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Understanding Marbling in Beef

Understanding Marbling in Beef

What is Marbling?

Marbling is a unique pattern of white intramuscular fat in meat that creates what is known as the "marbling effect." This intramuscular fat impacts the flavor, tenderness, and texture, especially in red meat. It is important to not get intramuscular and intermuscular fat mixed up. While the intramuscular fat provides tenderness and flavor to the meat, intermuscular fat does not not enhance the flavor and is usually removed from the meat. 

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USDA Meat Marbling Chart

Grading Meat Marbling:

- In the U.S., Australia, and Japan, human graders are used to visually inspect the quality of meat. The amount and distribution of the white fat flecks in the meat is used to determine the meat's overall grade. 

- In the United States, the U.S.D.A has 8 grades that beef can be classified into. Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner. Meat graded Prime will have the highest levels of marbling and will be considered top of the line. Meat graded at the lowest levels, like utility, cutter, and canner, are most often used for ground beef.

What Factors Affect the Marbling in Meat?

The amount of marbling in meat is determined by a combination of factors:

  • Breed - Some breeds have a natural tendency to be more marbled. Breeds such as the Kuroge-washu, which give us Wagyu beef,  have a higher quantity of intramuscular fat that produces higher levels of marbling and higher levels of healthy fats (higher in Omega-3's compared to Omega-6 fats). American Angus and Herefords are breeds also known to produce quality marbling. 
  • Type of Feed - A cow's feed plays a vital role in the overall marbling and quality of meat that is produced. Cattle that are underfed, or fed an inferior feed, will not gain weight properly...marbling will disappear from the muscles quickly and can be difficult to restore if it has gone too far into decline. Cattle that consume a diet of grains often marble more easily than those whose food consists only of grass. However, cattle kept specifically on feedlots and fed grass pellets may not receive the exercise or nutrients needed to create the levels of marbling found in grass fed cattle that feed on open range and pastureland.
  • Age at Slaughter - Age is an important factor when it comes to the quality of beef. As a general rule, young cattle, or Veal, will have less marbling due to the fact that intramuscular fat is the last to develop. This means that younger cattle will normally have less flavor and be less tender...older cattle may have less marbling as well due the loss of intramuscular muscle and fat as they age. Depending on how they are fed, cattle can be ready to butcher somewhere between 14-36 months of age.

The level of marbling in your meat will also be determined by it's location on the cattle. Areas of the cattle in which the muscle are used less, such as the loin, will produce more fat and therefore more marbling. Lean muscle, like in the legs and rump, produces less fat and less marbling. It is simple science.

Chef John and Steaks

 What makes Marbling Important?

Marbling is important because it is what makes your favorite steaks juicy and flavorful. It keeps them moist during cooking, so that natural juices don't evaporate in the pan like they would if there were no marbling at all! Overcooking will result with all of this fat being cooked away - leaving you with a dry, tough steak, not the juicy, tender steak you expect. 


Fifth and Cherry Cutting Boards
Fifth and Cherry Cutting Boards. Hand Crafted. Superior Quality

How to judge marbling for yourself?

Wagyu Steak

When shopping for or attempting to judge the quality of meat for yourself, as with anything, it takes time and practice. The more meat you buy and test out, the better you will get at being able to pick out the best cuts. If you are looking for higher quality meat, you need to look for finer marbling, which will produce smaller white flecks of fat more evenly distributed through the meat and give you the tenderness and juiciness that so many people love. Wagyu beef, like in the image just above, is known to have higher levels of marbling with more even distribution of intramuscular fat, making it one of the highest quality cuts of meat you can buy.

USDA Meat Grade Scale

Meat with medium quality marbling will not produce the same tender and juicy flavor as meat with finer marbling. When the fat pieces become larger and less evenly spread throughout the meat, it becomes more difficult to properly cook the meat. The bigger the pieces of fat, the longer they will take to properly render, often resulting in an overcooked steak. This issue only becomes worse as the quality of marbling degrades and the fat becomes larger and even more unevenly spread. So be sure to keep this in mind when picking your next steak.

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A Guide to Wagyu

A Guide to Wagyu


Wagyu CowWhat is Wagyu?

Wagyu is a type of cow traditionally bred in Japan. The term literally means Japanese (Wa) cow (gyu). Throughout history, the cows were used as work animals, pulling and carrying heavy loads, allowing them to develop great strength and endurance. This heavy workload also directly resulted in Wagyu developing large amounts of intramuscular fat for easily accessible energy. It is this intramuscular fat that give Wagyu beef its beautiful marbling.

