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Meat-Up in Memphis 2020

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Prime vs Choice

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  • Richard Chrz
    Club Member
    • Mar 2019
    • 787
    • La Crosse, Wi

    Prime vs Choice

    So far most of the meat I have been learning to cook I have been buying on clearance. I have a long way to go still to say I have any of this figured out past a few simple cooks of chicken or brats on the grill. But I have enough confidence built to think about treatig myself occasionally now to maybe a few better cuts here and there. I have not bought a prime cut yet. If you were to treat yourself to a prime cut, which one would you go with?
    Last edited by Richard Chrz; September 5th, 2019, 06:13 AM.
  • pkadare
    Club Member
    • Jun 2019
    • 665
    • Bobcaygeon, Ontario
    • My gear:
      22 Weber Kettle
      Napoleon PRO Charcoal Kettle Grill
      Broil King Keg
      Traeger Pro 34
      Napoleon Prestige Pro 500
      Pit Barrel Cooker

    For me, no question, standing rib roast (prime prime rib )


    • TripleB
      Club Member
      • May 2017
      • 402
      • La Crescenta
      • Jambo Backyard Smoker
        Weber Smokey Mountain (22" & 18.5")
        Portable Kitchen 360
        Portable Kitchen Grill
        Pit Barrel Cooker
        Weber "Brownie" Circa 1978 22"
        Weber Gas Grill, Silver A
        BBQ Guru ATC
        Favorite Beer: Peroni
        Favorite Sports Teams: Rams, Dodgers, Kings, UCLA Bruins

      As Pkadare, I would go with a Rib-eye. But I would also say this, buy a well marbled steak of any primal cut. The reason is that when the USDA grades beef, the only cut they look at for grading is the rib-eye. So if the rib-eye is Prime, the whole steer or hefer is Prime. Same as with Choice or Select. I’ve seen NY cuts that were labeled as Prime, but did not have the marveling that I would expect a Prime cut to have. One cut I would never buy Prime, unless it was marked down and that is a filet. Filet are generally tender because they don’t get as much use as other muscles and therefore are less marbled.


      • texastweeter
        texastweeter commented
        Editing a comment
        yep, it is graded on the marbeling of the rib primal. Age is also part of the equation.

      • Bobmcgahan
        Bobmcgahan commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm a pretty big fan of the prime grade filets you get at Costco. Half the cost and just as good as the prime filet you get at the local higher end local food market. And I think prime filet is much better than choice. Different strokes . . . .

      • Potkettleblack
        Potkettleblack commented
        Editing a comment
        To pedantic the crap out of this, it's the marbling at one specific rib, like the 13th or sth. So, not even all ribeyes from the same cow may be as marbled as prime.
    • Uncle Bob
      Club Member
      • Feb 2019
      • 151
      • Salado, Tx
      • Kamado Joe, original, now called Classic 1
        Summerset TRL44 gas grill and side sear
        RecTec 590 Stampede
        Barrel House Cooker 18c
        Cajun Grill Preaux
        EcoQue Gen 3 wood fired oven
        Camp Chef Somerset IV 4 burner propane stove
        Oklahoma Joe's Bronco

      To add, keep in mind that grading is a range not a singular point of perceived value. This overlaps with the commentary TripleB noted. Said another way, you could have a well marbled Choice graded cut (call it at the high end of the range) next to a similarly marbled Prime graded cut (call it at the low end of the range) and not have an appreciably different cooking/eating outcome. And the price would likely be better for the Choice. In part, it's training you eye/mind to know what to look for.


      • Richard Chrz
        Richard Chrz commented
        Editing a comment
        I am just now starting to really dig through my areas of selection to find the better or as you stated, the upper end of the grading I am looking at.

      • ColonialDawg
        ColonialDawg commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree with this 100%. Packer brisket is the only cut I will require to be prime.
    • Richard Chrz
      Club Member
      • Mar 2019
      • 787
      • La Crosse, Wi

      Of course I understand there are many vsriables in even just the animal it came from. I only mention it as, last weekend I was deciding on new York strps. I went with choice. Right next to the choice was prime for maybe 2 dollars more. I could see a difference in the marbling, but felt I probably could cook the choice to be pretty close to being as good as the prime by just making sure I did proper prep and cooking of them. I kind of wish I would had bought one of each, just to see on that particular cook.


