Beef Shopping Tips From a Top Texas Butcher

As Beef Loving Texans, we know what our favorite protein is. But when it comes to shopping for beef and preparing it, some of us struggle. We like to be pointed in the right direction with expert advice and delicious recipes our family will love.

You can read all the blogs and articles the internet has to offer, but there’s no one better to get shopping advice from than your local butcher. Whether they work at your neighborhood grocery store or family-owned meat market, butchers are one of the best sources of information.

Michael Majkszak, owner of Majkszak’s Meat Market in Conroe and regional winner of Beef Loving Texans’ Best Butcher in Texas, has been in the business for more than 10 years. In preparation for Texas Monthly’s Whiskey Affair, Michael has shared some shopping tips and a recipe for some inspiration!

Q. How long have you owned your meat market?

A. For 15 years, since 2002.

Q. Tell us about the Garlic-Bourbon Beef Short Rib recipe you chose for Whiskey Affair. Why did you choose this dish and what do you think people will like about it?

A. I chose short ribs because, in my opinion, they’re the richest meat on the animal. There’s nothing better. A little bite packs a lot of flavor, so I thought it’d be perfect for bite-sized servings.

Q. Why are short ribs so popular in the culinary scene and for home cooks?

A. Besides the wonderful taste, short ribs are very versatile and you can use them to create a wide variety of recipes.

Q. What primal cut(s) do short ribs come from?

A. Ribs come from the beef plate in the rib section of the animal. The first 4 ribs are from the chuck end, known as chuck plate ribs. The 3 other bones are from the rib end of the plate.

Q. Can you explain the difference between various styles of beef ribs, and how preparation and cooking changes depending on the cut?

A. There are three types of ribs: English style, Flanken style or whole (barbecue style). English style is traditionally cut from the 3 bone rib end plate rib. It’s a much thicker cut, and runs parallel with the bones. You can cut them the full length (4 to 7 inches long), or your butcher will cut them into 2-3 inch sections. They’ll need to be cooked low and slow and using moist heat to make the meat soft and tender. Flanken style ribs are traditionally cut from the 4 bone chuck plate rib. These are cut horizontally to the bone cross ways. Traditionally, they are cut a 1/2-inch thick, although my personal preference is a little thicker or thinner. You want to cook these hot and fast, either on the grill or in the oven. They won’t take very long to cook, simply because they are so thin. Whole or barbecue style ribs are my favorite. They can be cut from the 3 bone or 4 bone. I like to smoke these uncovered at 275°F for 6-8 hours, seasoned with salt and pepper. I spritz them with water every 30 minutes or so during the last 3 hours, to prevent them from drying out.

Q. Why is beef great for pairing and cooking with alcohol like bourbon?

A. Large cuts of beef are perfect for this because like anything good, they take time. A long marinade and a long cook brings out the richness of the beef, which pairs well with the bourbon.

Q. What other marinades or flavors pair well with short ribs?

A. Anything citrus, white or red wine, Italian dressing and vinegar-bases ingredients like mustard or hot sauce pair well with short ribs.

Q. Texans grill year ’round, and we know they don’t have to buy prime to get a good steak. What tips would you give customers before hitting the grill?

A. I personally recommend sirloin if you’re feeding a lot of people. You can feed 4-5 people for $20.

Q. What advice would you give to someone shopping on a budget?

A. In my opinion, sirloin is the best steak on the cow. It can eat as good as ribeye if it’s good quality. Sirloin is built up as a cheap cut and not to buy it, which isn’t true. I have to coach people on that.

Q. Do you recommend a particular type of rub?

A. At the end of the day, all I use is salt and pepper. People tend to over-season, which can ruin a good cut of beef. I just rub down with oil, salt and pepper.

Q. What role do butchers play in helping people make the best choices to feed their family?

A. People can rely on us and look at us like a friend. People depend on me with their questions, and I love that about my job. You can trust and rely on your local butcher.

Recipe by: Michael Majkszak, Beef Loving Texans’ Best Butcher in Texas Regional Winner

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