Today, the breeding of Wagyu beef is a highly regulated industry in Japan. A DNA system is used to track the cows from their birth to slaughter, insuring the highest quality beef is produced. Due to the strict breeding regulations, Wagyu cattle are not typically allowed to be imported into the United States. 

According to WagyuInternational.com, the first exports to the U.S. came in 1976, followed by fewer than 200 Wagyu cattle that were brought to the United States between 1993 and 1997. It is mainly from these cattle that the American Wagyu industry was born and continues to grow today. While very few ranches throughout the United State breed full-blooded Wagyu, there has been extensive cross breeding between Wagyu and American Hereford and Angus, creating what is sold and known as American Wagyu today. 

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What makes Wagyu Stand Out?

The deliciously rich and tender meat from highly marbled Wagyu cattle makes for a dining experience that is unrivalled in its flavors. It turns up at Gourmet restaurants across the US, not only because it's delicious but also healthy - experts have discovered that Wagyu contains more mono-unsaturated fats than saturated ones. According to the American Wagyu Association, unlike other beef, the saturated fat found in Wagyu also contains high levels of stearic acid, which reduces the impact the beef has on cholesterol levels. Wagyu is also known to contain about 30% more CLA (conjugated linoleic acid ), a type of fatty acid that is known to "have fewer negative health effects." (American Wagyu Association)

US Wagyu

Founded in Texas in 1990, the American Wagyu Association tracks and registers Wagyu cattle throughout the U.S. and Canada. Headquartered in Post Falls, ID, the AWA and its membership base work to "promote and develop a sustainable industry here in the US." (American Wagyu Association) Wagyu cattle offer endless opportunity here in the U.S. to develop quality, healthier meat.

Wagyu Meat Grades - Beef Marbling Standard

 BMS Scale

Most Wagyu you find will be classified into 2 different grades; either 6-8 BMS or 9-12 BMS. The higher the number on the BMS scale, the higher the level of marbling in the meat. According to the American Wagyu Association, some Wagyu cattle have such an "abnormally high level" of marbling that they exceed the top U.S.D.A. grade of Prime. Deciding which grade to use, whether you are competing or are just wanting to try something top shelf at home, really depends on the preference of each individual. It really comes down to how much fat content/marbling you prefer.

To learn more about how to grade and understand the marbling in Wagyu, click here.

Click Here to Download the 2022 Breeder's Guide and Find Out Where to Purchase Wagyu Beef

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Making Wagyu Brisket: 

Do to the higher levels of fat content (marbling), cooking a Wagyu brisket is a little different than a regular prime or CAB brisket. It is also much more expensive. A 13 lb. American Wagyu brisket from The Wagyu Shop will cost you over $140. However, if you have the money, or just want to splurge, the taste and flavor will be worth every penny. 

The higher level of marbling may also mean you may need to cook your brisket for a longer period of time, allowing it to reach temperatures up to as high as 215 F. I highly recommend having a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature throughout the cooking process. Injecting the brisket and adding the proper spice rubs throughout is essential to the cooking process of any brisket, and Wagyu is no exception. If you are new to bbq'ing or making brisket, I would not recommend starting off with Wagyu. The cost alone will most like be a deterrent. However, if you are someone who competes or are a serious backyard chef, Wagyu brisket is sure to impress. And as with anything, the more you make it, the better you will get and the better your brisket will taste.

American Wagyu Beef

Overall, Wagyu is a healthier, higher quality beef than traditional American Hereford or Angus. Due to its high quality, as well as the limited number of full-blooded Wagyu in America, it can be extremely expensive (Japanese Wagyu costs more than American Wagyu), with some steaks costing upwards of $200 per pound. Even ground beef will run you more than $10 per lb., although the benefits over other beef makes it well worth the money. If you are looking for meat that is guaranteed to impress at your next competition or family gathering, Wagyu is definitely the way to go. 

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Baking Steel: The Original Baking Steel

Baking Steel: The Original Baking Steel

One of my favorite cookbooks of all time is “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking” by Maxime Bilet and Nathan Myhrvold. If you have never read it, I highly recommend it. And it just so happens that this award-winning cookbook also helped inspire one of my favorite companies and products, Baking Steel. Founded in 2012, Baking Steel offers a wide variety of amazing products and accessories that are perfect whether you are cooking over a live fire, on a pellet grill, with charcoal, gas, or even in the kitchen oven. To put it simply, Baking Steel rocks. 