      • Bob's BBQ
        Club Member
        • Jan 2016
        • 490
        • Wisconsin

        I always buy prime briskets. Any other cut I go by the look (marbling, color, etc.). Did a couple choice briskets that came out tough and dry. Never had a bad prime.


        • Richard Chrz
          Richard Chrz commented
          Editing a comment
          I was half expecting this to be the answer. I have not had enough experience in brisket yet. I have 2 choice in my freezer. Kind of thought after I have learned a bit on those that I would likely buy the next as a prime and pay attention to the difference.

        • Bob's BBQ
          Bob's BBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          You never know. People here smoke choice briskets and have pretty good results. Just watch your cook temps and times. Maybe Texas crutch with some liquid to help avoid it drying out. It's a big time investment to have results you're not happy with, and that's why I buy prime.
      • glitchy
        Club Member
        • Jul 2019
        • 366
        • Central IA
        • Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi w/Sear Box
          Weber Summit Charcoal
          Oklahoma Joe Highland
          Weber Spirit E-330
          Weber Q100
          Fireboard w/Drive

        I agree with Bob's BBQ. I've tried a couple of choice briskets again recently after doing a few prime's. Both of the choice went from not probe tender to kinda dry and crumbly in 30-60 mins. Also like prime sirloins and strips, but haven't been buying those lately since they are blade tenderized at Costco. I have to be in the sous vide mode to trust that.


        • ofelles
          Club Member
          • Jun 2018
          • 1214
          • Brentwood CA
          • Yoder YS640 on Comp cart
            Klose 20x42 Charcoal Grill
            LSG Insulated Cabinet (coming in April)
            Jumbo Joe
            VacMaster Pro 380 sealer
            FireBoard and Fan
            Thermoworks Signal
            Thermoworks Dot
            Thermopen Mk4

          I have found that using quality ingredients and paying attention to temp makes a difference in the final product. You can use a lesser quality meat then brine and rub it with top level salt and spices then grill, SV or smoke it carefully to temp and get a superior meal. But you cook it the same using prime or waygu and you have a orgasmic meal.

          A while ago I gave one of my sons a recipe. Later he was talking to his sister and said " you know it just didn't taste as good.
          ' She replied "you know Dad only uses the best very ingredients".

          That's my story and I'm sticking to it!


          • Richard Chrz
            Richard Chrz commented
            Editing a comment
            I tend to agree, it is in the attention to details likely on any cook. Still learning the details, likely always will be.
        • klflowers
          Club Member
          • Sep 2015
          • 2542
          • Tennessee

          The other day I smoked a select brisket. I bought it by mistake and almost panicked when I realized what I had. But I calmed down and smoked it at 225 on my wsm. Wrapped with some beer at around 160 after bark set up. 16 hours total, but it came out pretty good. Not suggesting buying select, I will be more careful next time, but with care I think most grades can be made into something really good to eat.


          • ofelles
            ofelles commented
            Editing a comment
            maybe it was the beer wrap!?!
            Last edited by ofelles; September 5th, 2019, 11:40 AM.

          • klflowers
            klflowers commented
            Editing a comment
            All I had. Figured it couldn't hurt, ofelles

          • Steve R.
            Steve R. commented
            Editing a comment
            This, to me, is the essence of bbq. Taking an otherwise less desirable cut of meat and making it into something good. It's easier to do this if you have Prime handy, but it can still be done with lesser grades.
        • Bighorn Dave
          Club Member
          • Aug 2018
          • 229
          • Nampa, Idaho

          If feeding a group, the standing prime rib roast, but if just you and or a friend, spouse ETC. I prefer the NY strip (trim the hard fat away before cooking). IMHO much better flavor than a rib eye when it comes to steaks. If you really want the better stuff find a butcher that processes beef that has been dry aged by hanging in a cooler for a few days if not weeks. Also ask if grass fed and grain finished or grass finished. The big beef processors don't feed out the animals like a local beef farmer would and there is a difference. The stuff you get at the stores is more likely beef that was butchered within minutes if not a few hours of when it was put down. Others may differ which I fully accept but these are my preferences


          • Thunder77
            Thunder77 commented
            Editing a comment
            Agreed. I love the NY strip.

