Owners/operators and pitmasters from some of the leading barbecue restaurants throughout Texas with a special guest, Jack Timmons, from Seattle, Washington, participated in the fourth Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting, which was held at the Kleberg Animal and Food Science Center and the Rosenthal Meat Center on Monday, December 11, 2017. About 50 people were in attendance, and participants received updates on livestock and meat markets for beef, pork, chicken, and turkey by David Anderson, professor and extension economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, brisket aging research by McKensie Harris, graduate teaching/research assistant in the Department of Animal Science, beef carcass grading by Davey Griffin, professor and extension meat specialist and Ray Riley, manager, Rosenthal Meat Center, and beef carcass utilization and cut-out values by Griffin and Jeff Savell, distinguished professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chairholder in the Department of Animal Science.
The meeting was sponsored by the E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chair in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, and Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell served as hosts with assistance from student workers, Kirby Bohls, Kenna Turner, and Jordan Hevner. Graduate student Clay Eastwood helped with the beef carcass and cut-out value demonstrations.
Dr. Anderson gave an update on current market trends for livestock and meat. For the most part, meat production is increasing and with that, prices may reflect that during the upcoming year. While this is not necessarily good news for livestock and poultry producers, this could be good news for those in the restaurant business.
McKensie Harris reported on her work on the effects of aging on beef brisket palatability. This Beef Checkoff-funded research was designed to address the recurring question about whether aging of briskets that are to be prepared as Texas-style barbecue benefit from aging the same way that beef ribeyes and strips do. McKensie found that aging did not impact brisket palatability, which means that briskets can be cooked without concern about aging. She also found that consumers gave samples from the flat higher overall like ratings than samples from the point, even though samples from the point had lower shear force values (more tender) than samples from the flat. McKensie’s research, Assessment of Postmortem Aging Effects on Texas-style Barbecue, was published in the journal, Meat and Muscle Biology. Thanks for Southside Market and Barbeque for their help in conducting this research.
Ronnie and Brek Webber from Tin Roof BBQ provided lunch for everyone. Smoked sirloin along with wonderful sides of potato salad and broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole were a hit. Thanks so much for coming up to meeting and preparing such great food for us.
After lunch, the group moved to the Rosenthal Meat Center for a beef carcass grading demonstration led by Davey Griffin and Ray Riley. Participants were suited up with frocks, hard hats, hairnets, and, where appropriate, beard nets to spend time in the refrigerated cooler learning about beef carcass quality and yield grading.
The USDA beef grading standards have been revised to reflect the use of dentition as an indicator of the age of the carcasses rather than the traditional use of skeletal and lean maturity. Ray Riley used a beef head to show the participants how dentition is used to determine age in cattle.
After the carcass evaluation segment, the participants moved to the Rosenthal Meat Center classroom to learn more about beef carcass cut-out utilization and value. Davey Griffin showed some of the muscles that could be used for barbecue and other cooking applications and answered questions from the participants about where the cuts came from.
The next Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting will be held next December, and we look forward to our continued work with the people in the business of making the best barbecue around.