I have been using Baking Steel for over 5 years now. American owned and operated, all Baking Steel products are made in the U.S.A. with American Steel. The Original Baking Steel (use coupon code "DUDEFOODFIRE" to receive 10% off your purchase) was my 1st purchase and it still works as amazing as it did 5 years ago. The Baking Steel Mini Griddle is another of my absolute favorites and can be used with any type of cooking method as well. I also use a special mini Baking Steel made specifically to fit inside my Ooni Piizza Oven!

To learn more about Baking Steel and all the amazing ways it can change your life, check out the book "Baking with Steel: The Revolutionary New Approach to Perfect Pizza, Bread, and More," by Andris Lagsdin. Lagsdin, the creator and founder of Baking Steel. I promise, his book and product will absolutely change how you cook and the things you are able to make. With Baking Steel, you are only limited by your imagination. 

Original Baking Steel in the OvenBaking Steel's quality and products are second to none. To make a crispy, delicious homemade pizza using the Original Baking Steel, place the Baking Steel on the top rack of the oven and let it preheat for 1 hour at 500 F. Place your pizza directly on the Baking Steel and let cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, slice and serve. It will be the absolute best pizza you have ever made at home.
Baking Steel Griddle Product ImageWhether you are making pizza, bread, bacon, steak...even potatoes...Baking Steel will get the job done. I have used Baking Steel for over 5 years and know I will continue to use them for years to come. Nothing compares to Baking Steel's quality and performance.
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If you are looking for a pizza dough recipe to get started, check out my blog post on King Arthur '00' Pizza Flour. (This blog contains affiliate links)
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5-Tips to Open Fire Cooking

5-Tips to Open Fire Cooking

Men, veterans and brave women- if you are looking for a new cooking routine, open fire cooking is the perfect choice! It's not just about s'mores anymore. You can do so much more with open fire cooking to create flavors that would be otherwise impossible via other methods.

When cooking with an open fire, you can experiment with new flavors by using different types of wood. Getting interactive and social by cooking with friends around the open fire will take the experience to a whole new level. Always practice safety when cooking with an open fire. 

Here are 5-Tips to Open Fire Cooking to help you maximize your experience. 

Tip #1 - Make sure and use the right type of wood. 

  • Open fires are a great way to cook, but they require special attention while using them. Fresh green wood will not burn well and creates excessive smoke so if that's what you have access too don't waste time with it! Use seasoned hardwood instead.
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Tip #2 - Don't Be Impatient

When the flames die down and there's no longer any burning wood logs to burn off excess moisture from fatty meats like pork belly (or chicken wings), that means we're ready!
  • A decent sized hot coal bed should already exist in order make sure everything gets cooked evenly throughout its surface area; this usually takes 30-45 minutes depending on weather conditions. 
  • - A decent fire is generally made up of hot coals and only a few burning wood logs

- Flames are NOT an indication that the fire is ready to be cooked with
 -30 to 45 minutes might be necessary to burn down to the appropriate conditions, depending on the fire and weather conditions.
-To get the best result from your fire, allow it to burn slowly. This will give you hot coals without any direct flame and makes for an easier way of cooking. The size of the fire also matters; beginners often try building large fires when they should really be learning about small ones which burn slowly and steadily over time.

Open fire cooking can be a romantic experience for date night or a fun way to add some flare and fun to family night. 

Be sure to allow plenty of time to have a good fire going before you start cooking. Don't rush the fun.

If you're running low on wood and can't seem to get the fire burning right, try starting with some smaller pieces first. The best way is by using kindling as your starter fire for 30 minutes before adding more larger logs when needed!

The best way to start your fire is with an old lighter or matches - only use natural materials. Once the tinder is lit place kindling in form of thin sticks no thicker than pencils and watch them ignite as soon as it gets warm enough! As more fuel catches on flame larger branches should be added into teepee shapes over top If you are cooking something large, start with a small fire and build up as you go. If you start with too large of a fire you will just burn the meat. If you are cooking with a grate, remember to rotate the food to ensure even cooking. 

