Smoking 101: To wrap or not to wrap

October 5, 2015
Hey Everyone, 

Last time in Smoking 101 we discussed charcoal vs. lump coal and wood. You can check out the last post to catch up if you'd like. And if you have any questions that go beyond what I discussed so far feel free to email me and we'll see if we can't have a FAQ on Smoking in a couple weeks. 

This week I'll discuss wrapping your smoking product. There is only one instance that I don't wrap what I'm smoking. Here's why.... 

After about a couple hours the meat begins to be cooked on the exterior surface. At this point no more smoke will be permitted to get in the meat. This is especially true of the bigger meat items like Boston Butts (pork shoulder) and beef Briskets. So the advantage to wrapping (especially these bigger cuts of meat) is to reduce moisture loss. Wrapping will help you have a constantly moist and tender product. If you don't wrap you will run a bigger risk of losing all the moisture to the heat of the smoke. Some of the professionals will say you shouldn't wrap. That's fine but the cook time will have to be less so you don't have a super dry product. Some avoid this by marinating. Marinating is great but don't let the idea of extra moisture fool you. The product will still dry out if left on the smoker for an extended period.

So about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours I wrap most of my smoked items. I use aluminum foil and will wrap the product so it will not loose any more moisture/tenderness. Alright, when is the one time I don't wrap? When I want a brisket with a chunky crispy bark. Bark on a brisket is when a rub is applied thickly to the point that in the smoking process the rub and first layer of meat dry out and become crispy. In this process you need to make sure you add a fairly good amount of rub or else the rub and first layer will not crisp and thus will not protect the rest of the meat from drying out.

Some call wrapping the "Texas Crutch" but I say it just makes sense. You don't get an overly acidic smokey flavor on the exterior; and you get a constantly moist and tender smoke that leaves you wanting more.

Until next time, Good Smokin'!
The Ogeechee Butcher 
 

Smoking 101

September 15, 2015
Smoking Time is upon us. The weather is cooler and there will be some less humid days which means it is a great time to smoke. Smoking is an art that is easily mastered and I'll walk you through it in this series of blog posts. 

Today, we will start with some theory. Which is better: charcoal, lump coal or wood? 
The easy answer is stay away from charcoal. The manufacturing process of charcoal is essentially like cooking your meat with gasoline. This is true not just when you use lighter fluid but anytime. The chemical release acts more to over power the steaks natural and seasoned flavor rather than accent it. 

Lump coal is actually petrified wood so it does not have all the chemical no-no's that charcoal has. Besides being a natural product lump coal also has a more even burn. And if you use the larger chunks they will burn longer. Wood can actually be used with the lump coal (just soak some wood chunks or logs in water and then add them on top of the lump coal. That way the lump coal does the cooking and wood does the flavoring.) It is more proper to start the charcoal or wood in a chimney. This way the coals are ready to cook with when they reach the smoker/grill. Also the initial black smoke release will not be on your meat. Just some smooth flavoring heat will hit your perfected steak recipe. 

If you have more questions look out for the up coming posts and always feel free to ask in person when your in the shop! Until next time, everyone. Happy Smokin'!  

 

Summer Grilling Tips

June 24, 2014
It is officially summer! Which means you are going to be breaking out the grills (if you haven't already). So we thought it would be time to break out some tips to make your grilling time memorable for the right reasons.

Tip 1: Start off on a Clean grill. While this seems like a simple idea but this is more important than you'd think. Removing the remnants and charred leftovers will help avoid flare ups which will cause over cooking. Remnants will also affect flavoring.

Tip 2: For easier clean up, use non stick spray or even better olive oil on the grill before cooking so that you wont have build up in the first place and your steak wont stick to the grill.

Tip 3: Don't press or puncture the meat (especially burgers). When you press or puncture the meat it releases the juices that are created when the meat is cooking. These juices are what keeps the meat moist and tender.

Tip 4: Let your steak/meat sit out about ten to twenty minutes before you slap it on the grill. Depending on the shape of the steak or burger and how cold it is this may cause the steak to cook unevenly. We don't want your sides of the steak to burn while the middle is rare.

Tip 5: Let it rest. Take your meat off the grill right before it is done because the meat will still cook after it is taken off. Allowing the steak to rest gives it time to absorb all the juices and for the cooking process to stop.

