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Caribbean Chef Team Visits Texas for Education on U.S. Beef, Barbecue Techniques

Published: Friday, September 6th, 2019

Ten chefs from the Caribbean were offered new ideas for U.S. beef and barbecue dishes during a USMEF-led mission to ranches, feedlots, production facilities and restaurants in Texas. The Caribbean team also had an overview of the U.S. beef industry at Texas A&M University Kingsville (TAMUK) and took part in a “Beef and Barbecue 101” course offered by the Texas Beef Council (TBC), which funded the mission.

Chefs from the Caribbean prepare U.S. beef cuts for barbecue at a training session at Boots Ranch in Alice, Texas

Chefs from the Caribbean prepare U.S. beef cuts for barbecue at a training session at Boots Ranch in Alice, Texas

“We were really able to do a lot of educational activities and other neat things with this team and the result is that there are now 10 chefs in the Caribbean who have a better understanding and a new appreciation for U.S. beef and for Texas barbecue dishes,” said Liz Wunderlich, USMEF representative in the Caribbean. “It was really an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ trip, because they were able to experience a lot and use their own skills and creativity with cuts that were new to them, as well.”

Chefs from the Caribbean prepare U.S. beef cuts for barbecue at a training session at Boots Ranch in Alice, Texas

Chefs from the Caribbean prepare U.S. beef cuts for barbecue at a training session at Boots Ranch in Alice, Texas

The mission included stops at TAMUK, where team members participated in a session designed to give them a better understanding of the factors impacting the quality of beef and the “science behind the sizzle,” as Wunderlich put it. Faculty members Tanner Machado, Rick Machen and Randy Stanko presented an overview of the U.S. beef industry and offered key components for beef palatability and quality – marbling, grain feeding, aging, texture and proper chilling and freezing. They explained grading and food safety and talked about the efficiency and safety of U.S. beef production.

The “Beef and Barbecue 101” course at the Texas Beef Council office in Austin was a training on the steps, skills and materials needed to conduct an authentic Texas barbecue festival. USMEF consultant and chef Jay McCarthy and Jason Bagley of TBC presented the course, discussed barbecue equipment and how to manage a barbecue pit – including wood selection, temperature and time, building a fire, managing smoke and selecting sauces and rubs.

A alternative beef cuts cutting demonstration concentrated on chuck roll, shoulder clod, short ribs and top sirloin butt. Samples of these cuts were enjoyed by the chef team.

Bagley then talked about why dishes following the “Texas” theme sell so well on menus around the world. A sensory comparison between U.S. beef inside and outside skirts, bottom sirloin flap, flank steak, and hanger steak followed, including price differentials.

For a hands-on experience with U.S. beef, USMEF led the chef team to Boots Ranch, a ranch and stocker operation in Alice, Texas, owned by David and Laura Hausman, who demonstrated South Texas cuisine and how to use Traeger and Green Egg smokers.

A young cowboy assists members of the chef team at the hands-on session at Boots Ranch

A young cowboy assists members of the chef team at the hands-on session at Boots Ranch

In what was described as a “beef ideation session,” Bagley introduced cuts for hands-on grilling and barbecue. Each chef then chose one of five beef cuts to work with: shoulder tender, top blade/flat iron, bottom sirloin flap, bottom sirloin tri-tip or top sirloin cap.

The Caribbean chefs’ mission to Texas also included a tour of Graham Land & Cattle, Lone Star Meats’ portion control plant and STX Beef for insights into U.S. feeding, production and processing of beef.

The team was given an overview of the U.S. beef industry at Texas A&M University Kingsville

The team was given an overview of the U.S. beef industry at Texas A&M University Kingsville

Participating in the “Central Texas Barbecue Crawl,” the team sampled flavors and saw pits, programs and Texas-style dishes and presentations at several leading barbecue restaurants:

  • City Market, Luling, Texas — Founded in 1958, the meat is cooked over post oak in specially designed pits.
  • Salt Lick BBQ, Driftwood, Texas — Consistently rated one of the best barbecue restaurants in the state of Texas.
  • Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Austin, Texas — Featured cut: beef chuck short rib.
  • Rudy’s BBQ for Breakfast Tacos, Austin, Texas — Rudy’s utilizes brisket and sausage for its signature tacos and smokes the briskets in-house over Oyler rotisserie pits.
  • Southside Market and Barbeque, Elgin, Texas — Oldest barbecue joint in Texas, founded in 1882.

At Southside, the team toured the facility and learned about general sausage technology, science of barbecue, trimming and slicing brisket, defining central Texas barbecue and Texas-style side dishes.

“There is nothing that replaces a hands-on approach when you are working with creative chefs,” said Wunderlich. “As a result of this team, barbecue events are being planned on three islands in the Caribbean, new cuts are being sourced and chefs returned to their properties inspired to create menus featuring underutilized cuts.”