Summertime brings a lot to Mississippi: heat, tan lines, even lazier Sundays, and most of all, boredom due to lack of sports entertainment. No offense to America's past time, but once the NBA Finals wrap up, there's really not much to watch or enjoy as a sports fan. For me, this opens up my weekend for firing up my smoker or grill to rustle up some carnivorous concoctions.
At that point, I was curious as to what would separate and elevate the exact same cut of meat from my usual purchase just across the road. Fortunately for me, LB's is a huge supporter of Ole Miss baseball (FRESH MEAT ad when new opposing pitcher comes in??? DING!) and follower of the Cup. I reached out to new owner Greg Jones and sausage slinger Spencer Green for an inside peek at what separates LB's from your typical white-aproned meat cleaver.
How did LB's start?
LB's started in the Fall of 2008 with Lacey and Buck Cunningham. They are Ole Miss grads and always wanted to move back to Oxford. One night they wanted to grill steaks and went to Kroger. When Kroger didn't have any, I'm sure you can imagine their frustration. Well Buck has an engineering degree but didn't have a job at the time, so they decided to open up a meat market. So that's actually where the name "LB's" comes from, not the abbreviation for pounds. It's still pretty common for people here to call it "Pounds Meat Market" and we are sometimes prone to answer the phone with "Pounds".
Where does the meat come from?
We sell certified Hereford beef and free-range, grass-fed beef from Joyce farms out of Winston-Salem, N.C. We get our pork, mostly pork bellies and butts, from Whole Place Pastures in Como, Miss. But yea, knowing where your meat is coming from is definitely the new craze. Now we aren't in Oregon or anything where they know the names of their chickens and the last names of their families but it's become more important to our customers as they become more educated.
We've switched to free-range chicken and it's a completely different product from commercial chicken. Commercial grade chickens typically live in a box and are basically scientifically bred chickens. Most Americans prefer white meat to dark meat so scientists have found a way to produce a chicken with massively huge breasts. The free range chicken is a chicken that's actually seen the light of day, seen grass grow, seen the sun come up, ya know, has actually had the opportunity to live like a chicken should. It's just a better product and a better product for you.
What separates LB's from the butcher at Kroger or Walmart?
Definitely the communication with us and knowing more about what you are purchasing. I went to Kroger the other day and asked the clerk where their catfish was from and they couldn't tell me if it was Vietnamese or Mississippi farm raised. We take pride in knowing our product, where it's from and how it was raised. With our ground beef, we can guarantee that it's coming from the round of ONE cow. At Kroger or Walmart, you might have meat from dozens of different cows in one of those tubes of ground beef. We also don't have any asterisks next to product where it says "All Natural." "Made with five percent solution..." what the hell does that even mean? But yea, we can talk you through all of the details of what part of meat you are getting, when it was cut and how best to prepare it.
What are some of your top-selling products?
We sell a lot of our filet burgers and boneless bacon-wrapped pork chops with Greek and house seasoning. We also serve a smoky bacon burger. Our house bacon comes in smoked once, then we put another 3.5 hour hard smoke on it. Now we've got a super smoky bacon that we grind up with our house round to make a burger with that bacon flavor we all love. Our rotating flavors of fresh sausage are also really popular.
Another thing that really sets LB's apart is their efforts to improve the food standards of other local Oxford establishments. Chances are, if you've eaten in Oxford, you've probably already tried some LB's products without realizing it. Here's a short list to where LB's distributes:
- smoked pork sausage to Ajax and The Library
- ground round, boudin and Flying Pig sausage to Rafters
- sweet and mild Italian sausage to Proud Larry's
Huge props to LB's Meat Market for taking the time to show me their shop as well as answer my questions. They also sent me on my way with some smoked bacon burgers and chicken jalapeño-cheddar sausage for good measure. Be sure to visit them the next time you are looking to cook up some scrumptious slabs of ribs or for the best "meat-and-sides" lunch in town.
If you are interested, my rub is the recipe created by three-time Memphis in May Grand World Champion Mike Mills. Put it on any meat, before and after it's cooked. You just can't beat it.
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, finely ground
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbs mustard powder
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1/4 cup ground cumin
- 2 tbs ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup granulated garlic
- 2 tbs cayenne