Tip 6: If your using charcoal avoid lighter fluid. Lighter fluid is a form of gasoline and leaves a residue after ignited. This residue still gives off chemicals. Don't eat gasoline flavored Steaks. Use a chimney lighter they are relatively cheap and work very well.

Tip 7: Beware the "enhanced" meat. Some meat companies are offering a meat (mainly pork and chicken) that is labeled "enhance", "always tender", and "solution added". Besides these companies charging you for salt water in your meat these solutions affect the taste, texture, and cooking. The companies add the solutions for the weight and in an effort to make cooking "fool proof". Enhanced and solution added are no nos for any great cook.

Grilling is a great way to cook and if you know a couple tricks you can take your grilling to the next level. Feel free to ask for any help next time your in the shop or to call if you have any questions. We are always glad to help. Until next time, Good Grillin'!

The Ogeechee Meat Market Butcher
 

The times of our lives

May 6, 2014
Well friends there is a lot of things going on in the world of meat. Unfortunately, right now it seems to be negative news for everyone. The unavoidable is prices will go up. We've already seen this in beef. The rough winter weather took a toll on the country's main beef producing areas. The weather's extra pressure on the market along with the cattle numbers being the lowest they've been since the 1950's added to us seeing record prices for beef in the last couple months. Luckily, the beef prices have leveled off and in some cases gone down slightly. But right after that perfect storm beef is looking to go up again as demand goes up for grilling season. Ground beef will be the first as we hit Memorial Day and the cook outs that come with but the steaks will follow.

On the other counter, we see another tragedy shaping up. Pigs have been fighting a battle that has taken some of the young as collateral. The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, a highly contagious pig disease, is taking a toll on numbers. The younger pigs find it hard to beat the disease and the writing is on the wall. With the diminished numbers of younger pigs we are seeing a slow rise in pork costs that is only going to be the worst at the end of summer when these little piggies are meant for market. The bad thing is that they have not been able to beat the virus yet. So there is no telling when prices will relieve.

So as if that's not bad enough the market pressures move from the beef and pork to chicken. Chicken is going to see a price increase as demand continues to move from pork and beef. Chicken has actually surpassed beef in sales for the first time in decades.

So your saying... "thanks for depressing me. What can I do?" Well, remember that prices may rise and fall as we go through the rest of the year but there are ways to save. So here's a couple of things:

1. Don't sacrifice quality. Even with prices going up the cost between a lower quality and a higher quality will be minimal or even shrink. If your going to eat it don't sacrifice the quality.

2. Try to buy in bulk, especially now before the prices go back up. Half cows, quarter cows and half/whole pigs are available for purchase to save dollars per pound. Also try package deals to get more for the money.

3. Don't panic. Shop smart. If you shop smart and cook smart you can weather this with no problem. Buy bargain cuts that are cheaper but offer more for the buck. Use meats that can produce more than one meal.

4. Use a trusted butcher. They can help you know the proper cooking techniques for each cut of meat. Also a butcher can help you substitute cheaper meats in certain meals as well as offer different ways to prepare anything you may want to use.

Even with the news being a little on the bad side, the truth is that as the pork and beef numbers go up we will be seeing some price decreases. Hopefully we will see the numbers come back down as the weather changes. And hopefully we will have something to be very thankful for when we sit down for a Thanksgiving feast.

As always feel free to email me or call if you have any questions.

 And Good grillin'!
The Ogeechee Meat Market Butcher
 

Power Outages and Food Safety.

January 29, 2014
Hey everyone,

I hope everyone is safe and warm tonight. As the threat of bad weather threatens, I thought it maybe a good time to ease some minds of those of you that are worried about loosing power. So here's the skinny on refrigerators and freezers as they relate to food safety.

The problem temperature is 40 degrees F. Meat and most foods can not be considered safe after being at or over 40 degrees more than 2 hours. So a refrigerator is normally okay for four hours with the door remaining closed. When the power comes back on check the internal temperature and more important check the temperature of the items in the fridge. If the temperatures are good and they are cool to the touch then they may still be okay. Now if the temp is not so good should everything be thrown away? NO, the more perishable (meat, eggs, milk) should be checked for color change, odor and other freshness factors but things like hard cheeses, fruits, fruit juices, and butter/margarine should be okay. For a more in-depth overview of items check out this chart: http\/www.foodsafety.gov/refrigeratorchart

What about your freezer? As a rule of thumb, a relatively full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours (2 days!) if unopened or about 24 hours if it is half or less full. The frozen items act like an igloo or additional ice to each other retaining cooler temperature. Even if most items thaw they can be refrozen if they stay out of the 40 degree point. A quick guide for the items that maybe in your freezer can be found on here: http//www.foodsafety.gov/freezerchart.
A good way to know if everything is okay once the power is back on is to check for the coolness of the meat and also for any ice crystals that remain. Ice crystals are sure signs of everything being safe and okay for refreezing.

