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Hacks to turn cheap meat into BBQ gold

steak math dumont

When’s the last time you decided that you earned yourself the right to treat yourself right?

As most people would do, I’m sure you want for a sure bet such as a Ribeye steak or something along these lines.

There are a few different cuts that are just “can’t miss” if you feel like investing in a good dinner at home rather than eating out.

Problem with this is that it’s easy to always fall back in the same patterns and eat the same things, over and over again. Sure, they’re really good, but too much of a good thing is still too much.

This is why learning about hacks is amazing because it opens up a lot of options with cuts most people wouldn’t even dare consider! This means more supply, cheaper costs and therefore, more occasions to treat yourself good on the regular!

Here are the most popular meat hacks to turn cheap cuts into fan-favorites!

  1. Low and Slow

    Cooking low and slow is a staple in the BBQ world and is the oldest of hacks you can find out there. Using this method with cuts that have high ratios of collagen, you can turn just about any of these tough cuts into the most delicate and pillowy bites you can ever eat. I’m sure you’re already familiar with the beef brisket but there are many other cheaper cuts that are worth playing around with.

    Ask around for some beef cheeks, shanks, scoters or even a shoulder clod, which was the predecessor of the brisket up until 1960.

    By slowly smoking and raising the meat to 203F, the collagen will break down and turn into gelatin, making any tough cut as tender as can be and also very moist. Using shredders, you will be able to tear right through and feed your people
  2. Buttermilk and Yogurt

    A great way to add flavor and moisture to your chicken is by letting it sit overnight in buttermilk or yogurt. Probiotics are great allies when it comes down to tenderizing chicken breasts and making sure that this lean meat does not dry out anytime soon. Buttermilk is the key ingredient to the best of deep fried chicken, whereas yogurt is the foundation of a lot of Greek and Indian chicken dishes. Just set your chicken on some skewers and throw your drumsticks over the flames for a quick and flavorful meal!
  3. More Coffee, Please

Coffee is a natural beef flavor enhancer. Using coffee grounds as rub is a fairly common thing but very little people will leverage actual coffee as a marinade based. Brew up some coffee, let it cool down, and use this as a foundation for a beef marinade. The coffee will not only boost the beef flavor profile, but also acts as a tenderizer. Coffee, cocoa and garlic powder is a great combo to build off from.


  1. Acidic Marinades

    Marinades are very common but store-bought marinades are often very heavy on sugar and will overpower the meat flavor in most cases. This is why you should start making your own. A good marinade should have something savory, some sweet, but most importantly, it should have a significant amount of acid. Using sodas, lemon / lime juice or some kind of vinegar will allow your marinade to start breaking down the meat fiber, tenderizing a seemingly tough cut into something flavorful and much more interesting to bite on. Just throw your meat in a bag with some marinade, let it sit for a few hours up to a full day, and let the magic work itself out.
  2. Salt and brines

    Using salt in the right way can make or break a meal. Using salt rubs on steaks will tenderize tough cuts and turn cheap steaks into restaurant-like meals. Another way to leverage salt is to create brines. Brines are combinaisons of water and salt, to which you can add aromas. By letting meat in brines, you allow salt to start working on the meat fiber and break down the protein, tenderizing the meat and adding moisture at the same time. This is how a lot of charcuterie are made and the secret to the moisture and preservation of most of them.
  3. Phosphates

    There are additives available to chemically tenderize your meat in a much faster way. Phosphate can be injected in meat to keep maximum moisture and extend the freshness of your meat in the event that you have leftovers. Phosphate can be added on its own, but you can also find phosphate inside most of the best injections on the market.
  4. Play with your brain a little.

    We are all sugar addicts. Knowing that, you can use this to your advantage. While using cheaper cuts, it’s smart to go for sweet rubs and sauces in order to maximize the maillard reaction and bring the focus on the sauces and the caramelization on the outside of your meat rather than the tenderness. Opt for sticky korean-style or asian char-siu barbecue for sweet finger food that will get you coming back for more!

With these 7 different ways to elevate any cheap cuts, there is no more reason not to treat yourself good twice as often. With the right meat cut, the right tools and the proper method, you’ll reaffirm your role as the BBQ king in your neighborhood.