Pit masters across the country are being invited to “think outside the pig” and explore more options in beef.

The team at Certified Angus Beef Brand, in Wooster, Ohio, has been hard at work at their Culinary Center experimenting with applications, cuts and recipes to give smokehouses ideas to set them apart and help their margins.

Brisket and plate short ribs are the traditional items for Texas-style beef barbecue.  However, there are several less-utilized “opportunity cuts,” according to Corporate Meat Scientist Diana Clark.

Bone-in chuck short ribs vs. plate short ribs:

Chuck Short Ribs
4 rib bones, found closer to the head
Plate Short Ribs
3 bones found beneath the ribs

Using bone-in chuck short ribs is less expensive than the more commonly used plate short ribs.  It is less “impressive” because of the smaller bone, but that does make them meatier.

Chuck roll

Chuck Roll
Trim Loss 1%
Cook Loss 37%

In-house chefs, Ashley Breneman and Michael Ollier have worked a lot with this cut as a newer alternative. Traditionally, this cut, which contains the muscles of the short rib and under blade, is used for ground beef or sausage. But the creative team is working it into things like enchiladas.  It’s said to have phenomenal flavor, comparable to brisket. And it’s appealing for its minimal trim, which cuts down on waste.

Through their work exploring different cuts, Breneman and Clark suggest cutting it into 3 – 5 lb. chunks for smoking advantages. They say it provides better smoke penetration, and a quicker cook.

The Certified Angus Beef Brand team also suggests using ball tip, and the knuckle (just a larger version of the ball tip) for shredded beef. Or serve up “Caveman Style” riblets.

Tri-tip Roast

Tri –Tip
20% cook loss

Outside of California, not too many smokehouses are using tri-tip, but it’s clearly an underutilized cut in the BBQ world. Pricing is about half way between brisket and plate short ribs, and slightly less than chuck short ribs. It can be cold smoked and finished on a grill. This gives pitmasters an appealing option if they are getting close to selling out of the product they have smoked all day.

These average 1.5-4 pounds per piece. This cut is readily available. It is gaining in popularity on the East Coast, where it can be referred to as Newport Steak when it’s cut into individual steaks. But there, the application has been more for sandwiches and less for BBQ. It’s also popular for chili because of its tenderness.

Price points

Ball Tip
Trim Loss 0%
Cook Loss 32%
Bottom Round Flat
Trim Loss 0%
Cook Loss 31%
Trim Loss 0%
Cook Loss 32%

Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, SC, uses Prime USDA beef for their whole briskets and also work with beef ribs, and beef back ribs, all sourced from Certified Angus Beef. “I really like the fat consistency on prime cuts; it has a lower melting which allows us to cook it longer without it drying out,” says John Lewis.

John Lewis Pitmaster at Lewis Barbecue, Charleston, SC

Lewis says their brisket is consistently their number one seller. Nearly every week they sell out of it there.

“We only serve the beef ribs on Saturdays and those sell out really quickly too,” Lewis said.

The distinct taste appeals to Lewis, who gets all of his beef product from Certified Angus Beef Brand, through Sysco.

“The taste is super juicy and beefy,” Lewis said.

Ready to introduce more beef to your BBQ menu? Here are a couple of applications developed and tested by the kitchen team at Certified Angus Beef Brand.

Braised Chuck Roll in Enchilada sauce –
YIELD: 1 chuck roll
1 whole Certified Angus Beef chuck roll
½ gal. Mild enchilada sauce
6 whole yellow onions
6 pack of lager beer – your choice

1. Season the chuck roll generously with salt and pepper.
2. On a grill or in a frying pan, sear all sides of the chuck roll to deep golden brown.
3. While chuck roll is searing, chunk onions into large pieces and cover the bottom of hotel pan.
4. Once meat is seared, place whole chuck roll on top of onions in baking dish and pour enchilada sauce and beer over the meat.
5. Cover with tin foil and place in oven at 300 degrees for 12 hours.
6. Once finished cooking, make sure the beef shreds easily with a fork. Add to any pasta dish or make tacos with it!
Santa Maria Tri Tip Rub

YIELD: enough rub for 5 tri tips
1 cup granulated garlic
1 cup granulated Onion
½ cup granulated honey
¼ cup black pepper
¼ cup salt

1. Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Rub generous amount of dry rub on raw tri tip, let sit in cooler over night before cooking.