Tip #3 - Do not cook directly over an open flame

Open Fire Cooking Image 3
When we were children, our parents taught us to roast a hot dog or marshmallow over an open flame as if it was the most natural thing in this world. The truth is, cooking your meat this way will just result in a burnt meal. The key is to create 2 sides to your fire pit; one side with fire and one side where you move the hot coals. Use the flames for roasting and boiling, while using the hot coals for grilling your meat.
Tip #4 - DO Try Cooking Directly on the Coals:
Some foods can be cooked directly on top of the coals. Wrap your veggies in aluminum foil and throw them directly on the coals, or throw a piece of meat or some potatoes in a cast-iron skillet. Make sure your coals are hot enough to cook on. 

Tip #5 - Be sure not to overcook the food:

Grilling is the king of all cooking methods. Nothing makes a man feel more like a dude. And open-fire cooking takes the dudeness to the next level. Here is something to keep in mind to make sure you do not cook your food for too long.

  • The carryover cooking of the food can last for up to 20 minutes. The trick is to remove the food right before you think it is done, and allow it to finish cooking during the resting period.

The key to open fire cooking, as with anything, is practice. The more you do it, the better you will become. So light the fire, get cooking, and have fun.

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Butcher Knives: A Quick Guide

Butcher Knives: A Quick Guide

A good butcher knife is necessary for any aspiring chef. With the different cuts of meat and fish, a quality, well-sharpened blade is essential for preparing the meat properly and maintaining all its qualities. These varying cuts of meat also mean that there is a variety of knives to choose from, depending on the task at hand. Below, we will take a look at a few of the different types and what they are most commonly used for.

Traditional Butcher Knife

Traditional butcher knives are often large, heavy, and strong, can easily skirt around bones without breaking or chipping the edge The wide blade and curved tip allow for cutting through thick pieces of meat with ease.


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Skinning Knife

The skinning knife has a wide, curved blade that is ideal for performing necessary cuts when gutting and skinning animals. The blade curves upward, allowing complete control when cutting through tough hides. The blunt end of the blade helps prevent you from puncturing any of the animal’s insides while skinning.


The cimeter knife is a large type of butcher's blade with a long and curved design used for cutting large pieces of meat into smaller pieces, such as steak. It can also be used to trim fat from larger cuts of meat as well.


 Meat CleaverMeat Cleaver

The meat cleaver is a heavy-duty knife made to withstand hacking and chopping. With a wide blade and flat tip, the meat cleaver is made to cut through large pieces of meat, bone, and cartilage without too much effort…this knife is designed to work based on the strength of your blows.


Boning Knife

A boning knife is what most people think about when thinking "Butcher Knife". This type has been specially designed to remove meat and flesh from bone with minimal incisions. A boning knife has many different forms, each designed to meet a specific need. The most common type is curved and flexible so it can bend around corners when removing meat, leaving you with a nice, clean bone.

Steak Knife

What is the best way to enjoy a juicy, delicious steak? With a knife that can cut through it easily and without squeezing out all those amazing juices! A good quality serrated or straight-edged blade will do just fine for slicing up any kind of steak or meaty dish you might want. You can never go wrong with a quality, properly sharpened steak knife.


 Tips for properly caring for your knives:

  • To avoid scratching the steel and opening the knives to corrosion, always use a soft sponge when cleaning your knives.

  • To avoid corrosion, do not soak knives in sink.

  • Store your knives away from other kitchen utensils to avoid the scratching and damage that could happen. Use a knife block or other form of storage to keep your knives separate.

  • A dull knife is a dangerous and frustrating tool that can lead to unnecessary problems. To avoid this, you should honor your knives by regularly sharpening them. This will allow you to cut through meat fibers with precision instead of tearing them up!

Knowing which knife is right depends on the job at hand. Be sure to choose a knife that is the right size for the job and one that fits comfortably in your hand. To properly prepare and serve the best quality meat, be sure and use top quality knives. Having the proper tool changes the entire experience!

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Ooni Karu 12 Multi-fuel Pizza Oven

Ooni Karu 12 Multi-fuel Pizza Oven

If you are a pizza lover like me, then there are probably few products that will make you as excited as the Ooni Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven. I mean, what could be better than a portable pizza oven that heats up in 15 minutes and cooks "fresh stone-baked pizza in just 60 seconds?" Let me answer that for you...nothing...there is nothing better.
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Bella Grande 32 Wood-Fired Pizza Oven

Bella Grande 32 Wood-Fired Pizza Oven

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(This Blog Contains Affiliate Links)

I'm a pretty big fan of pizza. Like, really big fan. I could eat it every day and never get sick of it. So when I had the opportunity to purchase the Bella Grande 32 Wood-Fired Pizza Oven, I was all in.

