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where to buy best cuts for bbq (not grilling)

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  • scuzm Aug 7, 2008 08:39 AM

hey hounds.

i'm cooking low and slow with smoke, but i've been less than impressed with the meat selections at the local albertsons.

where can i go to get a real cut of:

brisket?

pork ribs?

beef ribs?

pork shoulder?

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  1. Where do you live and how far are you willing to drive?

    Have you tried Costco or Smart & Final?
    For better cuts of meat, but higher prices, check the butchers out at the Farmer's Market on Fairfax.
    If you have a How's Market in your area, check that place out. How's is a grocery store, but I've found their meat to be superior to the others. Their choice meat can approach Prime quality (they also sell Prime).

    Hope that helps.

    1 Reply
    1. re: spoggly

      Marconda Meats in the Farmer's Market is generally less pricey than Huntington Meats, and they have excellent pork. Bristol Farms is also a good source, though not cheap. How's is much stronger in the beef department than pork, in my opinion; I've actually bought some truly satisfactory shoulders at Food 4 Less and at King Ranch, a Latino chain.

    2. Brisket - Smart & Final carries packer cut brisket. Small selection, but at least they have it. Costco usually carries flats only (except during certain holidays like Passover when they bring in packers). I have a membership to Restaurant Depot. They carry the best selection of packers. Usually have both USDA Select and Choice grades, probably a dozen of each to choose from. Call them for requirements for a wholesale only membership.

      Pork ribs - I buy IBP brand spares at Costco. I don't like the frozen brand at Restaurant Depot, but if you're picky about your sizes, they do stock cases of ribs by weight (3 downs, 3 - 3.5, etc). Smart & Final carries Farmer John brand, which can be ok in a pinch.

      Beef ribs - Restaurant Depot all the way.

      Pork shoulder - I've never seen full shoulders. They aren't a popular cut around these parts. It's special order thing. Bone in pork butts I buy at Restaurant Depot. Boneless butts I buy at Coscto. Smart & Final also carries boneless butts, just a smaller selection to cherry pick from. Butts are popular cut at Chinese and Mexican markets, and sometimes, they have seriously cheap sale prices.

      1. thanks all.

        i live in los feliz, but don't mind driving too far for food since i'm in pasadena, studio city, or santa monica quite a bit.

        i'm mostly concerned with the brisket, since that's the next thing i've decided to take down on my smoker, so i'll have to check out smart & final to get the packer cut.

        5 Replies
        1. re: scuzm

          I've had great luck with the Smart n Final packer briskets on my smoker. Low and slow is the way to go! (20 - 24 hrs @ 225 - 250F)

          1. re: Grubber

            likewise. i look for the fattier pieces as well. low and slow....225 degrees for 16hrs for a 12lb slab.

            1. re: wilafur

              Smart & Final is blue chip for whole briskets. Very inexpensive -- less than $2 per pound for choice. And they leave the fat cap on so you can leave on the thickness you want for basting the meat and rendering it down to a wonderfully seasoned crispy crust. Note: If you are really brave, save those fat trimmings and render down -- really adds a tasty richness to oven-roasted potatoes.

              1. re: nosh

                haha, you read my mind. that's exactly why i pick the pieces with the thickest fat cap...to render down for it's decadence and artery clogging abilities. =)

          2. re: scuzm

            Have you tried the meat at Hows Market? They have a Pasadena location on E. Huntington Dr. (3035): http://hows.foodmagic.com/fmap/jsphow...

          3. Second Restaurant Depot

            2 Replies
            1. re: WSB

              How does one get into the Restaurant Depot if you are not in the restaurant business?

              1. re: bllrdfam

                Doesn't need to be a restaurant business. Any business license or some other means (business checking accounts have been accepted from people I know) will get you a membership. Call them for specifics.

            2. I've bought and bbq'ed Wagyu brisket from these guys, and it was very good:

              http://www.paradisemeats.com/beef.html

              Certainly not the cheapest option, but given the amount of time one needs to put into smoking the damn thing, the additional cost seems worth it to me.

              1. thanks for the rec's.

                i went to my albertson's butcher for the pork shoulder. i noticed that they sell pork shoulder but either cut in half or in parts, so the butcher said i would just have to call a couple days in advance to let them know that the day of, to save a couple--i bought two whole shoulders. they turned out great. (about 17 pounds total).

                albertsons also has the same brand of pork spareribs as cosco. i don't remember what the brand is, but i do remember that they were the same brand when i went to both and checked.

                will report on others as the opportunities arise.

                1. Any King Ranch Market, amazing fresh meat section