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Buying a half cow


jonnymikes
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I need to spend some more time on their website before responding, which in and of itself is really impressive!  Warrenton is home territory for me, and while I am not surprised to find this farm there, I was not aware of it.  On first reaction, their general recommendations are great.  Bone-in, avoid grinding... So different than what you could find 20 years ago.

 

I'll get back to you with more, but a really important question is what will you cook?  Not just what do you want to cook, but also what do you have time and resources to cook.  For example I have a second half of a pork butt in the freezer that has been waiting 6 months for me to get around to.  I hate to think how long it would take me to use a half steer!

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One quick response on the marrow bones.  You are looking at leg bones here.  They are not insubstantial.  Butchers use a bandsaw for these, or maybe even a specialized saw.  It is certainly possible to cut them open otherwise, but i would expect to need to bring the big hammer.

 

PS.  A quick look on youtube shows people using a hacksaw to cut the ends off, but that does not address splitting, if you want to go that route.

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11 hours ago, curls said:

No I am not butchering it myself. I am purchasing the cow from a local farm and they will be taking it to their USDA approved processor. I'll have an appointment with the farmer to go over the cut sheet and they will relay this information to their processor. Since I haven't seen the cut sheet yet, I don't know what options are available but I do know that I don't want to let marrow bones go to waste.


A lot depends on your farmer. I’ve been buying from the same farmer for 6-7 years, so they work with me very well.

 

I prefer less ground beef and more stew meat.

I prefer fewer steaks and more roasts.

I’ll take all the soup bones and other bony cuts (tails, shanks) I can get.

I don’t want any organ meat.

 

Farmer meets these preferences by trading around amongst different lots of beef. Some of my steaks go to someone else, and I get some of their roasts. Ditto ground beef/stew meat. Ditto bony cuts/organ meat.

 

Last year’s quarter steer dressed out only about 55 pounds. This year’s was 85. My daughter will wind up with a lot of my ground beef. I also have a copious quantity of round steaks, destined fro Rouladen or braciole.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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1 hour ago, curls said:

Link to the cut sheet http://www.fauquiersfinest.com/ckfinder/userfiles/files/ff_beef_master_09_29.pdf

How would you get your cow processed?

Okay, now we are talking! I am also wondering if the absurd amount of ground that I saw when we took steers to butcher was my parent's preference, instead of just what was available.  We have used Fauquier's Finest for years.  In fact, I really am not certain if there are other options in the area.

 

So, once again, I would say avoid ground.  You will want some, but it piles up quickly, and I have never been impressed by the ground we got from FF.  I have a few pounds in the freezer, but I have never been excited by anything I made from it other than chili.
 

Front Quarter

I personally would get the brisket cut in half.  You could save a few pennies by cutting it in half yourself, but you will be receiving it frozen, so…

 

Rib plate-  once again, I would leave the cuts as intact as possible, unless you know that you will want them cut shorter-  For me, whole plate.
 

Shank- I am torn here.  I have cooked up the "soup bones" as a braise numerous times with wonderful results.  But i still would probably go with the thicker "osso bucco" cut.
 

Rib- Bone in steaks for me.  A whole rib roast is more than I ever have occasion to prepare.  If I want an eye for some reason, then I can cut that out and save or cook the rest separately.  In fact, that is exactly what I did the last time I fixed these, a few months ago.  I had a package of two that was too big to fit in my pan.  So I removed the eyes and fixed them for my wife and daughter.  Then I cooked the (chewier, tastier) rest for myself.  Bones were cut off and refrozen for making stock later.  (NB.  From our animals, these have been cut thinner than I would prefer.  Specify thicker cuts, if you can.)

 

 

Steak/Roast – Bone in Chuck Roast for me

 

 

B/L Chuck Steak – Check 4 of 4 options seems to be what the sheet says… Follow the instructions I guess. I am less certain in this section.

 

 

 

Hind Quarter

 

Flank – leave whole

 

 

Short loin – this is one area where the Bone in does not do it for me. Maybe if ( once again) you can get the steaks cut thicker than my parents have. My experience is that on 1” or under cuts, it is difficult to get an even cook on these steaks with the bone in. So, for me, Filet and NY Strip

 

 

The rest of the hind quarter I do not have strong opinions on. Others can probably say more than me.

 

 

Organs- As you like. I would not pass up the tongue, myself. Give it the corned beef treatment and it is amazing!

Edited by donk79 (log)
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I just saw the steak thickness option listed toward the top of the sheet.  I'd go for the full 2" there!  Yes, it means that you are cooking a lot of meat at once, but it is so much easier to cook well!

Edited by donk79 (log)
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@kayb and @donk79 thank you so much!

 

23 hours ago, kayb said:


A lot depends on your farmer. I’ve been buying from the same farmer for 6-7 years, so they work with me very well.

 

I prefer less ground beef and more stew meat.

I prefer fewer steaks and more roasts.

I’ll take all the soup bones and other bony cuts (tails, shanks) I can get.

I don’t want any organ meat.

 

Farmer meets these preferences by trading around amongst different lots of beef. Some of my steaks go to someone else, and I get some of their roasts. Ditto ground beef/stew meat. Ditto bony cuts/organ meat.

 

Last year’s quarter steer dressed out only about 55 pounds. This year’s was 85. My daughter will wind up with a lot of my ground beef. I also have a copious quantity of round steaks, destined fro Rouladen or braciole.

I did not realize that round steaks could be used for Rouladen or braciole. I have not cooked either but have fond memories of the Rouladen my Omas used to make. I'll definitely see if I can get some round steaks from this cow. Hopefully my husband will like rouladen too (he tends to like steaks much more than braised beef).

