Wednesday, June 19, 2024

I Need Expert Barbecue Tips

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ON THIS WEEK’S episode of Dinner SOS, test kitchen director and host Chris Morocco is joined by beef expert Dave Yasuda of Snake River Farms and award-winning pitmaster Tuffy Stone to help caller Jon master the art of cooking beef cheeks.

Jon isn’t just your average barbecue enthusiast—he has four smokers, a thriving YouTube channel, and even turned his side hustle into a small catering company outside of Pittsburgh. While he’s mastered the smoking of many different meats, from pulled pork to brisket and venison to guinea hen, success has eluded him when it comes to one cut in particular: beef cheeks. Both of his attempts turned out inedible and tough.

Chris calls on Dave Yasuda of Snake River Farms, a premium meat purveyor that breeds cattle to produce high-quality American Wagyu beef. Dave is an expert on practically every cut. He explains that when cooking beef, where the meat comes from on the animal affects the cooking process. With beef cheeks, you have a very well used muscle (cows are constantly chewing), which means the meat is very flavorful yet very tough.

Dave recruits friend and chef Tuffy Stone, author of the barbecue cookbook Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue, to assist. Tuffy’s first tip is that Jon should ask the butcher for pre-trimmed beef cheeks, which already have some of the toughest membranes and fat removed. They discuss optimal cooking temperature of the smoker (Tuffy suggests raising the heat from 225 to 275 degrees to reach a higher internal temperature and raise the point of peak tenderness, which will help to break down more collagen and connective tissue. He also advises seasoning the meat (putting a rub on only 30 minutes to an hour before to avoid curing the meat with salt) and the importance of introducing moisture during the cooking process (basting with butter and spritzing with apple juice to keep the meat hydrated). Plus, he shares tips on how to know when your meat is done and how long to rest it for before slicing or shredding (the bigger the cut of meat means the longer the rest time).

As for what to make with the beef cheeks, Dave suggests beef cheek tacos. Listen now to hear more tips on barbecue from these two experts and to find out whether Jon is able to achieve the tender beef cheeks of his dreams.



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