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#1
Posted December 10th 2007, 12:50pm
Well, here it is: my own personal quarter of an organic cow, portioned up and headed for the freezer.
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Now, Bossy (as I've come to call him or her) was a real lightweight, coming in at 516 lbs of useable meat (of which we recieved 129.) For your reference, Bossy cost $365, including $75 for butchering and, sadly, I have no idea where she came from, as this was all arranged by a friend (though if you're interested, PM me and I'll find out.) I could tell she was a lightweight, as I was gifted with the odd bits: tongue, of course, which was closer in size to a veal tongue than I'm used to. Not surprisingly, she came with fewer steaks than I'd have preferred, the majority of what you're seeing there are braising cuts: chuck, round, shoulder, etc. (the clear cryovac package is oxtail) Those are two large-sized laundry baskets, for reference, each probably 1.5 bushel. All told, though, she worked out to less than $3/lb, not too bad even for cheap cuts of quality beef.

Apparently, if not eloquent, Bossy was a social drinker, as I got (as my quarter, mind you) a solid 3 lbs or more of liver - I know you've all seen me eat my way through cow offal, but oddly, I'm not a fan of beef liver - suggestions are welcome. (Sausages?) I was also gifted with the heart, as the only cook willing to deal - and several "meaty soup bones." We got quite a few 1-lb bags of hamburger meat whose origins remain a mystery (fine with me) We dug in a bit this weekend, and I cooked up some minestrone with a beef stock from one of the soup bones, and a meat lasagna with a pound of the ground beef. Both were remarkably flavorful and lean; the ground beef was a good bit dryer than I'm used to, which meant it browned nicely when sauteed. The meat from the soup bone retained its flavor even after being cooked all day to extract the broth.

I'll update as we slowly make our way through this beast...

Edited to add: This thread contains photos of raw beef offal.
Last edited by Mhays on February 16th 2008, 10:08am, edited 1 time in total.
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#2
Posted December 10th 2007, 1:13pm
Very interesting indeed. I've been hearing more and more of cow splitting, and have had a few offers to go in on one. Question: Are you able to select what "grade" (select, choice) of cow you'd like butchered?

Another question: what's a "guestimate" of how many pounds of the less collagen, quick cooking, non braising cuts you netted? Sorry, I don't really know of a term to describe - I'm talking about steaks that could be considered as higher grade like ribeye / sirloin / skirt / strip etc. I don't really consider them higher grade as much as I consider them "easier to cook."
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#3
Posted December 10th 2007, 1:20pm
One time I split a beef 3 ways and volunteered to take all the liver....that's a whole lot of liver.
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#4
Posted December 10th 2007, 2:18pm
Within a few days or weeks, I hope to document this Christmas' batch of calf lever pate - or at least the Swedish version that is spreadable and served as a sandwich condiment. I personally would use at least a little of that wonderful liver of yours, Mhays, in something like a the Swedish "Kalvlever Anglais" (flash pan-fried and served with crispy bacon, capers and mashed potatoes) - it may just change your opinion. However, a pate-like preparation may just tone down the liver-bite enough to suit you a little better. I love the taste of liver but can get a little sensitive to its texture - expecially if it is overcooked. Pate gets around that issue.

I'll put a link into this post when and if I get a passable post put together about my liver pate this year!

One way or another, I'd love to see some posts/photos of what all of that incredible beef ends up as.
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#5
Posted December 10th 2007, 3:11pm
Definitely link to the recipe, Bridgestone, just in case I don't find it (which is unlikely, always looking to see what's for dinner in Sweden :D )

Seebee, my input into the matter was to nod when asked, all I specified was a Christmas rib roast (which did cut into my steaks considerably.) It could be choice for all I know, but it's markedly more flavorful than grocery-store meat thus far. However, the braising-cut to grilling-cut ratio is pretty high - I think out of all that meat, a single bottom layer in the laundry baskets were 1" thick rib, t-bone and sirloin steaks - a good primer on why that meat is so expensive. It isn't a good way to go if you're looking exclusively or mostly for steaks.

I really, really liked the hamburger, which was very lean and tasted strongly of cow.
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#6
Posted December 10th 2007, 3:19pm
I split a 1/4 of a cow recently with some friends. It is just the nature of the cow that you end up with more braising cuts than grilling cuts. That is why steaks cost so much more than roasts, there aren't as many per cow. When purchasing my cow, the farmer called me up and asked how I would like it cut up. I chose to get every cut of meat that I could, instead of turning things into hamburger or "stew" meat.