          • TripleB
            TripleB commented
            Editing a comment
            My preference is for a small end ribeye and I buy my steaks from the manager special section 99% of the time. But if I find nice, marbled NY strips in the manager's section, I grab them up. NY strips are delicious.
        • Troutman
          Club Member
          • Aug 2017
          • 6677
          • Republic of Texallence

            22" Weber Kettle - Red Premium Limited Edition
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            18” Jumbo Joe
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            Pitts & Spitts Pellet Pro 2436
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            For Beef (brisket, beef ribs, large clods/roasts) = 100% mesquite, oak or hickory
            For Chicken & other fowl = competition blend, cherry/oak/hickory
            For Turkey = 100% hickory or competition blend
            For Pork Shoulder = mesquite, oak or hickory
            For Pork Chops or Ribs = 100% applewood
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            Old Revere Wear Copper & Stainless Pots (handed down)

            JA Henckels 15 piece Stainless Knife Set
            Victorinox 12" Fibrox Pro Slicing Knive
            Victorinox 6" Curved Boning Knife
            Set of Dalstrong Japanese Steak Knives

          Prime. Boom.


          • texastweeter
            Club Member
            • Jul 2017
            • 2534
            • Republic of Texas

            prime brisket, or ribeye


            • Spinaker
              • Nov 2014
              • 10197
              • Land of Tonka
              • John "J R"
                Instagram: JRBowlsby
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                Buck 119 Special
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                Next Major Purchase
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              I would go with a Prime Ribeye. They are darn good and the flavor is excellent.

              As far as briskets go, I always go prime. In my experience, they are much better than choice or select. I certainly notice the difference.


              • Randy-Phx
                Club Member
                • Apr 2018
                • 462
                • Phoenix, AZ

                If you have a good thermometer I really like Prime Tri-Tip. I smoke to 127 then sear each side to medium rare. I use a Beef rub and a coffee rub. It’s very tender and tastes great.


                • TripleB
                  TripleB commented
                  Editing a comment
                  This is just me, but I never buy Prime Tri-Tip (TT). I have never tasted much of a difference between Prime and Choice TT's. I was at a KCBS sponsored backyard competition and the pit masters were doing presentations the night before on trimming meat for competition. Besides the famous four, a pit master also did TT. One of his comments to the group was that he never buys Prime, always choice. No big bang for the buck. Reinforced my thinking..... again though, just my opinion.

                • Richard Chrz
                  Richard Chrz commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I just cooked my first Tri Tip (I am sure it was choice or select, I did not pay attention). It had a good beef flavor. I hope to do another one in the near future.
              • mountainsmoker
                Club Member
                • Jun 2019
                • 1466
                • Bryson City, NC

                Richard Chrz I don't necessarily always buy prime. I always look at the marbling. A choice Black Angus ribeye can have more marbling than an A3 Prime ribeye. At the last reading I did of the ratings of the meats, there were 3 grades of prime and a couple of subgrades. There were 5 grades of choice and a couple of subgrades. So always be sure what you are buying.


                • Troutman
                  Troutman commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Where are you getting your grading information? The USDA has 8 grades, 3 that are common to consumers (prime, choice and select) and 5 yield grades which most of us don't see. Go to the USDA website, been that way for almost 100 years.

                • mountainsmoker
                  mountainsmoker commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I am sorry Troutman but I guess you missed the upgrade in 1996 and later that also takes into account the age of the animal. I also did not take into account the American Waygu ratings. I use the latest USDA grading system which has just recently been up graded to include the Black Angus breed as top of the line choice.


                • Troutman
                  Troutman commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Correct, they take a computer scan of the ribeye cut between the 12th and 13th rib and measure the amount of intermuscular fat on I believe a 100 point system. As fat marbling declines so does the rating. At some point it transitions from prime to choice to select. Nowhere does it say there are multiple grades of any of the 3 top subgrades. It's one of the 3 categories or it slips into the 5 yield subcategories, period.



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