ABC’s of Wagyu Beef

What are WAGYU?
WAGYU – a Japanese beef cattle breed – derive from native Asian cattle. ‘WAGYU’ refers to all Japanese beef cattle, where ‘Wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means cow. Wagyu were originally draft animals used in agriculture and were selected for their physical endurance. This selection favored animals with more intra-muscular fat cells – ‘marbling’ – which provided a readily available energy source. Wagyu is a horned breed and the cattle are either black or red in color.

Wagyu vs. Kobe Beef
You may have heard “kobe” used interchangeably with “wagyu,” or used to tout an expensive cut of meat. So, what is kobe beef? Kobe is essentially just a brand of wagyu beef, in the same way that Nike is a brand of shoe.
In order for something to be labeled as Kobe beef, first of all, it has to originate in Kobe, Japan. Then, all parties who have a hand in getting this sought-after meat to your table—from the farm to the slaughterhouse to the buyer to the restaurant—has to be licensed by The Kobe Beef Association. “Everyone is paying to be part of the thing called kobe beef,” Heitzeberg says. “But the final thing is they have to be rated A4 or A5—so everything else could be true, but if it’s an A3, you can’t call it Kobe,” Heitzeberg says.

And if you see the words “American kobe” on a menu, take it as a big red flag—American kobe doesn’t exist. “Kobe is from Kobe, Japan, just like Champagne is from Champagne,” Henderson says. “To be true kobe beef, it has to be from Kobe. [Restaurants] cold be part of an association where they’re able to sell kobe beef, but kobe beef is not able to be produced here.”

What’s the Difference Between Japanese and American Wagyu?

In addition to the looser rating system and divergent cattle-farming techniques, the biggest difference between American wagyu and Japanese wagyu is that Japanese wagyu is purebred, where American wagyu is crossbred. “[American wagyu] is still going to be crazy marbled with intense flavor, but it’s most likely wagyu bred with angus,” Henderson says.

“Almost all of that stuff is angus beef crossbred with wagyu in an uncontrolled, unregulated, unspecified percentage of DNA,” Heitzeberg says. “I’ve eaten my bodyweight several times over in Japanese wagyu and American wagyu, and I haven’t tasted anything that’s angus mixed with wagyu at any percentage that tastes like Japanese wagyu does at 100 percent

Besides yield and quality grading system, you will also find Beef Marbling System in the classification of Wagyu beef. This grading system specifically looks at the beef marbling, with 1 for the lowest marbling score and 12 for the highest marbling score.

Chris Marks CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces and Good-One Smoker/Grills

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Three Little Pigs BBQ Rubs & Sauces recipe cards

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Smoked Beer Cheese

Ingredients

2 8oz Pkgs Cream Cheese, softened

1 (oz) pkg dry ranch salad dressing mix

2 Cups (Shredded) cheddar cheese

½ cup of beer (More as needed)

2 tsp Three Little Pig’s Championship BBQ Seasoning

 Directions

  • Mix cream cheese with ranch mix until thoroughly mixed, stir in cheddar cheese.
  • Slowly mix in beer to reach the consistency you like.
  • Add Three Little Pig’s BBQ Seasoning and mix well.
  • Smoke with Apple or Cherrywood for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with crackers or pretzels.

Chris Marks CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces and Good-One Smoker/Grills

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Smoked Green Beans

Ingredients

2-(28oz) Green Beans

1lb Yukon Gold Potatoes

½ cup chopped white onion

1 lb Polska Kielboasa

1-3.5oz stick of Kerry Gold “Garlic & Herb” butter

2 tsp Three Little Pig’s All Purpose Rub BBQ Seasoning

Directions

  1. Sauté/Grill onions in Kelly Gold butter until tender.
  2. Cut Yukon Pototoes into bite size pieces.
  3. Pre cook Potatoes until tender.
  4. Drain green beans and add to large catering pan.
  5. Cut Polska Kielboasa into bite size pieces.
  6. Add the Sauté Onions,Kielboasa, Potatoes,Three Little Pigs All Purpose seasoning and remaining butter to cater pan and stir well.
  7. Smoke in smoker with wild cherry or apple for 30 minutes than cover with foil and heat until hot.

Chris Marks CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces and Good-One Smoker/Grills

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How to trim the back of a Beef Plate or Beef Chuck Ribs for BBQ smoking.

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How To Smoke Tube Breakfast Sausage.

Video with Chris Marks of Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces showing how to prepare (Jimmy Dean) tube breakfast sausage fo a BBQ smoker.

