Saturday, August 10, 2013

Meat Filled Saturday

I hate to waste food.  So when we eat chicken, we save the bones.  I have gallon zip lock bags in the freezer for the them and it's pretty easy to just put the bones in there when we are cleaning up after a meal.  I also keep the ends and skins of vegetables (mainly onions, carrots, celery, and garlic) in a gallon zip lock bag in the freezer.  When the vegetable bag is full, I usually have two or more full chicken bone bags as well.

That's when I make stock.  I don't do anything fancy, I just put everything in a big stock pot, fill it with water, and simmer it for at least 4 hours, sometimes as long as 12 hours (if I am home that long to monitor it).  Then I let it cool.  After the pan isn't too hot to touch, is use the colander part of a pasta pot to drain off the bones and big pieces of vegetables. Then I put the stock pot in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning I skim off the fat and put a few layers of cheese cloth in a colander and strain the stock through it.  Finally I have a clear stock.

Now, I have a lot of options.  I used to freeze it, sometimes in quart bags or ice cube trays, or mason jars.  But when I needed stock, I usually had forgotten to thaw it out.  Now I pressure can it.  I usually can it into pint and half pint jars.  If I am making a big soup, I might need two half pints (or a quart), but what I use broth most for is for deglazing a pan after making some sort of meat to make a pan sauce.  A half pint of stock is perfect for this job.  When I used to buy stock, I never needed that whole carton and ended up wasting at least some portion of it.  Now I have the amount that I need.

Saturday morning stock canning
 After spending the morning canning stock, it was time to go pick up our 1/4 cow!  We had ordered from a local farmer who raises grass fed beef.  She is not certified organic but does not spray the pasture and the cows are not fed antibiotics or hormones. It was a lot of money up front, but ended up costing around $4/pound which is a great price for grass fed beef. This is our first time buying meat in bulk and we weren't sure what to expect.  What does a 1/4 cow look like?  How much meat is that?  How much room will we need in our freezer? 

Our 1/4 cow with a pint jar for scale.
List of meat cuts

Well, our 1/4 cow took about 1/3 of our chest freezer and gave us lots of cuts of meat.  The hanging weight of the cow was 175 pounds.  The cut weight was 158.5 pounds plus 17 pounds in organ meats (I am not sure if we got other people's liver).  They put the meat in packages for 2 people.  The steaks were cut 3/4" thick and the ground beef was in 1 pound packages.  The meat broke down as follows:
  • 3 packages of suet (I want to make tallow for soap)
  • 32 packages of ground beef
  • 2 packages of T-bone steak
  • 5 packages of stew meat
  • 4 packages of sirloin tip steak
  • 3 packages of rib steak (anyone have ideas of how to cook this?)
  • 1 round bone roast
  • 1 blade pot roast
  • 2 packages of top sirloin steak
  • 4 packages of chuck steak (anyone have ideas of how to cook this?)
  • 4 packages of short ribs
  • 1 rump roast
  • 4 packages of top round steaks
  • 2 packages of porterhouse steaks
  • 3 packages of soup bones for beef stock
  • 1 package of tenderloin steak
  • 2 briskets (anyone have ideas of how to cook this?)
  • 1 package of flank steak (yay for jerky!)
  • 1 package of beef heart
  • 4 packages of cube steak (anyone have ideas of how to cook this?)
  • 8 packages of liver (that's a lot of liver)
I think that we are set with beef for quite a while!  We have half a pig coming in October.  We'll see how this buying meat in bulk stuff works out!

Have you ever done this?  Any good recipe ideas? 

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