 

 

On 4/4/2022 at 9:49 AM, donk79 said:

I need to spend some more time on their website before responding, which in and of itself is really impressive!  Warrenton is home territory for me, and while I am not surprised to find this farm there, I was not aware of it.  On first reaction, their general recommendations are great.  Bone-in, avoid grinding... So different than what you could find 20 years ago.

 

I'll get back to you with more, but a really important question is what will you cook?  Not just what do you want to cook, but also what do you have time and resources to cook.  For example I have a second half of a pork butt in the freezer that has been waiting 6 months for me to get around to.  I hate to think how long it would take me to use a half steer!

I have been buying meats and eggs from the Whiffletree Farm store for a few years. Nice people and good products. Since you are nearby,  I definitely recommend that you visit them.

 

Yes, I want to minimize the amount of ground beef and maximize the steaks. I will not be going thru a half steer -- I am splitting the half steer with a friend. Not sure how long it will take us to get thru a quarter steer but we're going to find out. Also hoping that my friend and I will be in agreement about how to have the cow processed (or at least come to some good trades and compromises). The grocery store meat prices keep going up and if we're going to keep eating beef, I would prefer to lock in the price for a year (or so) and to support a local farm.

Edited by curls (log)
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23 hours ago, donk79 said:

Okay, now we are talking! I am also wondering if the absurd amount of ground that I saw when we took steers to butcher was my parent's preference, instead of just what was available.  We have used Fauquier's Finest for years.  In fact, I really am not certain if there are other options in the area.

 

So, once again, I would say avoid ground.  You will want some, but it piles up quickly, and I have never been impressed by the ground we got from FF.  I have a few pounds in the freezer, but I have never been excited by anything I made from it other than chili.
 

Front Quarter

I personally would get the brisket cut in half.  You could save a few pennies by cutting it in half yourself, but you will be receiving it frozen, so…

 

Rib plate-  once again, I would leave the cuts as intact as possible, unless you know that you will want them cut shorter-  For me, whole plate.
 

Shank- I am torn here.  I have cooked up the "soup bones" as a braise numerous times with wonderful results.  But i still would probably go with the thicker "osso bucco" cut.
 

Rib- Bone in steaks for me.  A whole rib roast is more than I ever have occasion to prepare.  If I want an eye for some reason, then I can cut that out and save or cook the rest separately.  In fact, that is exactly what I did the last time I fixed these, a few months ago.  I had a package of two that was too big to fit in my pan.  So I removed the eyes and fixed them for my wife and daughter.  Then I cooked the (chewier, tastier) rest for myself.  Bones were cut off and refrozen for making stock later.  (NB.  From our animals, these have been cut thinner than I would prefer.  Specify thicker cuts, if you can.)

 

 

Steak/Roast – Bone in Chuck Roast for me

 

 

B/L Chuck Steak – Check 4 of 4 options seems to be what the sheet says… Follow the instructions I guess. I am less certain in this section.

 

 

 

Hind Quarter

 

Flank – leave whole

 

 

Short loin – this is one area where the Bone in does not do it for me. Maybe if ( once again) you can get the steaks cut thicker than my parents have. My experience is that on 1” or under cuts, it is difficult to get an even cook on these steaks with the bone in. So, for me, Filet and NY Strip

 

 

The rest of the hind quarter I do not have strong opinions on. Others can probably say more than me.

 

 

Organs- As you like. I would not pass up the tongue, myself. Give it the corned beef treatment and it is amazing!

 

Thank you so much for all this detail! Definitely helps me think thru the process.

 

Yes, I definitely want the tongue, hanging tender, and skirt that Fauquiers Finest lists as organ meats. I see that they list the tail as well and I'm guessing that is what is used in ox tail soup (which I have enjoyed a time or too -- just haven't cooked it myself). The other organs (liver, heart, kidneys, sweetbreads) I don't want to let go to waste but I have no experience cooking them (I do love chicken livers) and I don't think that my friend has cooked with these either.

 

Thanks for letting me know that the marrow bones are from the shank. I think that I will go with "osso bucco" cut and enjoy the marrow with the meat. Probably easier to deal with it this way then trying to get canoe cut marrow bones from this steer.

 

I plan to discuss the cut sheet with my friend and see how we can each get what we want out of this 1/2 steer. Our processing date is in mid May so it will be awhile before I get to pick up the beef.

 

@kayband @donk79 how do you transport your beef from the processor/farmer to your home? Lots of coolers or just boxes? When I pick it up, the beef will be frozen and vacuum packed.

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2 hours ago, curls said:

 

 

@kayband @donk79 how do you transport your beef from the processor/farmer to your home? Lots of coolers or just boxes? When I pick it up, the beef will be frozen and vacuum packed.

 

Depends on how far you're going. My farmers are about an hour away. Meat is frozen to a lower temp than my home freezer will go. They will generally bring to town in giant heavy plastic bags (30-40 pounds per), in chest freezers they have in a trailer that's fitted for 110 current and runs off their truck battery. I meet them, throw in my trunk, and come home (20 minutes) and put away, with no issues.

 

If you are transporting more than an hour, I'd recommend packing snugly in heavy cardboard boxes and covering/wrapping with blankets/quilts. It's hard to scare up enough coolers to transport that much beef. It won't thaw any in that period of time, packed closely together and covered to preserve the cold. If you're nervous about it, throw in some cold packs or dry ice.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Yes, some big coolers would be good, but whatever you can improvise should do you fine. Think of it as over a hundred pounds of ice.  Lots of thermal mass there!

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