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Carolina Style Pulled Turkey

Ingredients

1- 3-4# Turkey Breast

Three Little Pig’s Carolina BBQ Sauce

Three Little Pig’s Memphis BBQ Rub

Yellow Mustard

Directions

  1. Use yellow mustard to coat both sides of the Turkey Breast, liberally coat both sides of the Turkey Breast with Three Little Pig’s Memphis BBQ rub.
  2. Heat the Smoker or Grill to 300 degrees, add favorite flavor wood, I prefer cherry or pecan.
  3. Smoke or Grill Turkey Breast to 165 degrees, measure with a thermometer to verify correct temperature. I prefer the Thermapen quick read.
  4. Remove the turkey breast from the smoker or grill coarsely shred with two forks.
  5. Mix Three Little Pig’s Carolina BBQ sauce with the pulled pork, add more sauce for more intense flavor.
  6. Serve the turkey on buns with slaw.

Chris Marks CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces and Good-One Smoker/Grills

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Pig Candy Bacon Recipe


Ingredients:
• 1-Bottle of Three Little Pigs Touch of Cherry Rub
• 10-12 slices of bacon (about 1 1/4 pound of thick-cut bacon)
• 1/4 cup pure Grade A maple syrup

Directions (Oven)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2.  Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment. Place a baking or cooling rack atop the lined baking sheet and lay the bacon side-by-side.
  3.  Sprinkle Touch of Cherry BBQ Rub onto the bacon, pressing it into the bacon to be sure it adheres.
  4.  Bake for 8 minutes, or until very lightly brown. Take the bacon out of the oven and brush the top side of the bacon with maple syrup. Return to the oven to bake for an additional 2-3 minutes. After the 3-minute mark, flip the bacon over, and sprinkle the bacon with the Touch of Cherry BBQ Rub.
  5.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Brush the top side with maple syrup and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  6.  Allow the bacon to reach room temperature, until it’s cool enough to handle and then transfer the bacon to a sheet of parchment or a plate. Place the bacon in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Directions (Smoker) 

  1. Preheat the smoker to 300 degrees F. Add smoking wood of Choice- I prefer wild cherry.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment. Place a baking or cooling rack atop the lined baking sheet and lay the bacon side-by-side.
  3.  Sprinkle Touch of Cherry BBQ Rub onto the bacon, pressing it into the bacon to be sure it adheres.
  4.  Smoke for 20 minutes, or until very lightly brown. Take the bacon out of the smoker, brush the top side of the bacon with maple syrup. Return to the smoker for an additional 10 minutes. After the 10 minute mark, flip the bacon over, and sprinkle the bacon with the Touch of Cherry  BBQ Rub.

Chris Marks CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces and Good-One Smoker/Grills

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The Science of Cooking a Turkey

 

Have you ever cooked a perfect turkey? Were the breasts moist and tender and the leg completely cooked? Chances are, not always. Why is it so hard to get the dark meat cooked perfectly without over cooking the white meat? The reason is that a turkey is actually two distinctly different kinds of meat. The breast meat is very different from the leg, thigh and wing meat. This can create a real challenge when it comes to cooking the perfect bird.

The make-up of a turkey:

At the biochemical level a turkey is a combination of approximately 3 parts water to one-part fat and one-part protein. Most of the meat comes from muscle fibers in the turkey, which are mostly proteins – notably myosin and actin. Because turkeys rarely fly but rather walk, they contain far more fat in their legs than in their breast, which results in the strong differences in texture between these sections of the bird – and the difficulty in making sure that all portions of the bird are properly heated.

The science of cooking a turkey:

As you cook the turkey, muscle fibers contract until they begin to break up at around 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Bonds within the molecules begin to break down, causing proteins to unravel, and the dense muscle meat to become tenderer. Collagen in the bird (one of three protein fibers that attach muscles to the bone) breaks down into softer gelatin molecules as it unwinds.

The dryness of a turkey is a result of muscle proteins coagulating within the meat, which can result if it is cooked too long.

Temperature differentials in cooking a turkey:

Part of the problem, as described above, is that the different nature of the light and dark meat in a turkey results in different rates to reach the coagulation of the muscle proteins. If you cook it too long, the breast meat has coagulated; if you don’t cook the bird long enough, the dark meat is still tough and chewy. Harold McGee, a food science writer, indicates aiming for 155 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast), but you want 180 degrees or above in the leg.

White Turkey Meat

  • White meat is found in the breast and wing muscles of a turkey.
  • Turkey can fly, but it is not their main mode of locomotion. Turkeys use their wing muscles when they need a burst of speed to escape predators. These muscles produce a lot of power, but they fatigue quickly.
  • Turkey breast and wing muscles consist mainly of white muscle fibers. These fibers contract quickly and split ATP at a fast pace, though they become exhausted quickly, too.
  • White fibers are powered by anaerobic respiration, so a turkey can move quickly even though its muscles may have exhausted the available oxygen. The tissue contains a large amount of glycogen, which can be used as fast energy source.

