Brisket Recipe Competition Style: Complete Guide

Brisket Rubs and Sauces

Buy BBQSuperStars Approved Brisket Rubs and Sauces Now 


Real Life Anatomy

Brisket’s are made up of a point and a flat. As you can see
10898166_10204181821560576_572131815916944967_n in this picture the flat is the top piece above the fat and the point is below and toward the back. The Point is used for burnt ends. Most cooks experience The Stall with Brisket. Black Pepper is the key to Brisket. Texas has got that figured out! White pepper is a lighter pepper. Temperatures

Its been used for years. The point was used for burn ends and were thought to be useless but a restaurant started putting them at the end of the serving line and it became more popular than the brisket. Burping your BBQ!

The Brisket is the pectoral muscle of the cow. 10923647_10204181821520575_3857189202016771008_nIt has always been considered a tuff piece of meat. It has historically been hard to cook. In Texas they had meat markets that sold a lot of beef. When the beef started to go bad they would BBQ it. Brisket was an unwanted piece of meat and they would sell it smoked out behind the meat market. Texas BBQ came from Czechoslovakian, and German Meat Market owners made sausage and ribs as ribs didn’t have a lot of meat on them either.

We’ve got Black’s BBQ out of Lockhart Texas to thank for Brisket being so popular.  The founding father of Black’s BBQ decided one day in 1933 he was going to cook Brisket as his main beef offering in his restaurant and that started the whole thing.  Click here to listen to the latest Black tell the story.

As we begin to trim our brisket, we see that there are some kernels of fat between the point and flat. 10551059_10204181823280619_1716643929996062555_n These will jell instead of melt away. Beef bones are used in capsule creation, jello gelatin, and, other gelatin applications because of this fact. Remove as much of this fat as you can.

In BBQ Competition you want burnt ends and saving meat is not important. Expose as much of the point as you can to allow the smoke and heat to cook these to desired consistency.10897857_10204181821240568_1753421884826523019_n
Making a line across the back of the brisket between the point and flat give you a good starting point when are trimming the point to no fat. Don’t leave much fat on this part.  It is important to expose as much meat as possible. The meat in this part of the flat is like a Tri-Tip.

It can get tuff quick so you want to make sure and wrap this at the right point to allow it to soften it up before you serve it.10906008_10204181821160566_1253868848815975428_nWhen you inject some experts say just go along the grain, others say go against the grain, other say both. I say both and every angle you can think of. It is said that pooling or putting to much in one place is not good.  I have to dis-agree because it runs through the meat. Regular medical injections are initially a pool and is distributed. 10898261_10204181814120390_1464705069903042963_n (1) This is a picture of across the grain injection. Below is some shots of injecting with the grain.

Real Life Anatomy

Kosmo Q is the best in the business when it comes to rubs combinations.




Butcher BBQ Prime Brisket Injection

Its hard to beat the color, the flavor combinations, and finish product.  Cook your brisket for 2 hours at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the burnt ends get burnt. Then wrap the brisket.



After 2 1/2 hours in the smoker with Frontier Charcoal. Man did it kick up the heat. It was 350 the whole time. As you can see when I opened the smoker the liquid that developed at the top of the Brisket is the sign that its time to wrap. The moisture at this point is coming out of the Brisket.  So you add a little of all the rubs to the Brisket on top of two layers of Aluminum Foil.  Pout the rest of the injection, Sweet Smoke Q Beef, Peach Nectar and Martinelli Apple Juice, Agave Light Nectar into the foil and cook for 2 more hours at 350.

Cooked Brisket

Its Done Time for a sandwich.

Look at all those eyes in a Whole Chuck. Think about the kind of box you could make out of a whole chuck. The there is substantial marbling in a whole chuck. Its a better choice for BBQ Competition.  Inject, rub and cook just like a brisket.


When cooking a Brisket you have to start off with good quality brisket so lets start off there. Certified Black Angus is meeting the challenge now. 

Determination of Final Quality Grade:

After the degree of maturity and marbling has been determined, these two factors are combined to arrive at the Final Quality Grade. The fundamentals involved in applying quality grades are learning the degrees of marbling in order from lowest to highest and minimum marbling degrees for each maturity group and understanding the relationship between marbling and maturity in each quality grade.

