My family usually goes right to the source for meat purchases, but on the occasion that I am camped in front of a grocer’s meat counter, I gaze at many offerings available.
I am by no means a meat expert, but I am drawn to a cut of meat that has good coloring, the right amount of marbling and even some fat on the perimeter. I need to trust my eye for what I think my stomach, and those of my family and friends, will appreciate later on.
National Pork Board offers tips on how to pick a pork chop, as well as how to properly prepare your favorite pork cuts. But if you don’t want to take the time, or use up your data plan, to log on to Pork.org, the meat cutter behind the counter of your favorite store should be able to guide you on your meat-buying spree.
Selecting the best cut of meat is a true art form, if not a sport. Actually, on some college campuses, meat judging may be the highest profile activity. In May of this year, the national sporting magazine Sports Illustrated gave intercollegiate meat judging royal treatment with a multi-page spread, mixed right in with other sports news of the week of professional basketball and baseball.
At the center of the lengthy SI feature was the team from Texas Tech, but love was also shone to Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Colorado State and Kansas State. Focusing on the Texas Tech team was merited as earlier this month, the Texas Tech team went Down Under to represent the United States at an international meat judging competition. The Red Raiders did not disappoint the Red, White and Blue, as the team was named the 2019 Australian Collegiate Meat Judging Championship Team.
The local Lubbock, Texas, TV station KCBD even blended this meat fete in with more traditional sports such as NBA Summer League and the national overall standing of athletic teams during a recent Sports Xtra segment.
Arby’s may claim that “we have the meats,” but the Texas Tech Red Raiders know their meats.
Not only do these collegiate meat judges need to have a good eye, just like you and I at the grocer’s meat case, but they also have to be able to explain why one cut of meat is better than the rest. A simple, “I just like the way it looks,” may cut it for your family, but not in this arena (or meat cooler as the case may be) when you’re up against the best of the best collegiate meat judges.
For some of the students making up the meat judging teams, the year that they spend on the team will be the end of the road in their assessment of meat, other than coming in handy for their future personal trips to the meat counter. Yet others will make meat their career, going to work for a meat packer to ensure that their meat knowledge will be passed along to consumer in the form of optimum cuts.
Please remember, you may be the best judge of meat in world, even if you don’t have ribbons and trophies to prove it, but what you do in the kitchen or on the grill can make or break the best visual cut of meat. For pork, that means cooking to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, and letting it rest for three minutes. You too can become a meat champion in your household and neighborhood.