Bella Grande 32 Wood Fired Pizza OvenBella Grande 32Bella Grande 32 Wood Fired Pizza Oven
This oven is legit…you can cook 4 12-inch pizzas at once. The Bella Grande 32 boasts a 32 x 24 cooking surface made of a high-grade ceramic “designed to heat, recover & bake using less wood than a traditional brick oven.” The rest of the oven is constructed of 304 stainless steel and provides great durability. Oh yeah, and it is manufactured right here in the U.S.A.

I have owned my Bella Grande 32 for 4 years and have loved every moment of it. It’s design, durability, and performance all exceed expectations. Whether you are cooking breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner, the Bella Grande 32 Wood-fired Oven is the perfect outdoor kitchen. If you love cooking with fire, the Bella Grande 32 is an amazing oven.

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The Bella Grande 32 “components are warrantied to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for two (2) years from date of shipment, including oven body, floor, venting system, factory-installed finishes, stand, door, and accessories. The internal dome welds are covered under the warranty for five (5) years.”

As I said before, I have owned my Bella Grande 32 for 4 years and have experienced no issues. It is efficient, is easy to set up, and adds an awesome dimension to your home patio or outdoor space. I love the look of the Bella Grande 32 as much as I love its efficiency. I highly recommend you get yours today.

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Solo Stove Ranger: Product Review

Solo Stove Ranger: Product Review

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Whether you are thinking about going camping, visiting the beach, or are just looking for a backyard fire-pit, then look no further than the Ranger, from Solo Stove. This compact, portable, wood-burning fire-pit is one of my favorite new products. Solo Stove’s Signature 360-degree Airflow Design makes the Ranger an extremely efficient fire-pit that produces a very minimal amount of smoke. The design of the airflow helps the fire burn more evenly as well, leaving almost nothing but ash, which makes for nice and easy clean-up.  To put it simply, the Ranger from Solo Stove does not fail to impress. Whether you are talking about packaging, portability, storage, or ease of use, the Ranger is top of the line. Oh yeah, and it has a Lifetime Guarantee.

First off, let me say I was very impressed with how my new Solo Stove came packaged. It was very well protected, but not to frustrating to get into. Being so compact and portable, it didn’t require a ton of packaging so there isn’t a ton of mess to clean up. And the set up was probably easier than getting it out of the box (you can watch the set up in the video above). You can go from in the box to ready to light in 5 minutes.

The Ranger is both portable and easy to store. It can be brought on camping trips or outings without taking up too much space, and at only 15 lbs., it can be moved short distances with ease. A convenient carrying case is provided for both trips and storage at home as well. 

Another great thing about the Ranger from Solo Stove is the ease of use. The Signature 360-degree Airflow design not only makes starting a fire easy, but it also helps make sure the fire stays burning and burns with minimal amounts of smoke. Once you get the fire going, all you have to do is sit back and watch the amazing flames. The fire ring on top helps keep the flame contained and provides nice concentrated heat for roasting marshmallows, warming your hands, or even cooking dinner.  If you are using it at home, or on property you don’t want to burn, you can also purchase a stand to keep the Ranger off the ground.

Being a Dude, who loves food, and cooking with fire, my favorite part of the Solo Stove Ranger are the available grill and griddle attachments. I mean, there is nothing like cooking over an open fire, and having that option in a convenient, easy to pack and carry fire-pit is unbelievable. Solo Stove offers cast iron grill, wok, and griddle attachments which can be purchased as a bundle with the Ranger Stove, or individually. Like the Ranger Stove itself, connecting the grill attachment is extremely simple and takes almost no time.  The big question is, how does it cook?

 To test it, I used the cast-iron grill to cook some choice picana steaks. The key to cooking with the Ranger is letting the fire burn down. If you try and cook on it too soon, the flames will simply burn the food. However, once you the let the coals get just right, the Ranger becomes an awesome grill. With 14.25 in. of cooking surface diameter, and the concentrated heat provided by the signature airflow, the Ranger had no trouble passing the test (see pics below).

Ranger from Solo Stove
Overall, the Ranger from Solo Stove exceeded expectations. It is easy to transport, easy to use, and provides a beautiful fire. As an added bonus, with the grill, wok, or griddle attachment, the Ranger can become an open fire kitchen. Whether you are someone who likes to travel, camp, or just sit around a nice fire on a cool evening, I would highly recommend the Ranger from Solo Stove.




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