Step-Wise Procedure for Quality Grading Beef Carcasses

1. Determine carcass skeletal maturity by evaluating the degree of skeletal ossification in the top three thoracic vertebra (buttons), and the sacral and lumbar vertebra. Also evaluate the color and shape of the ribs. Determine lean maturity by evaluating the color and texture of the lean in the ribeye exposed between the 12th and 13th ribs.


Skeletal Maturity + Lean Maturity = Overall Maturity

A60 + A40 = A50 (Simple Average)

B60 + A80 = B30 (>40; 10% to bone)

C60 + B10 = C00 (B/C line)

D60 + B20 = C60 (<=100% from bone)

2. Evaluate the marbling in the ribeye and determine the marbling score.


Overall Maturity + Marbling Score = USDA Quality Grade

A70 + Sm40 = Ch-

B60 + Md40 = Up

3. Determine lean firmness to ensure that the minimum degree of firmness specified for each maturity group is met.

Table illustrating the minimum marbling score requirements for USDA quality grades within each final maturity group

Final maturity score
USDA Quality Grade
A00 B00 C00 D00 E00
Prime +
raw or
Prime –
Choice +
Choice o
Choice –
Select +
Select –

AB = Abundant; MAB = Moderately Abundant; SLAB = Slightly Abundant; MD = Moderate; MT = Modest; SM = Small; SL = Slight; TR = Traces; PD = Practically Devoid.
Carcasses with B, C, D, or E final maturity scores require an increasing amount of marbling as maturity increases to remain in the same quality grade.
Carcasses having B final maturity scores with Small and Slight marbling must grade U.S. Standard. There is no U.S. Select grade for B maturity carcasses.





All beef is inspected for wholesomeness by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)*, and is graded for quality and consistency. You’ve heard of Prime, Choice and Select grades – and Prime tops the grading scale. Marbling plays a big role in quality grades.

Grading chart
Marbling – the little white flecks in beef – is key to flavor. The higher the amount of marbling, the higher the quality of beef. The Certified Angus Beef ® brand is incredibly flavorful, tender and juicy because of the high amounts of marbling in every cut.

Q: How is beef graded?
A: Independent USDA graders inspect cattle and label them according to the grading scale: Prime, Choice, Select and several low-quality grades.

Q: How is beef selected for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand?
A: The same independent USDA graders inspect black-hided cattle (typical of the Angus breed) and give it a grade. All beef considered for the brand must be the best Choice, or Prime, beef – truly the top of the scale. grading-chartThis top-quality Angus beef is then evaluated again, using the brand’s set of 10 science-based specifications for marbling, size and uniformity. If it’s good enough to make the cut, then it earns the distinctive Certified Angus Beef ® brand label.

Q: What makes Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime the ultimate beef?
A: Quality, plain and simple. Only truly elite beef surpasses the USDA’s stringent Prime standards, AND meets all 10 of the brand’s quality specifications. Less than 1.5% of beef achieves the high standards of Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime. And marbling is key to its incredible flavor and tenderness.


Marbling (intramuscular fat) is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean. Graders evaluate the amount and distribution of marbling in the ribeye muscle at the cut surface after the carcass has been ribbed between the 12th and 13th ribs. Degree of marbling is the primary determination of quality grade.

Degrees of Marbling

Each degree of marbling is divided into 100 subunits. In general, however, marbling scores are discussed in tenths within each degree of marbling (e.g.,Slight 90, Small 00, Small 10).

Marbling Score
Prime + Abundant 00-100
Prime ° Moderately Abundant 00-100
Prime – Slightly Abundant 00-100
Choice + Moderate 00-100
Choice ° Modest 00-100
Choice – Small 00-100
Select + Slight 50-100
Select – Slight 00-49
Standard + Traces 34-100
Standard ° Practically Devoid 67-100 to Traces 00-33
Standard – Practically Devoid 00-66


In this video Joe Melton did a great job doing this brisket! Check out Joe from Rutherfordton NC!

BBQ Brisket is the toughest cut of meat to cook. Some say its better to cook the left handed brisket because it is not the side the cow got up on every time and make it tougher.

Warning: Wagyu Brisket is cooked Hot and Fast. The Fat will render out faster than with other types of brisket. If you cook a Wagyu Brisket low and slow fat will render out and it will dry and draw up. Source Butcher BBQ and Jack Waiboer said it two years apart 1500 miles apart. They both said the same thing.

