Finding that right cut of beef can make all the difference in turning a special occasion, family get-together, backyard barbeque or meal around the dinner table into a memorable time no one will soon forget. That is what Bardwell-based Ashcraft Beef looks to provide its customers: the different cuts of meats to meet their needs.
Owners John and Kellie Ashcraft are dedicated and committed to raising, harvesting, and delivering the highest quality of beef to people across the state. Their beef is raised here in Ellis County. The Ashcrafts first started selling sides of beef to customers and have since added the sale of individual cuts as selected by customers. They launched their company right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area and, over time, have developed loyal customers.
“Our first set of steers, we had three steers processed, we had about 900-1,000 pounds of meat in the freezer,” John said. “At the same time, it was when a lot of the grocery stores didn’t have meat. They were talking about the lockdown and folks were going to the store and buying up everything and there was not anything. We sold out in three or four days.
“As the grocery stores started to come back online things slowed down and it leveled off,” he said. “We have got a steady customer base, but we are wanting to expand.”
Ashcraft Beef offers a variety of different cuts for its customers, including roasts, ground hamburger, fajita meat, cutlets, ribs, tenderloin filets, briskets, rib-eye, T-bones, and sirloin stakes.
“We do briskets, and our briskets are whole,” Kellie said. “They are not like the ones that you will find in the store. They are around the 12-pound mark. We have cutlets, which are chicken-fried steaks. We have stew meat and fajita meat, which is our No. 1 seller by choice. It is tenderized and it is lean. We have a waiting list for it. We have a waiting list for prime ribs.
“We did have boneless rib-eyes when we started, and people were like, ‘Do you have the ribeye with the bone?’ We do boneless now and then. It is not something that we keep in stock all of the time. We are really big on telling us what you want, and we will make sure that we will have it.”
Kellie said they want to make sure their customers are taken care of with their orders. They’re big on receiving feedback and if there is something that needs to be changed, they want to know about it. Customer service and producing a quality product are the Ashcrafts’ top priority.
The cattle they raise are fed a mixture of grass and feed.
“With all our products we don’t feed any medicated feeds,” John said. “So, there are no antibiotics or added hormones to it. What we do differently is we are not 100% grass-fed. About the last 100-120 days, they are still out on pasture, but I do not put them in a confined feedlot. We are not like that. They are still out grazing and doing what cows like to do.
“I do have a feeder there and they can walk by and eat as much feed as they want,” he said. “It is a blended feed with corn, and we use a protein pellet. It is a plant-based protein and vitamins and minerals.”
John feels that strictly grass-fed cattle don’t marble well enough and are a little bit too lean in their taste. Marbling adds flavor and juiciness as the fat melts into the cut of beef. It also keeps the meat moist, he said.
All Ashcraft Beef is Texas state-certified and inspected, and is processed at the Kaufman Locker meat processing plant. In the new year, Ashcraft will continue to use the Kaufman facility but will expand and use a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility as well. The meat goes through the same inspection process for health and safety in both facilities. The only difference between Texas state-certified and USDA-certified meat is state-certified meat can only be sold throughout the state. It can’t be sold to people in other states.
People can pick up their orders in Bardwell by arranging a time with the Ashcrafts – or the Ashcrafts can deliver it to a person’s home or business for a charge. With delivery, the Ashcrafts take extra precautionary measures to keep themselves and their customers safe.
“We have found that this is something that people like, especially now with COVID,” Kellie said. “They can pay us over the phone. We can ring their doorbell and we can walk away. They don’t have to touch us. A lot of people are enjoying that right now because everything is mobile now.
“We show up at everyone’s house wearing a mask and we are very diligent about keeping them safe,” she said. “We are here to accommodate them.”
John shared his wife’s thoughts about how safety is taken into account with every order. Each order is boxed up and then placed on the customer’s doorstep. A phone call or text message is then sent to let them know their order has arrived.
For more information about Ashcraft Beef, cuts of beef offered and prices, go to its website at www.ashcraftbeefllc.com or its Facebook page. For meat orders, John Ashcraft can be reached at 281-734-4430 or JohnAshcraft281@gmail.com. Additional information can be found on the company’s Instagram page at www.instagram.com/ashcraftbeefllc. Meat pickup in Bardwell is by appointment only.