Sunday, September 20, 2009

Butchering the Beef - Another Fall Festival!

The meat has hung for a week now, and so its time to turn the quarters into steaks, roasts, and burger! WARNING: This is another long post, and it will show RAW meat!

It doesn't take much to butcher an animal - just a clean workspace, sharp knives, a cooler (for burger meat), and a bucket for trimmings. The cutting board saves the table, and the metal trays are for shuttleing meat into the house where the women bag it for freezing. We've been using freezer bags for years instead of wrapping paper - much faster and better for the meat, too! Not very expensive when you watch for a sale at Wal-Mart...
So... everything is clean and sharp - lets get going!
The main work is trimming all the meat for hamburger. A little time here saves ALOT of time during grinding. Cut the meat strips thin enough to feed easily into your grinder.
Here you can see stripping the meat from the ribs. Not much wasted here!
The best knives for butchering are sharp fillet knives - they bone the meat easily and quickly.
Here is a flank of the animal - the rib and side meat have been stripped off, and half of the loin removed. The loin will be cut into steaks. Yum!

We like to cut our steaks about 1" thick.
Makes you hungry just looking at it, doesn't it!

Here is a loin strip cut into steaks.

Besides steaks, we also take the nicer, larger pieces of meat off the shoulders as roasts.
We typically get about 40-50 roasts of a Beef... depending on how big we make the roasts. We cut them large enough to feed 6-7 people at a time. They are big roasts!

The ribs on the front of the animal make the best BBQ ribs - here is where the sawz-all comes in handy!
It works best when you cut the meat on both sides first, so the sawz-all is only cutting bone. Fast and easy!
Also, now is a good time to emphasize the importance of CLEANING all the equipment frequently with bleach! Keep it all clean!

And the cleaner and more careful we are, the easier it is to butcher. As we cut up the animal, we carefully inspect and trim off dirty or "old" looking meat from the carcass, to toss into the trimmings bucket. Suiet and fat also get trimmed.
We did well keeping this one clean - look how little trimmings we ended up with. Most of it is fat and suiet. Nice!

The majority of the meat is stripped and goes into hamburger. Ground Chuck is more like it - the burger is FANTASTIC!
This year we have about 400 lbs of burger meat to grind. The jugs are clean and frozen to keep the meat cold in the cooler.

Here are all the roasts and steaks in the freezer. This is ALOT of meat to put in all at once! We monitor and keep tabs on the freezer - sometimes the heavy workload can trip a breaker, so keep an eye on things!
This year we have over 350 lbs of steaks and roasts. 43 roasts total.

And here is whats left of the crazy cow. You can see the bones are picked pretty clean.
This 1200 lbs steer yielded at least 750 lbs of meat - 70% is typical for an animal over 18 months, and this one was a big Angus.
I was worried about him not being fat enough, but he had been eating well while in the wild! Some of the best beef we've had to-date!
The butchering process took about 5.5 hours this year. The kids weren't around to help as much, but we are getting faster at it. This is our 3rd cow, and there have been many deer and elk before these. We figure it saves us about $5-600 in slaughter and cut/wrap fees.
Plus it is fun and always interesting.