Inconsistency in your cook-When you go out every week and compete in BBQ its easy to to see differences in your cook week to week. What is going on? Butcher BBQ at The American Royal talked about this at length. He said, “It in the feed.” When you buy meat you have to buy the same brand to start off with every time. That at least will give you that much consistency.  Then you have to find out about the feed lots. Some companies feed as much as 4 different types of feed a year. For instance 3 months on Corn based feed, 3 months on Wheat based feed, 3 months on Soy based feed, and 3 months on another base. These changes in base feed will change the consistency in your meat.  If you take the same company’s meat out and do the same cook you always do with a wide changing results then the feed lot for that meat changed from the last one you cooked. How can you find out what companies change feed lots will follow on BBQSuperStars as we do our research.

Texas is the BBQ Brisket capital of the world. Kansas started cooking it later. Nothing in BBQ taste any better than a BBQ Brisket  A BBQ Brisket flavor profile is beef, beef and more beef.  Injected with beef flavor, rub down with beef flavor, and cooked in beef flavor. There is a short distance between championship Beef Brisket and pot roast.  Championship BBQ Brisket is suppose to pull apart with a small amount of resistance and when you pull on it. It should make a spider web looking pattern on the brisket. That is when you know when its done.

BBQSuperStars Brisket Recipe


  • 2 packs McCormick Brown Gravy Mix
  • 3 oz Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 oz Soy Sauce
  • 3 oz Moore’s Marinade
  • 16 oz Beef Broth
  • 3 oz of Bacon Grease
  • 3 oz Red Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon of Moo’d Enhancer Draper’s BBQ
  • 2 oz of Budweiser Beer

Cook 1 pound of bacon and drain the grease into a 4 quart pot. Pour 16 oz of beef broth into the pot. Put it on low heat. Add the two packages of McCormick Brown Gravy Mix into the pot. Add the Worcestershire, Soy, and Moore Marinades into the pot.  Let it cook for 10 minutes.  Then add the Budweiser, Moo’d Enhancer, and Red Wine.  Cook for another 10 minutes then strain it all into a glass holding jar. Plastic reacts with the injection and changes the flavor especially if the plastic jar was used for cold beverages.  Refrigerate over night then inject your brisket the next day when your ready.

Series of Rubs

You can’t do a brisket with just one rub. There are certain rubs that are better for cooking brisket.

Brisket rubs come in two categories:

Smoked Salt with Black Pepper in it. Smoked Salt is different than regular salt. you have to start off with Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, Coarse Salt all the same thing.  You can put this salt in your own smoker but Kosmo Q, Butcher, and Big Ron’s have already done a good job with it.

Kosmo Q winning combination can’t hurt to put these 3 rubs on your brisket

Get Kosmo Q Championship Brisket Injection Now!





David Bouska of Butcher’s BBQ is the #1 Authority in the world on BBQ Brisket.  He hasbrisket won World Championships in Brisket. Butcher BBQ has injections, rubs, sauces combinations that have won World Championships.  David Bouska opens his mouth to talk about Brisket stop what your doing and listen to every word. He is all by himself at the top of BBQ Brisket. Congratulations for being the best in the World.  There are a lot of Great Brisket cooks in the World but David Bouska knows chemically, anatomically, and cooking process wise more about Brisket than anyone else.

BBQSuperStars Award of Excellence to Butcher BBQ 



Red Brisket Rubs are deep paprika, black pepper, red pepper, and a salty background. Kosmo Q, Butcher, Plowboys, Junior Urias Rub for Grub, Big T on BSN have got to be some of the Best in the World.  Red Brisket Rub is the top rub and Smoked Salt Rub is the under layer.

Bold Flavors it the heart beat of the South West, Fresh Black Pepper is a must on any Brisket weather your cooking in Competition or in the Backyard.

You can’t wrap a brisket in a Texas Crutch that is for ribs. You got to wrap it in what I call a boat. I’ve got live and youtube video’s doing it in living color.

After you rub your Brisket and cook it for 2 hours you have to rub lightly with the Red Rub and build and Azue.

Azue is a fancy word for cooking sauce. Building an Azue around a brisket is very important. Being in a boat tightens the Azue up around the Brisket.  Championship BBQ Cooks keep the Azue for as many as 10 cooks and freeze it between cooks so it will keep getting stronger and stronger.