However I love slow cooked beef so this has worked out well for me.
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#7
Posted December 14th 2007, 5:11pm
Mhays wrote:Apparently, if not eloquent, Bossy was a social drinker, as I got (as my quarter, mind you) a solid 3 lbs or more of liver - I know you've all seen me eat my way through cow offal, but oddly, I'm not a fan of beef liver - suggestions are welcome.


Beef liver makes excellent Jewish-style chopped liver. That's all my bubbe ever used.

Broil till very well done (more well-done than anyone would want to eat by itself, almost leathery) and combine with schmaltz, onions, hard-boiled eggs, etc. Also gribenes, if you have any.
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#8
Posted December 14th 2007, 5:41pm
Thanks, LAZ - maybe that's what I'm looking for to round out my Christmas dinner...I do have schmaltz, but am sadly lacking in gribenes...
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#9
Posted December 18th 2007, 3:39pm
Hi Mhays -

I finally made a postabout making a liver pate-type preparation with veal/beef liver.

Don't know if you're still interested but I did promise to let you know when/if I got the post made.
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#10
Posted January 9th 2008, 9:57am
Looking for something else, I stumbled across this post and realized I haven't been updating it. My liver terrine went over pretty well, nice to add it to the cheese tray that came out over the holidays. Next up, chopped liver and Leverpastej!

Just made my first oxtail stew, and, boy - now I understand why those things are so expensive! Kind of like chicken feet in the gelatin-y velvet mouthfeel the sauce, but with serious beefy flavor. Unfortunately, one cow's worth of oxtail wasn't really enough for even 3 people, so I rounded it out with a "meaty soup bone" (sic) which rendered lovely medula, (marrow) making me wish I knew what happened to the legs of this critter. Of course, we wound up with leftovers.

A Firehouse find - the 'spouse told me they had pot-roast over spaghetti squash one night. I tried this with the leftover oxtail/soup bone stew and it was absolutely excellent! Lighter than noodles or mashed potatoes - in a good way. Even Sparky, who loathes vegetables in the orangey-yellow spectrum, snarfed it down.
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#11
Posted January 13th 2008, 11:17am
Last night's foray into cow was 7-bone Chuck roast braised in wine over polenta. Family loved it - I thought it was OK. Unlike the rest of the cow, this didn't strike me as being that different from grocery-store chuck steak - but I can't say if that was preparation or the meat itself.
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#12
Posted January 15th 2008, 8:07pm
So, of course, I had leftover pot roast. I went poking around the 'net, looking for something that struck me when I happened on this: Yorkshire Pudding Strata. Now, normally I am somewhat suspicious of Recipezaar, even more so of recipes from a cookbook proported to "Cut Your Time, Cut Your Costs, Cut the Fat" but, heady from my recent success with Yorkshire Pudding this Christmas (and clafouti, which is basically the same thing) I tried it:

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Well, Bossy did herself proud again. It was, indeed, better than the original dish - of course, other than the Yorkshire Pudding part I didn't follow the recipe at all; mine had potatoes, onion, pot roast, gravy and Yu Choy...but the basic idea was the same. Family snarfed every bit.
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#13
Posted January 16th 2008, 11:01am
So this was only a portion of a "fore quarter"? Did you get any rib eyes or rib steaks? Just curious
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#14
Posted January 16th 2008, 11:07am
It was one animal split 4 ways between 4 families: we got some of almost everything; seems like quite a bit was ground into hamburger because we didn't seem to get belly cuts (I also didn't get any marrow bones or brains, but I forgot to ask the butcher) It was butchered, frozen, delivered together and we split it into coolers and laundry baskets and took our portion home. I did document some of what we got above.

That being said, due to the anatomy of a cow, there is quite a bit more meat that needs braising than meat for grilling...
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#15
Posted January 28th 2008, 12:24pm
Tried something simply labeled as "arm roast" the other day. I was expecting something with a bone in it, but wound up with a big slab of mildly grisly meat that I cut into 3 pieces. I decided it was perfect for a long braise, and made a pot roast/stew, which turned out beautifully and which I managed to record:

Sear meat seasoned with salt and pepper in a few tablespoons of oil that's been preheated in a skillet. Don't touch it for a few minutes and it will brown nicely, turn until seared on all sides.
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Remove the meat from the pan, add a sliced onion and turn the heat way down.
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When that has become translucent, smash 3-4 cloves of garlic, remove the paper and throw them in whole.
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Add remaining aromatics (I used a few baby carrots, a couple quartered tomatoes that were past their prime) and dust with Wondra flour - probably a tablespoon or so)
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Stir thoroughly, and when the flour seems incorporated into the fat at the bottom of the pan, add two bay leaves, 1/2 tsp of salt and seasonings of your choice (I used Herbes de Provence and some peppercorns) and put the meat back in the pan. Pour in about a half bottle of red wine, and then add enough chicken stock to cover the meat. Cover and put in the oven at 250 degrees for 3 hours. Bring it back to the stovetop, add 1 cup of frozen peas or frozen edamame and 1 snack-size bag of raw baby carrots, chopped. Simmer uncovered on the stove until the carrots reach the desired tenderness, test for seasoning and serve over big schloopy noodles.