So, here's my advise for a power outage regarding your families meat:
4. Leave fridge and freezer closed as much as possible.
3. Check the temperature or for coolness before throwing away.
2. If you know that the power is going to be off for an extended time you can buy ice/dry ice to extend the life of your fridge/freezer items.

The Number 1 tip: Hey, its really cold outside. Put your perishables in the garage or on the porch, out of the sun, to keep them at a safe temperature. Be safe and until next time...

Great grillin',
The Ogeechee Meat Market Butcher
 
 

How the flat iron steak got its name.

February 26, 2013
How the flat iron steak got its name.
Hey everyone! Well this steak's name is fairly simple to explain but its history is interesting. This steak has begun to gain quite a fallowing here in the US lately. So much so that you can now find it in some major steak house restaurants. But over a decade ago this piece of meat was considered a "junk" or grind piece. (This means it was cut off and considered trimmings that would become ground meat.) But years ago many research dollars were spent to find "new" cuts that could help boost sales on pieces of meat that could turn a new and bigger profit.

It seems they found their answer in the shoulder of the cow. The shoulder is two primal cuts. (The chuck and shoulder) And smack dab in the middle of them is a flap of meat the until now was only considered grind material. So the professors at the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida thought this piece was it and all they needed was a name. The name they decided on what they thought the steak resembled... an old fashioned flat iron. And thus a cut is born and a cut doubles in price.

Interestingly, you can get this cut in England (a butcher's steak) and in Australia (an oyster blade steak) so it must be catching on. So until next time...

Good grillin'
The Ogeechee Butcher 
 

Turkey Tips

November 22, 2012
 Hey Everyone,

We at Ogeechee would just like to take a second and wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and to thank you for using us as your family's meat supplier. Next, I would like to pass along some tips for the big day next week:

ROASTING INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAFETY AND DONENESS:

1. Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F. Preheating is not necessary.

2. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Which is no problem if you bought one of our fresh never frozen no antibiotics no presevative birds. Times are based on fresh or completely thawed frozen birds at a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below.

3. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.

Optional steps:

  • Tuck wing tips back under shoulders of bird (called "akimbo").
  • Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan.
  • In the beginning, a tent of aluminum foil may be placed loosely over the breast of the turkey for the first 1 to 1 1/2 hours, then removed for browning. Or, a tent of foil may be placed over the turkey after the turkey has reached the desired golden brown.

4. For safety and doneness, the internal temperature should be checked with a meat thermometer.

The temperature must reach 180 °F in the thigh of a whole turkey (center of the stuffing should reach 165 °F) before removing it from the oven. Cook a turkey breast to 170 °F.

5. Juices should be clear. In the absence of a meat thermometer, pierce an unstuffed turkey with a fork in several places; juices should be clear with no trace of pink.

6. Let the bird stand 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving. We have found that this little step goes a long way in reserving all the juices in the meat and stuffing.

APPROXIMATE COOKING TIMES

UNSTUFFED

  • 4 to 6 lb breast.....1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hrs
  • 6 to 8 lb breast...2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hrs
  • 8 to 12 lbs................2 3/4 to 3 hrs
  • 12 to 14 lbs..............3 to 3 3/4 hrs
  • 14 to 18 lbs........3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hrs
  • 18 to 20 lbs........4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hrs
  • 20 to 24 lbs..............4 1/2 to 5 hrs

STUFFED

  • 8 to 12 lbs...............3 to 3 1/2 hrs
  • 12 to 14 lbs..............3 1/2 to 4 hrs
  • 14 to 18 lbs..............4 to 4 1/4 hrs
  • 18 to 20 lbs........4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hrs
  • 20 to 24 lbs........4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hrs
And finally, just in case you need some help the day of our friends at butterball are on duty Thanksgiving Day: 1-800-BUTTERBALL

HAPPY THANKSGIVING and we'll see you in December for your Prime Rib Roasts, Turkey, and Crown Roast orders!
Good Grillin' everyone!