Azue for a Brisket

  • 8 oz Beef Broth
  • 4 0z Blueberry Juice (Cranberry Ocean Spray Diet)
  • 1 oz Worcestershire
  • 2 oz Red Wine
  • 1 oz Soy Sauce
  • 1 oz Moore’s Marinade
  • 4 oz Agave Nectar
  • Bacon Grease

The wrap is critical. Two large Tin Foil is doubled, on the bottom and top, Top Tin Foil rolled to the center and ends brought up as the video up top there Kosmo Q vs Butcher.  I used water in the video for dilution because I want to see the properties of the two injection powders.

Butcher / Kosmo Q injection Recipe

  • 16 oz Beef Broth for Butcher (use one Kosmo Q/Butcher)
  • 24 oz Beef Broth for Kosmo
  • 1 oz Worcestershire
  • 1 oz Soy Sauce
  • 1 oz Moore’s Marinde
  • 2 oz Moo’d Enhancer Draper’s BBQ
  • 3 oz Bacon Grease

Fab B stains Briskets, Fab B Lite is out of style now.  Big Ron’s is moving in. Some people may be using Fab B Lite.

  • 16 oz Beef Broth for Butcher
  • 16 oz for Big Ron’s
  • 2 oz Worcestershire
  • 2 oz Soy Sauce
  • 2 oz Moore’s Marinde
  • 4 oz Moo’d Enhancer Draper’s BBQ
  • 6 oz Bacon Grease

This is a double batch cut it in half for two Briskets.

Don’t ever use apple juice on a brisket it make it too loose, and too moist. If you want pot luck use apple juice. If you want quality competition Brisket use Beef Broth. The more Beef Flavor you can instill in that brisket the better it will taste.


Most Championship Brisket cooks can make there brisket injection as thick as a slightly thin gravy.  It makes the injection more stable in staying in the brisket.

BBQ Cooks put Mustard on a Brisket. I’ve seen them put French’s Mustard on all types of pork. Mustard is not compatible with Beef Brisket.  Mustard, Vinegar, Pinapple are all things you use on pork not Brisket.

Rub a Brisket down with oil. No way, I wouldn’t do it.  I’ve seen on television where it looked like a Texas Restaurant must has possibly put oil on the outside of their Brisket.  Oil on the outside of a potato will cook the potato better in a baking environment because the oil itself will get hot and add temperature to the potato.  Brisket is oily enough plus adding oil can make your rubs run off your Brisket. Don’t put oil on your Brisket. Put rub on the outside of your Brisket the night before (some say this will pull moisture out of the brisket) put you rub on 30 minutes before you put it into the cooker. 30 minute rule is in effect now a days. People are winning that way.

Soak a Brisket in Red Wine. In Canada its been done quite often. Soak a Brisket in Red Wine the night before you cook it.  Its something you could try just not for competition.

Great bark on a Brisket many BBQ Competition Cooks are going back to offsets for this category.  Offsets make a better bark on Brisket than other types of cookers.

Tender Quick is used on Brisket to make a larger smoke ring.BBQ Brisket Tender Quick can make the smoker ring to large.  It can make the whole Brisket the color of a smoke ring.  Tender Quick put on a Brisket is put on very lightly. Leave the Brisket in for 2 hours and wash it off with water to stop the smoker ring size. How do your rub a brisket that is going to have to be washed off? I don’t know? Rub, Tender Quick, cook 2 hours wash off re-Rub and move on with the cook.



Cooking Brisket

    1. Choose a good brisket, Snake River Farms Wagyu Kobe Beef Black X #1 for competition. Angus Beef #2 then Walmart Brands, Sam’s Club, Publix are a far second.
    2. Brisket have to be aged in the refrigerator. At a certain temperature, for a certain number of days. If your willing to spend enough money you can get Snake River Farms to age your brisket exactly like you want it.

