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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
DougMorford
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Default My butcher's trimming practices

I live in a small college town in ID, and the school of ag runs it's own butcher shop on campus. All of the meat is raised on campus/locally, and I would really love to be their loyal customer (there's only one other butcher in town).

The problem:

I just bought two racks of spare ribs, and I couldn't believe how excessively they were trimmed. They were sheared right down to the bone across the entire rack. All that remained was the little bit of meat between rib bones. Not much was left behind, and needless to say they turned out a little dry due to the lack of mass and fat (Although, I guess I did cook them as if they were regularly trimmed ribs; about 6 hours). Not to mention there just wasn't much to eat. They also cut the rack in half, which creates four end ribs instead of just two (more dryness).

Here's a picture: This is the rack I haven't cooked yet and is still frozen. You can see the bones.



How do I tactfully give them feedback and hopefully change their ways? Or at least get them to set something aside just for me. Is there anything I might want to know about meat processing or why they would trim the ribs like this and cut them in half before I write them an email?

Thanks for your input,

Doug
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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:29 PM   #2
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If you are going to email them just put in the email that you are trying to do some bbq and possibly trying to compete (even if you are or are not trying to compete) and that you would like get your product from them and if they could cut some of their product to your specifications.. 1st being racks of ribs left whole instead of cut in half. And then say that the last product you bought of spare ribs where trimmed further than you are used too and if they could leave more of the fat/meat on the spares (and find a picture of raw spareribs and send them what you are looking for)

I'm sure they wouldnt mind leaving the racks whole, but trying to get them to trim less of the meat/fat off the spares might be a little bit harder.
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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:29 PM   #3
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Maybe that was a test rack lol. Maybe tell them you like to smoke them and prefer a meatier rib so you don't loose as much at the end of smoking.
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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:30 PM   #4
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I guess if it were me I'd procure a "nice" rack of ribs & then bring it in to compare with theirs. Nothin' speaks louder than a visual comparison IMO. Cheers, and good luck!!!
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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:32 PM   #5
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Just ask and show them what you would like.. Most are willing to give you anything your willing to pay per pound for....$ is $ after all....
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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:35 PM   #6
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If it is the college, I imagine the "butcher" is the latest batch of students in a intro class on meat science, so the ribs will probably look completely different next time you go in to purchase some. Your ribs were probably removed by a student making multiple cuts with a hand held knife attempting to maximize the yield on the more profitable cut from the same region - bacon. Just some ideas.
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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:37 PM   #7
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This is all good advice. I'm seeing two paths here, kind of like dog training. I can either rub their noses in their mess, or show them what I want. I think I'll show them what I want. I will send an email with this picture attached though. Maybe management doesn't know what their product looks like...
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Unread 01-24-2013, 04:42 PM   #8
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You're right arky, they're definitely students. I've been in classes with a few of the employees. This is my first purchase from them, so this could easily be a fluke.

Bacon vs. ribs is the kind of info I was wondering about. That makes sense.
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Unread 01-24-2013, 05:04 PM   #9
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If they are students, how will they learn without honest feedback?

CD
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Unread 01-24-2013, 05:05 PM   #10
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Yeah, they were butchered alright ... And yes, they need some practice with the knife.

There are two schools of thought here, one is custom butchering, the other is standard practice. Your basic ribs fall under standard practice. The bad thing is, many butchers these days use a box cutter as much as a knife or saw because most of their meat comes in already broken down into primal cuts.... in other words not every meat cutter starts with a carcass like the AG department does.

You can get some good experience by hanging around a custom butcher, and in Idaho, I'll bet during hunting season there are processors that hire extra help. Working on elk and deer will give you plenty of experience with working with a carcass (although wild game ribs are pretty skimpy).

The NAMP Meat Buyers Guide is the industry standard that meat cutters should follow, it covers all meats and has descriptions of each cut and many diagrams. However.... I know many meat cutters that only looked at it when they were in school, and others that need to read it again. Here is a sample of what kind of information is available.

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Unread 01-25-2013, 02:13 AM   #11
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nice detail 3rd eye
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Unread 01-25-2013, 09:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdeye View Post
Yeah, they were butchered alright ... And yes, they need some practice with the knife.

There are two schools of thought here, one is custom butchering, the other is standard practice. Your basic ribs fall under standard practice. The bad thing is, many butchers these days use a box cutter as much as a knife or saw because most of their meat comes in already broken down into primal cuts.... in other words not every meat cutter starts with a carcass like the AG department does.

You can get some good experience by hanging around a custom butcher, and in Idaho, I'll bet during hunting season there are processors that hire extra help. Working on elk and deer will give you plenty of experience with working with a carcass (although wild game ribs are pretty skimpy).

The NAMP Meat Buyers Guide is the industry standard that meat cutters should follow, it covers all meats and has descriptions of each cut and many diagrams. However.... I know many meat cutters that only looked at it when they were in school, and others that need to read it again. Here is a sample of what kind of information is available.


This is fine and all but says nothing about a "standard" amount of meat thickness on the bacon side.They didn't get the name SPARE ribs for nothing.Until recently there wasn't a huge demand for them.Any meat left on while removing them makes the bacon thinner.It seems like the OP is implying that the meat cutter doesn't know what they are doing.I see nothing wrong with the ribs he got.If you want meaty ribs then get the whole belly and cut it yourself or tell them you want meaty ribs and prepare to pay accordingly.
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Unread 01-25-2013, 09:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yellowhair42 View Post
This is fine and all but says nothing about a "standard" amount of meat thickness on the bacon side.They didn't get the name SPARE ribs for nothing.Until recently there wasn't a huge demand for them.Any meat left on while removing them makes the bacon thinner.It seems like the OP is implying that the meat cutter doesn't know what they are doing.I see nothing wrong with the ribs he got.If you want meaty ribs then get the whole belly and cut it yourself or tell them you want meaty ribs and prepare to pay accordingly.
Well, with no disrespect intended, his ribs look like shiner city to me....

The NAMP standards describe what should be trimmed away,..and in some cases describe what the particular finished cut should look like.... so in theory, what is left is always dependent on what you start with. The goal is consistent cuts of meat, or getting what you ask for.

I cut this St Louis rack down from a very generous slab of spares. I refer to skilled knife work resulting in generous cuts as a "proud cut". (The term loosely refers to some left-over meat, but in a slightly different meaning. )

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