Dark Turkey Meat

  • Turkey legs and thighs are dark meat.
  • Turkey spends a lot of time walking on the ground. Their leg muscles are adapted for regular, continuous use.
  • Leg and thigh muscles consist primarily of red muscle fibers. These fibers contract slowly and split ATP for energy at a relatively low rate.
  • Red muscle fibers rely on aerobic respiration. The protein uses oxygen to relax/contract, so this tissue is rich in capillaries, which give it a deep color and rich flavor. Dark meat contains a lot of myoglobin and is rich in mitochondria, which produce energy for the muscle tissue.

Smoked Turkey

Smoked turkey has a different color and texture than oven roasted turkey. The meat may appear pink and have a smoother texture. This is normal. The smoking process causes a chemical change in turkey that changes the color of the flesh. If the turkey registers a temperature of 165 degrees F. it is safe to eat no matter the color.

This requires a cooking time:

  • At 235 degrees F your turkey will take 30 to 35 minutes per pound. At 250 degrees F your turkey will take 25 to 30 minutes per pound. At 275 degrees F your turkey will take 20 to 25 minutes per pound.
  • I really do not recommend stuffing your turkey for smoking. This increases the cooking time (about 5 minutes a pound) and puts a lot of food in contact with potential bacteria. For smoking, it is best that your turkey can cook from the inside as well as the out.
  • Before the turkey goes in the smoker you will want to add some flavor to the bird. This is best done with a spice rub. I use Three Little Pig’s Touch of Cherry Rub on the Turkey after I rub it down with Olive Oil first.
  • With the smoker hot and the bird on the cooking grate, it is time to build up a good dose of smoke. Meat absorbs more smoke early on during the cooking process than it does later, so now is the time to get the smoke going.
  • Any wood (except maybe mesquite) is a good choice for your smoke. I like a mixture of hickory and cherry. This gives a strong smoke flavor from the hickory and a sweet flavor from the cherry wood. Of course, whatever you like is the way to go.
  • Look for the center of the breast and push the meat thermometer into it but avoid getting it on the bone. Bone heats faster than meat and will give you a false reading. Next, check the thigh between the leg and the body. Now do the same thing on the other side. The lowest reading is the one you use. You are looking for a temperature between 165 (Breast) and 175 degrees F (Thighs).

Link to Advanced Turkey Cooking methods, Spatchcocking,Injections and brines.

Chris Marks CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces and Good-One Smoker/Grills

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Guide to Grilling the Perfect Asparagus or Green Beans

Cleaning

Select fresh green beans and/or asparagus and wash in cold water. For asparagus, snap off the bottom end of each spear. The natural breaking point varies slightly from spear to spear. Discard the bottom ends. For green beans, cut off and discard the stem ends.

 Marinating

Place the vegetables in a plastic zip-loc freezer bag and add fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, Three Little Pig’s All Purpose Rub. For one bundle of asparagus, or enough green beans to serve two, use the juice (and pulp) from ½ of a large lemon, ¼ cup olive oil, about 1 tablespoon of garlic flakes, and a light sprinkling of salt. Seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, and let marinate for at least 15 minutes.

 Grilling

Place the vegetables over direct heat on the grill surface in a loose pile, being cautious of flare-ups from the olive oil. If you take a little care to drop the vegetables on the grill one piece at a time, you shouldn’t be bringing too much oil along with them. Discard the liquid. I like using Grill Grates they are perfect for these veggies, but if the spacing on your grill surface is wider than the beans or the asparagus, take care to place them across the grates. Place the veggies in a loose pile. At 500 to 600 degrees the veggies should grill for a total of about 6 minutes with the hood closed. Halfway through, turn the veggies over. It is not important to turn each bean or asparagus spear over, just loosely turn most of the pile over using tongs and slightly redistribute on the grill surface.

When done, the vegetables should still be crisp and green, with blackened spots over less then 25% of the surface. Remove from the grill and serve. Add a little salt if necessary, but the veggies should still be glistening and moist, needing no butter or additional oil.

Serve grilled beans or asparagus alongside fish, steaks or chops, simply prepping them as the grill preheats and then adding them to the fire six minutes before the main dish is done. This method also works well for ¼” thick slices of zucchini, but you need to use only about a tablespoon of lemon juice. The sliced zucchini really absorbs the lemon flavor.

Chris Marks  CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces and Good-One Smoker/Grills

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