      BBQ Schools

      BBQ Schools

    3. Once you choose a brisket you have to trim it. I have a least 20 videos on trimming a brisket. Some want to take the whole fat cap off. Some what to leave half of it on there. Some want to leave it all on there. Fat Cap up or Down.
    4. The grey on the edge is actually caused by the steam pasteurization process. Every side goes through either a steam chamber or a 180 degree water wash depending on the processing plant to kill any bacteria on the surface. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA images (2)
    5. I’ve seen most cooks take half the fat cap off and cut the fat off the end of the Brisket. The Burnt ends come off the large end of the brisket.
    6. There are two parts of a Brisket. The Point and The Flat. The Point is where the burnt ends come from.brisket_flat_700-e1375576346820 Cook the Brisket before you separate the top and flat. Fat is the most flavoring part of meat. Marbling it the key to flavor. After you trim the BBQ Brisket like some of the videos above, inject the brisket.
    7. What to inject with? Butcher BBQ Injection, Kosmo Q, Big Ron’s Bee Injection are the best in the business. Some Others Moore’s Marinade, Dale’s Marinade  Start off right just hit the link and order what you want.
    8. Inject at an angle every inch apart in a matrix and make sure you don’t got through the bottom. Some people want to inject from the side only its all about not letting it leak.  Hold your hand on each hole as you go along the BBQ Brisket will actually heal a little. Some people add bacon fat to the injection I’m not sure how good that would be.
    9. Once you got it injected its time to rub it down. It needs to be a beef base rub not a red rub.
    10. Once you rub it down put it in a 3 gallon or a 5 gallon Zip Lock Bag. They sell them at Lowe’s.  Put it in the ice cooker, refrigerator over night. Put them in there at least a few hours.
    11. When you get it out let it come back to room temperature and coat it with another coat of rub. Then put it on the smoker at 300 degrees. Leave it there for 4 hours. Some people will put it in a pan and cook it with no tin foil over the pan.  Then take it out. Don’t look at it as it will cause your temp to vary and change your cooking time.
    12. Watch out that you do not punch any wholes in the brisket crust. Ever piece of BBQ will crust and right under the surface is all the juice. If you puncture or break that you’ll see the juice just run out of it.

      BBQ Brisket

      BBQ Brisket

    13. When you take it out set it on two large pieces of tin foil. Sprinkle another coat of rub on the brisket top and bottom. In this case use tin foil as your pan. Tin foil will keep the marinade touching the whole brisket and a pan will simply let the bottom set in the marinade. Roll the 4 corners of the tin foil up as to make it into a bowl. Pour in Guava Nectar, the liquid you had in the pan. Put the rest of your Butcher BBQ injection into the tin foil.  Try to fill the foil till the liquid is over the brisket.
    14. The Stall- While cooking your BBQ Brisket and the temperature is rising the liquid in the meat will go from an even distribution to the outside edge of the Brisket. The transition of this liquid will cause the Brisket Temp to appear to stall. Don’t raise the Temperature of your pit just ignore it and let it cook.
    15. Everyone I’ve ever seen always cooks the fat cap up. Now take two pieces of tin foil to reinforce each other and put it on the tin foil like a lid. roll it into each side of the lower tin foil to make a bowl and leave the two corner with a little vent. Put it back in the cooker at 275 degrees. Leave it cook for 2 hours.
    16. The comes the tricky part. Take it back out and separate the top from the flat. There is a crossing piece of fat between the flat and the top. Cut down that fat to separate the two. Video A Then take the top and cut it into burnt ends. The Burnt ends are made out of The Point. The point being the big end that comes more to a point. The Flat is where the carved piece come from that are 8 1/2 inches ling for a perfect box
    17. Put the burnt ends you cut up into a pan and add some of the juice from the cook. Then put some of your favorite BBQ Sauce on the burn ends and put them back into the smoker with no foil just in a pan.
    19. 535939_4647454916364_1996004481_nChop’s Power Injector System!The tank on the 1/2 gallon Chops Power Injector holds up to a 1/2 Gallon of your favorite injection fluid. It has FOUR large bore needles spaced out at the perfect distance.Out of the box you will find the Injector fully assembled all you have to do is clean it with HOT soapy water and bleach. Then flush it with clean hot water until all the soap and bleach is gone! (Make sure you do this before and after EACH use)When your ready to inject, fill your injector at least a 1/4 full with your injection, pump up, and pull the trigger! You will notice whatever you are injecting will quickly start to expand as if you are filling a football with air!!! That’s POWER!

      Chop’s 1 gallon Injector


      Chops Power Injector


      Injecting your BBQ is important. It makes a difference. Citric Fruit Juice contains ascorbic acid that will help break down the collagen. Inject everything, it will build the flavor.

      When injecting size up if your needle will go through the bottom of the meat because of the length. Hold the injector at and angle so the needle is sure not to make it that deep. Hold your fingers over the injection point for a second and the meat will heal and hold the injection.

      There are a few choices to using an injector. Injectors can be pumps where you do not have to continue to fill the chamber or needles where you have to fill the chamber.

