the degree of maturity and marbling has been determined, these two factors are combined to arrive at the Final Quality Grade. The fundamentals involved in applying quality grades are learning the degrees of marbling in order from lowest to highest and minimum marbling degrees for each maturity group and understanding the relationship between marbling and maturity in each quality grade.

Step-Wise Procedure for Quality Grading Beef Carcasses

1. Determine carcass skeletal maturity by evaluating the degree of skeletal ossification in the top three thoracic vertebra (buttons), and the sacral and lumbar vertebra. Also evaluate the color and shape of the ribs. Determine lean maturity by evaluating the color and texture of the lean in the ribeye exposed between the 12th and 13th ribs.

 

Skeletal Maturity + Lean Maturity = Overall Maturity

 

A60 + A40 = A50 (Simple Average)

B60 + A80 = B30 (>40; 10% to bone)

C60 + B10 = C00 (B/C line)

D60 + B20 = C60 (<=100% from bone)

2. Evaluate the marbling in the ribeye and determine the marbling score.

 

Overall Maturity + Marbling Score = USDA Quality Grade

 

A70 + Sm40 = Ch-

B60 + Md40 = Cho

3. Determine lean firmness to ensure that the minimum degree of firmness specified for each maturity group is met.

Table illustrating the minimum marbling score requirements for USDA quality grades within each final maturity group

Final maturity score
USDA Quality Grade A00B00C00D00E00
Prime + AB00 AB00
Prime o MAB00 MAB00
Prime - SLAB00 SLAB00
Choice + MD00 MD00
Choice o MT00 MT00
Choice - SM00
Select + SL50
Select - SL00
Standard+ TR00 TR00
Standard- PD00 PD00
Commercial+ MD00 SLAB00 AB00
Commercialo MT00 MD00 SLAB00
Commercial- SM00 MT00 MD00
Utility+ SL00 SM00 MT00
Utilityo TR00 SL00 SM00
Utility- PD00 TR00 SL00

AB = Abundant; MAB = Moderately Abundant; SLAB = Slightly Abundant; MD = Moderate; MT = Modest; SM = Small; SL = Slight; TR = Traces; PD = Practically Devoid.
Carcasses with B, C, D, or E final maturity scores require an increasing amount of marbling as maturity increases to remain in the same quality grade.
Carcasses having B final maturity scores with Small and Slight marbling must grade U.S. Standard. There is no U.S. Select grade for B maturity carcasses.

 

Written by Rod McConnell — July 11, 2013

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