Ask The Butcher: Upgrade Your 4th Of July Cookout

Check out our Q&A with before your next cookout or this year's 4th of July BBQ. 

Like most Americans, we love celebrating the 4th with an informal feast of hot dogs and hamburgers (and we take this 4th of July recipe inspiration very seriously). However, this year, we're ready to up our grill-game and treat our guests to something special. 

We reached out to our friend and neighbor Lisa Flynn from Austin TX's Rosso & Flynn, a modern butcher dedicated to transparency, freshness and supporting local farmers. We knew Lisa could answer our burning questions on selecting the right meat for this year's celebration and inspire us to get cooking. So fire up the grill and get ready to flip for these tips.

What's the best cut of meat to impress your guests on 4th of July?

The Picanha. You may recognize it as a tri-tip, but what makes this cut impressive and different is the generous fat cap. The picanha is famous at Brazilian steakhouses and grills up beautifully. I like it best served with a salsa verde but if you want to go more traditional, you can sprinkle on some yucca powder. It’s been a customer hit from day one since it feeds a crowd and keeps well for leftovers. Picanha tacos are my next day go-to. Plus, with Brazil in the World Cup, we have seen more customers trying it for the first time for watching parties!

Photo: Rosso & Flynn 

What's the best thing to smoke/grill for a crowd and why?

What is more Texas than brisket? As an Austin-based butcher, we have sold many briskets but I had never smoked one myself. When I decided to make my first brisket last week, I called up a bunch of local pitmasters for the “secrets” behind the perfect brisket, and everyone recommended Aaron Franklin’s BBQ bible as the best resource there is. Smoking adds so much drama and builds excitement, so I think it is the perfect hype cut for a day-long BBQ. Just remember: stay hydrated and caffeinated.

Photo: Rosso & Flynn

What kind of prep should be done before your party vs once guests arrive and you’re ready to cook?

My two hosting tips: First, pick only one item that needs to be cooked when guests are there. And second, be generous with the appetizers, because if there are any delays, your guests will be fed and happy.

The general rule I use is that 30 minutes before the party starts, I should be sitting on the sofa with a cold beverage in my hand. That means I’ve probably spent an hour a day in the days prior to getting my meal ready and I’ve planned on dishes that are do-aheads. By the time guests arrive, every other dish besides from the one I have cooked (probably a main) will be plated and either out or sitting in the fridge.

In the summer, my favorite side is a fresh squash, corn and cherry tomato salad with a dijon vinaigrette. The longer it sits, the better it gets. Tomatoes confitted in olive oil a few days before, served with crusty bread, makes a beautiful side or appetizer. For dessert, I serve DIY ice cream sundaes for dessert with weird toppings like olive oil, maldon salt and goat’s milk cajeta.

This gives me the freedom to focus on the main star, which often is a whole porchetta slowly roasting in the oven, a brisket in the smoker or grilled chicken.

When you think about your meal plan like this, then you can focus on the excitement of grilling or preparing a main course. Lastly, make sure are prepared with the appropriate dishes. Grandma Carol entertaining secret: days before, she would place sticky notes with the name of the dish in each platter or bowl so every course had a spot.

It's rainy! Plan B = the stovetop. If you pan sear, will the meat taste different? What will we notice?

I am a huge pan-searing convert, especially for steaks and pork chops. The key is to make sure your pan is hot enough to start searing right away, be uber generous with the salt both before and post cooking and finish in the oven. I use the 2-2-10 rule: Two minutes on each side in a super hot pan, 10 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. Works for all standard thickness cuts (1.25 in).

For larger cuts like ribs or picanhas, use your oven! Start high to get the crust crispy, then lower to cook through.

Made In Steak

Any tips for upgrading a classic burger?

Stuff it. I love making lamb burgers and stuffing them with feta or 96/4 ground with blue cheese. Our Wagyu burgers are a best seller, but those do not need much more than some salt and pepper.

Favorite condiment(s) to pair with your burger?

Dijon. But I have a fresh batch of tomato jam from a Johnson’s Backyard Garden U-pick that I cannot wait to try.

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  • Jeff Goldner

    I see you are using a Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) for your brisket. Can you give some specifics, like how much time and cut (whole, flat, point)? I have smoked a lot in my PBC, chicken, ribs, tri-tip, lamb leg, but haven’t braved the brisket yet.

  • J udy

    I was especially happy to learn that pan searing and the oven were O K to cook steak and brisket. I don’t want to purchase a grill of any kind and now I can
    prepare a rib eye or others when the taste buds give a yearning.

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