      There are pumps where you fill you fill up a 1 gallon container and pump air into it. BBQ Meat injectors like the one with 4 needles on one injector down the page.


      Are you ready to start increasing your competition scores or maybe you’re just ready to make some great tasting  BBQ for friends and family…you can accomplish both with this award winning pork injection!! The concentrated sweet smoke Q Juice will enhance the natural flavor in any pork product, from chops to  butts, leaving you with a mouthwatering juicy piece of meat!

      16 fl oz bottle will be enough to inject 30 lbs of pork

      download (7)

      BBQ Brisket

      BBQ Brisket

  1. Then take it out and put tin foil over it and put it in the Cambro and let it rest for 15-30 minutes. Its about juice being on the outside edge moving back into the center of the meat.
  2. Then take the fat off the flat and cut into serving pieces of BBQ Brisket. Put them in a competition box or put them on a pan then re-hydrate them with the juice out of the foil. That juice will bring it back to temperature and keep moist.
  3. Now get the burnt ends out and put them in the competition box or put them on the serving pan. You could chop up what ever pieces you have left to serve them also.
  4. The ideal finish temperature of a brisket is between 190-210 degrees.
  5. Lot of talk about how much BBQ Sauce to put on Brisket some say none if its got enough injection and rub. Thats up to you.
  6. Cutting a BBQ Brisket to serve is a serious matter. You have to cut against the grain. If you cut with the grain you just made pot luck. If you cut against the grain you made beautiful carved pieces.
  7. If you really want to learn about Pro BBQ Learn from the Pro’s Pit Bulls Up in Smoke Online BBQ School. Danny Coogle has his process down to a real detailed process. This is just general information.
  8. If you build a Brisket Box in KCBS and cut the pieces of Brisket more than 1/4 of and inch think there gonna say the Brisket is over cooked. Its a line of thought out there that if you cut it bigger than 1/4 in width your compensating for it being falling apart done.
  9. If you don’t cut it across the grain for a BBQ Contest and make those thin pieces as shown above you may as well not turn it in.
  10. Burnt Ends have to be real burnt ends. I heard at the NBBQA some important people say that gum balls of Brisket being put back in the cookers is not real burnt ends.  The point is the burnt ends, put it back in there and make real burnt ends. The point part of the brisket.

BBQ Brisket

All about Grills on BBQSuperStars

BBQ Brisket

Video A                                                   Cambro

10 Standards of Certified Angus Beef

Marbling and Maturity


Modest or higher marbling – for the taste that ensures customer satisfaction


Medium or fine marbling texture – the white “flecks of flavor” in the beef that ensure consistent flavor and juiciness in every bite


Only the youngest classification of product qualifies as “A” maturity – for superior color, texture and tenderness

Consistent Sizing


10- to 16-square-inch ribeye area


Less than 1,000-pound hot carcass weight


Less than 1-inch fat thickness

Quality Appearance and Tenderness


Superior muscling(restricts influence of dairy cattle)


Practically free of capillary ruptures(ensures the most visually appealing steak)


No dark cutters(ensures the most visually appealing steak)


No neck hump exceeding 2 inches(safeguards against cattle with more variability in tenderness)

The USDA grade shields are highly regarded as symbols of safe, high-quality American beef.  Quality grades are widely used as a “language” within the beef industry, making business transactions easier and providing a vital link to support rural America. Consumers, as well as those involved in the marketing of agricultural products, benefit from the greater efficiency permitted by the availability and application of grade standards.

Beef is evaluated by highly-skilled USDA meat graders using a subjective characteristic assessment process and electronic instruments to measure meat characteristics. These characteristics follow the official grade standards developed, maintained and interpreted by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Beef is graded in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness and flavor; and yield grades for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass. From a consumer standpoint, what do these quality beef grades mean?

Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking such as broiling, roasting or grilling.

Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are suited for dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if braised, roasted or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.

Select beef is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.

Standard and Commercial grades of beef are frequently sold as ungraded or as store brand meat. Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades of beef are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

Recently, USDA collaborated with the United States Meat Export Federation and Colorado State University to develop an educational video about the beef grading process. This video provides a comprehensive overview of the beef grading system – from farm to table.

So next time you are at a restaurant or grocery store, look for the USDA grade shield and you will better be able to answer the question, “What’s your beef?”

– See more at:




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