Monday, June 23, 2008

Where's the Beef?

Well, it's all the rage these days and God knows I love to be up on the latest trends! Yesterday, about 170 lbs of prime (USDA's highest grade) beef showed up at my house. I shared a cow with 3 other families. I know that 170 lbs of meat (1/4 cow) sounds daunting so I thought I'd break it down for you and show you what you're getting.

First step is finding a farmer. I had conversations with several vendors at our local farmer's market. (You can also check out Local Harvest) All of them sold there beef by the side or half side as well as what they were offering at the market. Now, a farmer cannot legally sell you the meat from 1/2 a cow so you end up buying a part of the cow from the farmer and then buying the processing from the packing house. We ended up getting our 1/4 cow from a farmer in Iowa (father of a woman in the neighborhood) who sells his prime grade, grass fed, anti-biotic free, hormone free beef to a couple of the high end steakhouses in Kansas City (not the city I live in.)

Different farmers sell their beef differently. If you only want a 1/4 cow, some farmers make you choose the front quarter or the back quarter. Well, one has all the steaks and the other all the roasts. So I wanted a deal where I could just evenly split up all the cuts.

My 1/4 share of the cow had a hanging weight of 228 lbs. That's the weight of the 1/4 hanging on the hook waiting to be processed. I paid the farmer $1.49lb and the meat locker 43 cents a lb. My bill to the farmer was $339 and my bill to the locker including processing was $120. Making my total bill $460. That would make my beef $2.70 lb. I can barely find hamburger or stew meat for that price, much less prime anti-biotic free, hormone-free, grass fed beef. Have you seen the prices for that stuff?!

So, how much meat is that? you ask. Here's how it showed up.

Inside each box the meat was frozen and packed in coolers.

Here's the breakdown.

(All these weights are approximate)
19 x 2lbs ground beef
8 x 2lbs of ground beef patties
4 x 1lb of liver (for Humphrey)
2 x 5lbs of sirloin steaks
2 x 5 lbs of T bone steaks
6 x 4lb roasts
2 x 5 lbs of short ribs
4 x 5 lbs of rib steak
10 lbs of stew meat
3 x 5 lbs of round steak
3 x large package of soup bones

This filled one small chest freezer we have in the basement.

A little tip about grass fed beef. It comes out a lot leaner than corn fed beef. So, you don't want to cook it as long or else it can come out dry. I also use marinades that have some extra fat in them to help keep the meat moist. And with hamburgers I add a little really really soft butter into the mix before I make patties, again to add a little fat to the meat to keep it moist. But, if you get used to cooking it right, it is absolutely deeeeeelicious. Yummy.


Melanie said...

How long with that meat last for your family? How often during the week will you eat/make a meal with that meat?

Jenny said...

Wow! That is a lot of meat!
I bet Humphrey was/will be pleased with his portion

Mel said...

Clearly no vegans in the fam! I tried to make roast beef last night, it was grey and horrible and reminded me why I don't waste money on exspensive cuts of meat when I don't know how to cook them.

annie said...

I see someone already asked... but I'm curious too -how long will that last for your size family? Seems like a great deal to me.

Cakes said...

As far as how long it will last, I'm not really sure. This is the first year we have done this. This particular farmer only slaughters once a year, so we won't be able to order again until then but I'm thinking it will last at least 8-9 months.

I'm figuring I cook meat 4-5 times a week but that includes fish, chicken, pork, and lamb. But, we do eat mostly beef and chicken.

There was a great deal going on at my grocery store for whole chickens at 19cents a pound. I bought 15. So I shouldn't need to buy meat for awhile. Just a little diversity now and again.

Rae said...

This cow, where in iowa was it from? We raise cattle and if you ever need more let me know it would be traceable. That to me is so important b/c then i know, or the farmer knows, what, if any, meds it was given. I will never buy hamburger/steak/ froma store again! (or not if i can help it!) We just got a 1/4 cow ourselves and for our family of only 4 (2 small ones) it should last us 6-9 months. We eat a lot of hamburger so i get as much of that as i can!
Enjoy your meat! nothing like Iowa beef if you ask me:)

PS i have a website too of our local 'Meat shop' and they ship

ccap said...

Being a farm girl that stack of meat looks rather familiar.

And not at ALL about meat: I bought my wrap and have been using it pretty much every day. I LOVE it. I only wish I would have had one for #1.

Kristi said...

Wow that is awesome. I'm especially impressed that it's a grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free cow! I wouldn't have the slightest clue what to do with all of that meat, or where to store it, but what a fabulous idea!!

Multi-tasking Mom said...

I'm so jealous! We do have a great butcher down the road who sells grass-fed local beef, and makes up some nice "freezer packs". Now my DH just wants to move to a farm big enough to grow our own.

Caitlin said...

I have a friend who splits hald a cow with her parents and it lasts them all a year. They each have 2 in their family. I would love to do this. Even live in Iowa, so I really should... :)

Raquita said...

DROOLING and now I want a steak.