For those of you that follow me on Instagram (@learningtosmoke), you may have seen my IG story back in late April/early May when I made the trip to Wooster, Ohio for the BBQ Summit at Certified Angus Beef headquarters. To be honest, initially I was indifferent on going to this event. I’m traveling to Ohio in April? I’m going to tour facilities? Yay.
But then I spoke with my friend Christie Vanover at www.girlscangrill.com and she filled me in on some of the details I was missing: 1) we get to go in their lab and get hands-on with butchering a quarter cow, and 2) the lineup of folks coming to this event. I thought it was just a few social media folks, but that was the tip of the iceberg. Big names in barbecue such as Kent and Barrett Black from Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, TX, Chris Lilly (Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q), Amy Mills (17th Street BBQ), Anthony DiBernardo (Swig & Swine BBQ), Ray Lampe (Dr. BBQ), and John Lewis (Lewis Barbecue, previously from La Barbecue in Austin) were gonna be there. So, I GET to travel to Ohio in April? YAY!
The event was a blast! Not only do I get to hang out among these legendary pit masters and fellow BBQ bloggers such as Christie, Mikey May (www.manmeatbbq.com), and Malcolm Reed (www.howtobbqright.com), but we get to eat some of the tastiest meals served up by some chefs who are passionate about their craft. Tomahawk ribeye? Check. Prime rib? Check. Cowboy fondue (sirloin steaks cooked on pitchforks) with doughnuts for breakfast? Check. Braised beef with bone marrow and Asian-infused split shank on steamed bao buns? Check. They had salad too, but whatever.
Another highlight was going to the meat lab and being instructed by meat scientist Diana Clark on how to cut up a quarter cow. We were divided into groups and each of our groups were given a quarter cow (front quarter), some boning knives, and a saw (as well as lab coats and gloves to stay sanitary) and taken to school. Doing this helped me better understand where certain cuts come from, why they get their tenderness (or toughness in some cases), and which cuts I should definitely try out when I get home (such as the chuck eye steak).
I feel I should also note that we went back to the meat lab the next day and learned about some cuts in the hind quarters of the cow. Some I am familiar with (such as the tri-tip), and some I need to try (such as hanger steak and ball tip steak).
Another thing we did in the meat lab was make beef sausage. I teamed up with the likes of Greg and Kristina Gaardbo from Chicago Culinary Kitchen and Kent and Barrett Black (Black’s Barbecue) to make a “hamburger sausage” using a blend of ground brisket, ribeye, and chuck. We also had cheese, pickles, and onions in there to make it taste like a classic cheeseburger. It. Was. Awesome!
On the last day we headed out to a Certified Angus Beef farm and got to meet the farming family, see their Angus cows, and hear about how their practices to help the cows grow and live healthy lives. This is also where we were treated to the Cowboy Fondue and doughnuts all cooked in their cauldrons on site. Hot and fresh and oh so delicious!
I can’t believe I was able to be in attendance to learn so much about the many cuts of beef and rub elbows with some of the best in the world of barbecue. Many thanks to the folks at Certified Angus Beef for inviting me!