Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beef: It's What's for Dinner.

I just bought half a side of beef. Adulthood has definitely set in.

I mentioned in passing to my Brother-in-law (BIL), that I've always toyed with the idea of ordering part of a cow so that I'd have meat on hand in my freezer. He loved the idea and suggested we could split a side of beef. To get us started, he suggested I research the beef -- finding local, pasture-raised cows and checking the cost -- while he'd look into getting a larger freezer.

Surfing the web, I found many warning articles about just what we were getting ourselves into. Finding actual farms that specificly listed the prices on sides of beef was trick. Eventually we decided on Vermont Natural Beef. Unfortunately we were a little late getting our act in gear and their sides were sold out. So we went with Austin Farms, the meat purveyor at the local farmer's market.

What we got
Beef is sold by the hanging weight, that is the weight of the cow carcass after it's been slaughtered, but not aged or butchered. Beef will lose about 20% of its hanging weight in the butchering process.

Our hanging weight was 381 lbs for a side of beef. We got it at $3.00/lb for a total of $1143. That included cutting and delivery to the farmer's market. That works out to about $3.75/lb for 304lbs of beef, 150lbs being my share.

I talked through the cutting over the phone, so I don't have a cutsheet handy. Basically we went for steaks and roasts when possible, followed by stew meat, and as little of ground beef as we could (which is still many, many pounds). Steaks an inch thick, roasts about 3 lb, other things in 1lb packages. Yes to all the extra options.

The beef came frozed, wrapped in plastic. This surprised me as I was expecting paper wrap. Everything frozen solid was a benefit, since I'm not sure how long it would have taken the freeze to do it.

BIL and I simple divided it up, 1 package ground beef for me, 1 package for you, thoughout the contents. The soup bones I was expecting, the suet I was not. There's a lot more liver than I thought a cow needed.

We also got the heart and tongue. I opted for the heart since I have fond childhood memories of eating heart. BIL got the tongue. Unfortunately his wife does not have fond childhood memories of eating tongue, but that's his problem not mine.

Most of the beef is stored in his new deep freezer. Every few weeks I plan on visiting and taking a bit more of my share back home. Hopefully the hubby and I can eat our way though it all sometime this year.

The plan is to blog the things I cook with this beef and perhaps get some recipes or ideas for things to make. Especially for the liver and ground beef.

150lb of beef. What was I thinking?


Steve said...

My brother/your uncle (Leon) raises beef cattle but I can't convince him to sell me a half or even a quarter. It may be because he names them.

I grew up eating a lot of liver. Mom (Grandma) covered it in flour and fried it till it past the well done stage. I still loved it. Your Mom used the flour as well but fried it in onions and bacon. Still the best liver I've ever had, but whenever she made it I was highly suspicious of her motives, especially because neither you nor she like it. More for me!

I think you are limited on your liver choices. You could drop ship it to me though! Or you could start the tradition of having liver every Christmas!

Rebecca said...

Lol. Thanks for your comment. I'll be keeping my liver. I figure at least I can try out a few different recipes. I once had liver in a restaurant that I greatly enjoyed. However, the liver dishes since then have not be so tasty.