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#16
Posted January 28th 2008, 12:46pm
out of curiosity where was that beef processed? often you really have to spell out how you want it cut up. they'll make everything into hamburger. i learned that the hard way. "where's the flank steak, where's the skirt steak, etc."
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#17
Posted January 28th 2008, 1:32pm
Yes, this is something I learned for next time - though, since it's split 4 ways, I didn't want to make waves; the hamburger is very good and I don't mind having a lot of it. Next time, I'll come out with more specifics - wish I knew where all the marrow bones were...

The meat is labeled as follows (I assume this is the processor and not the producer:)

Sorg Farm Packing, Inc.
Darien, Wisconsin 53114
262-724-5554
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#18
Posted January 28th 2008, 1:58pm
Mhays wrote:The meat is labeled as follows (I assume this is the processor and not the producer:)

Sorg Farm Packing, Inc.
Darien, Wisconsin 53114
262-724-5554


Sorg's is a large packing house about 85 miles NW of Chicago (or 15 miles north of Harvard, IL). They also have a retail store and make some pretty good sausages.

Skirts and flanks will generally be ground into hamburger as quite frankly, few people are familiar with them. However, the customer is the boss and they will cut to YOUR specifications if you tell them what you want.

Do realize that there are 8# of skirt steaks and 4# of flank steaks out of 750# of carcass weight.

See this link from the University of Nebraska's Meat Science department:

http://beef.unl.edu/FAQ/200702240.shtml

Personally, I am not really excited about buying a whole or portion of a steer as you have so much bone and scraps that you are paying for. In the long run, i would rather buy the cuts I want.
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#19
Posted January 28th 2008, 2:00pm
I'm not sure how you purchased it, but someone had to give the processor a cut sheet, explaining how they wanted it cut up. Your goal should be to be the one that fills out that sheet. Maybe you can head up a group of friends next time and take charge. then make sure you get the good stuff like the tongue in exchange for giving them more burger. that kind of thing. make it sound like you are sacrificing.
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#20
Posted January 28th 2008, 5:22pm
Right - but not wanting to look a gift cow in the mouth, I left that to the ones who actually did the purchasing. :D That being said, I'm still pretty happy and plan to do it again - FWIW, jlawrence, I think I came out ahead overall if you average in the expensive meat with the cheap and discards.
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#21
Posted January 28th 2008, 6:09pm
It's possible that your quadrant purchased did not contain skirt or flank.

Our experience with our 1/2 cow is similiar in the sense that the rural processor is not exactly Loebels when it came to cutting the steak. They have their standard cut sheet and that's what they use. I worked with my guy to get a little customization, but there's only so much to do.

As to value, I think it was a great deal. Our cow was organically raised. The meat quality is about as high as possible this side of Kobe. I would surely do it again. The only downside is having to deal with the frozen-ness, as in what's for dinner tonight, it aint the cow...
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#22
Posted January 28th 2008, 6:15pm
Mhays wrote:Right - but not wanting to look a gift cow in the mouth, I left that to the ones who actually did the purchasing. :D That being said, I'm still pretty happy and plan to do it again - FWIW, jlawrence, I think I came out ahead overall if you average in the expensive meat with the cheap and discards.


Don't let me discourage you. Half of my freezer is filled with beef bones and less tender cuts from people who 1) bought a side of beef and 2) are clueless as to what to do with shanks, flanks, and oxtails. Other than ground beef, their generosity has kept me well fed (g) ... at no cost.

I saw an interesting statistic from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln meat science department. 10% of the dressed carcass weight generates 50% of the economic value of the steer. Meat producers are starting to price their products accordingly
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#23
Posted January 28th 2008, 6:27pm
jlawrence01 wrote:Half of my freezer is filled with beef bones and less tender cuts from people who 1) bought a side of beef and 2) are clueless as to what to do with shanks, flanks, and oxtails. Other than ground beef, their generosity has kept me well fed (g) ... at no cost.


