Yesterday I got my quarter grassfed calf from the butcher, 60kg. 25kg of those were roasts, 4kg ground beef and the rest... was cut, torn and sawn into pieces. A huge pile of, how they called it, boiling meat. I was lucky enough to get the liver which they otherwise would have thrown away.
Upon closer inspection at home I found some huge steaks (like 20x40cm in size), smaller steaks and really good chunks of roasts in that pile. I don't know what these people were thinking (if they did think at all) but I can't imagine this to be the "right" way to cut up a cow.
Granted, there are many ways of doing it but "right" for me implies to use as much meat as possible. Fortunately I was able to save a few steaks from the boiling meat pile but everything was covered in bone meal and sorting, cleaning & cutting through the pile took me 6 hours (which I gladly spend on my food - if I it BEFORE). As a result, I added another 5kg of sliced meat to the balance, also 2kg of steaks and it looks like I will get another 4kg of boiled meat. I have taken a look at some of the ProteinUniversity videos but could not really find a coherent video on this, so could you help me? What would be proper way(s) to cut up a quarter cow?
(And yes, the neighbour's dog has not been happier his whole life.)
That is definitely not right. We have been ordering a 1/2 cow every year for the last three years. We get a variety of steaks, roasts and ground beef, with some stew meat (the less desirable/tough cuts). When you order the cow, the butcher should walk through a variety of options with you: fat ration on ground beef (70/30 beef to fat IMO is best), rib steaks vs ground beef, keep or discard offal (keep), thickness of steaks, how many cuts to a package, etc.
We have never received "boiling meat". Assuming "boiling meat" is stew meat, you should never receive the quantity you are describing, maybe 10 - 15 lbs (4 - 6 kgs) or so. It should certainly be "clean" and not covered in bone meal and also cut into small pieces for ease of stewing.
My best guess is that you are dealing with a newbie butcher or more likely a farmer who is doing his/her own butchering and doing it extremely poorly. I would certainly have a conversation around some sort of partial refund, unless you got an extremely low price to begin with.
While it is certainly significantly less expensive to get grass fed beef by the quarter or half, it is still more expensive than corn fed and what you are describing is simply unacceptable.
I would also speak with the farmer if they were not the butcher and let them know the problems you have had.
When done right, grass fed beef in quantity is absolutely fantastic. Our family can never go back to getting SAD beef, nor would we want to!
Good luck with straightening this out.
Something I didn't know when I first got into paleo was that butchery is an art and what cuts you get from an animal depends on the butcher. There is no part of an animal called t-bone, that's an invented cut that can be other cuts as well. I was a veg*n and had never even cooked meat before, so it took me some time to figure it out. Now I know cuts well enough that I can request that. What you get from your cow/pig/lamb/whatever share is pretty dependent on the butcher and/or slaughterhouse, so shop around. Also, I've requested things and then have had the slaughterhouse mess up severely and throw things away I wanted. I've even heard of people getting the wrong animal back...this supply chain thing is tough!
One thing that's really really really dependent on these people is charcuterie. Many slaughterhouses have a standardized bratwurst "mix" they use that suuuuucks/has crap ingredients and they won't use your own recipe unless it's USDA approved or some bullshit. In that case have them give me the stuff that would normally go into the sausage and I have my own butcher make it. If I were more skilled/had the equipment I would do it myself. NYC Paleo Meatshare has been extraordinarily lucky to have skilled butchers advise us in the process.
Here is a list from my current lamb supplier: LEGS WHOLE OR HALF (bone in/out) LAMB CHOPS OR ROAST RIB CHOPS OR ROAST FRENCH STYLE CUT RIBS SPARE RIBS THICK CUT SPARE RIBS LEFT WHOLE ON RACK SHOULDER ROAST WHOLE OR SHOULDER CHOPS BLADE SHOULDER ROAST OR CHOPS SHANKS WHOLE OR CUT STEW MEAT OR KABOBS GROUND OR SAUSAGE (BRATWURST SIZE, ORGANIC SEASONINGS) NECK BONES FOR SOUP TONGUE HEAD HEART LIVER KIDNEYS
My last supplier had a totally different list! I wish I still had it, but I wasn't as happy. The money cut here is the organic seasoned sausage because this supplier got a special recipe approved. I also like getting the head. The last supplier threw that out and also didn't give us the bones. Since we have a lot of offal-eaters and some people who feed their dogs raw, we want EVERYTHING. The main thing missing here is the blood. It's hard to get a slaughterhouse to handle that properly. At some point NYC paleo is planning on doing the slaughter/processing in house— cut out ALL the middlemen. Then we'll get what we want :)
When I got my 1/4 cow it arrived in recognizable cuts (chuckroast, flank steak, hamburger, sirloin, etc.). All of the cuts were neatly wrapped in white butcher paper, with the cut written on the outside. In other words, it was professionally butchered.
Your experience makes me wonder if there were other issues with your beef. Grass fed beef is currently a premium product; it's more expensive per pound because these cows do not weigh as much as corn-fed beef. For a premium product, I'd expect that standard butchering practices be employed. Why didn't the rancher send the cow to a butcher?
A "butcher" or butchering a beef to me would mean, wrapped separately into family size roasts, steaks, hamburger with the all the various cuts ready for you to use at home. All my beef comes this way from the butcher who does like his job. I cannot imagine what the heck happened here but is just plain wrong and NOT standard procedures.
After you get your 1/4 beef the only prep you should be doing is throwing it in your freezer.
I'd also be interested in learning about any resources that detail cuts of meat one could expect to get from a cow - i.e. assuming the whole cow weighed 600lbs, what are the roast/steak/stew meat options to be had?
That sounds pretty bad. When I was a kid, my mother went out hunting and shot a deer. Then the whole family plus a family friend (who was more experienced) got together to cut it up into pieces and wrap them up for the freezer. We were amateurs but all the meat was turned into coherent slabs of meat wrapped decently in paper. We labeled them with the part of the animal it came from like butt, flank, etc. Another friend I know does it in a similar way but also takes the less favored parts and has them ground into hamburger (or I guess that would be called deerburger). The only complaint I sometimes have is that the slabs of meat are often larger than I would prefer as there is only one of me and I don't always want to defrost 10 servings of meat all at once. Of course, I realize that cutting smaller pieces would amount to twice as much work so I don't complain too loudly..
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