_the Ogeechee Meat Market Butcher.
 

The 7 bone Roast

August 27, 2012
We continue our series on cuts and how they got their name. Today is a discussion on the 7 bone Roast. Lets start with what the 7 bone roast is: The 7-bone roast is the bone in version of the Chuck Roast. The Chuck is the shoulder of the cow and is very well marbled. The chuck is excellent for the crock pot or slow cooker and is just as tasty as an oven pot roast. The Chuck is surely the king of beef roasts: easy to cook, moist and tender even at medium-well and versatile.
 
Back to the name. The bone in roast is is refereed to as a 7 bone because the bone located in it is a cross cut to form the roast and resembles a "7". The bone is also called an "h" bone by professionals because it actually resembles more of a lower case "h".

Interestingly, the bone is very similar to the "h" or "7" bone that is in the Boston butt roast. (we covered the Boston butt earlier in this series) The bone is the same because the Boston Butt is also the shoulder of the pig.

Sadly, the 7 bone roast is becoming scarce in markets. The size of the 7 bone is quite large and undesired by families these days. The good news is though that its taste and greatness lives on in its offspring the boneless chuck roast. If it has been a while since you've had one you should reconsider.

Until next time, good grillin'!

The Bucter



 

How the Swiss steak got its name.

August 2, 2012
Hey again everyone. Hope everyone is doing well. There are great things happening at the meat market. We have moved into our third week in our new improved facility and are loving the new look and extra space. If you haven't been in then you don't know what you are missing.

To the matter at hand. What is a true Swiss steak? They are the equal to a cubed steak actually. The "swiss" does not refer to Switzerland but rather the process the steak goes under. "Swissing" refers to the process fabrics are usually taken through of pounding, hammering, and ran through rollers to soften the fabric. In a similar procedure meat (usually a "tougher" meat like that from the round) is hammered or ran through blades to make the meat more tender. The process breaks down the fibers and tendons in the meat to make a more desirable textured and tender steak that is floured and cooked and then covered in gravy. So unlike Canadian bacon the Swiss steak has no immediate connection.

Well with that mystery in the bag, we look forward to seeing you at the market. And until next time good grillin'!

The Butcher. 
 

How Canadian Bacon got its name

June 12, 2012
Hey everyone, Sorry about the long time no see but we are looking at our final week in our expansion and will be opening our newly remodeled shop soon. Any way we are not here for that you want to know where some meats get their name and I am here to share.

You may know this "Canadian bacon" from your meat lover's pizza or from that McMuffin you indulge in every once in a while but what makes it Canadian? Contrary to belief the Canadians do not get credit for this one. (Sorry a'boot that guys.) Actually, originally in America we called the lean brined piece of meat back bacon. This brings up a subject worth an explanation.

What is brine? Brine is a specialized salt solution that meat is soaked in before cooking or most cases smoked. This salt solution is used to flavor the meat and also works as a way to fight bacteria growth during the smoking process. Think about a corned beef brisket and you have got the idea.

Back to the subject at hand. The specific piece used to make the Canadian bacon or back bacon is the pork tenderloin which is a much leaner piece from the pig than the more traditional side of pork. The pork tender loin comes from the back of the pig thus the back bacon name. We call it Canadian bacon because we Americans like to categorize things and because we like the fact that it really bothers our Canadian brethren. Europeans and our friends to the North rather like leaner bacon that derives from the loin and leaner part of the upper side. A lot of times Canadian Bacon is smoked in America and the Canadian counterpart is merely just brined,not smoked. So Canadian bacon is not as closely related to the bacon the Canadians eat. Sometimes the Peameal bacon is confused with Canadian Bacon but pea meal bacon (while similar in size and shape) is named for its exterior seasoning and "meal" that graces the outside.

Well, that gives you something else to think about. Talk to you soon when we explore some more meat names and until next time...

Good Grillin'

The Ogeechee Meat Market Butcher.
 

How to contact Me


The Ogeechee Butcher To ask a question E-mail: ogeecheemeats@gmail.com Please put ask-the-butcher in the subject line so it wont end up in the junk/spam box. You can also be my friend on Facebook and ask questions there.

About Me


I have been cutting meat for over 40 years. I have done everything from working for shopping chains to now owning my own shop. I am part of the last group that was tested to be a certified meat cutter; when butchers still broke down the meat they needed from sides and whole carcasses. I have a vast knowledge of the field and am happy to share.