Obviously, a cheaper option is to be friends with your friends! :lol:
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#24
Posted February 15th 2008, 12:04pm
Valentine's Day special: Beef Heart Shepherd's [sic] Pie

This seemed like a good idea on all counts: satisfied my need to eat the grisly bits, and my hubby's need for meat-and-potatoes. Interestingly, the meat was most remeniscent of...well, chicken hearts! I liked it quite a bit (being the one who snags the heart from the giblets whenever I can) It's chewy but very even-textured: not at all gristly, and not very strongly flavored. It's a bit beefier than chicken heart, but tastes more like meat than offal. I did quite like this preparation (though my mashed potatoes failed, as usual - but at least this time they were too fluffy) Future beef heart preps will, I think, be some kind of pot-pie with a similar filling but more veg.

The ugly:

All the membrane on the outside, including the fat, had to be cut away. I added it to the sauteeing onions later to render (and then fed it to the very happy dogs)
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A bit of the gristle on the inside had to be cut away as well (interesting stuff, you can't see it here, but there was a valve)
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Dicing revealed the lovely red meat
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Added it to onions sweated in butter with 2 cups white wine and fines herbes (I didn't have a bouquet garni handy)
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and braise in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Top with mashed potatoes, swiss cheese, panko and ground hazelnuts (I'll omit the nuts next time) and cook for another 10 minutes.
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Last edited by Mhays on March 1st 2008, 8:46am, edited 1 time in total.
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#25
Posted February 15th 2008, 1:02pm
Mhays wrote:Valentine's Day special: Beef Heart Shepherd's Pie



:lol: :)

Thought it was a great idea when you mentioned it the other day. Glad to see it worked out in reality.
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The Local Beet 2014 Guide to Chicagoland Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
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#26
Posted February 15th 2008, 1:11pm
jlawrence01 wrote:Skirts and flanks will generally be ground into hamburger as quite frankly, few people are familiar with them.


Skirts? Into hamburger? :shock:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! :cry:
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#27
Posted February 15th 2008, 1:36pm
Vital Information wrote:Thought it was a great idea when you mentioned it the other day. Glad to see it worked out in reality.

:) Thanks!

Been meaning to ask you - how did you use the beef suet? I think of bricks for bird feeders, mostly - I guess some meat pastries use it, too, but it's not something that's right out there.

I vaguely remember some postings about it, but I'm too lazy to search today...
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#28
Posted February 15th 2008, 1:38pm
Mhays wrote:
Vital Information wrote:Thought it was a great idea when you mentioned it the other day. Glad to see it worked out in reality.

:) Thanks!

Been meaning to ask you - how did you use the beef suet? I think of bricks for bird feeders, mostly - I guess some meat pastries use it, too, but it's not something that's right out there.

I vaguely remember some postings about it, but I'm too lazy to search today...


The plan for the suet is steak and kidney pie (with the kidneys from the cow); + some to MikeG.
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The Local Beet 2014 Guide to Chicagoland Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
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#29
Posted February 15th 2008, 2:06pm
seebee wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:Skirts and flanks will generally be ground into hamburger as quite frankly, few people are familiar with them.


Skirts? Into hamburger? :shock:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! :cry:


C'mon, Seebee, realize that most people use perhaps ten cuts of beef, period. In general, they have NO clue as to how to cook the "less tender" cuts of the steer. That is why places like Jewel get away with some of the blatant mislabeling (bottom round is NOT London Broil).

Outside of Chicago and certain ethnic areas, you generally NEVER see a skirt steak. Outside of LA, you RARELY see a tri-tip (other than the recent introduction by Costco and Trader Joe's).

When you are butchering your OWN steer, you know that you are getting everything including the hoofs, hydes, and the other parts.
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#30
Posted February 15th 2008, 2:10pm
jlawrence01 wrote:
seebee wrote:
jlawrence01 wrote:Skirts and flanks will generally be ground into hamburger as quite frankly, few people are familiar with them.


Skirts? Into hamburger? :shock:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! :cry:


C'mon, Seebee, realize that most people use perhaps ten cuts of beef, period. In general, they have NO clue as to how to cook the "less tender" cuts of the steer. That is why places like Jewel get away with some of the blatant mislabeling (bottom round is NOT London Broil).

Outside of Chicago and certain ethnic areas, you generally NEVER see a skirt steak. Outside of LA, you RARELY see a tri-tip (other than the recent introduction by Costco and Trader Joe's).

When you are butchering your OWN steer, you know that you are getting everything including the hoofs, hydes, and the other parts.


I'm as big a fan of skirt steak as anyone, and I'll even step up to defend the virtue of grinding it up from time to time. It lends a lot of good beef flavor to dishes that call for ground beef. It's really not such a bad thing.

I was introduced to this concept from Lynne Rosetto-Kaspar's recipe for Ragu Bolognese which calls for a portion of ground flank or skirt steak. I find it far superior to using ground chuck or round in a lot of cases.

Best,
Michael
Home Cookin'

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