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Splitting a Cow and Save Money??
Old 02-07-2009, 01:03 PM   #1
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Splitting a Cow and Save Money??

We got invited to share a cow with a group of guys from the "cool Daddy" club I belong to. Apparently, someone in the group know farmers and they done this once or twice before. I was wonder if anyone here done anything like this before? That's a lot of meat to share with 7-8 families and how is it gonna be fair and/or economically??

enuff

ps. they said we can also do a pig too.
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:27 PM   #2
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Didn't work for us. turns out if you split a cow giving 2 gallons of milk per day you don't each get a gallon of milk. OTOH, after splitting the cow your feed costs are nil.

We have done the meat split several times with friends. works out well if you want 1/2 a cow or pig - it does mean that you end up with cuts of meat you don't usually buy. Good thing is you can get a local beef that isn't feedlot raised and maybe is free of growth hormones or is of a breed you prefer. In our case, hamburger is something we find easy to work with, and we had a bunch of the cow ground up - made the split a lot simpler - steaks & burgers 1/2 and 1/2 - y'all keep the liver/heart/bones 'cause i don't want 'em.
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Old 02-07-2009, 04:41 PM   #3
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I've done a cow split before. It worked out well but you have to know what cuts you want and what you don't want. A decent butcher can tell you what he'll get from a cow of a certain weight. Most people would want to maximize things like T-bones and ribeyes but you will get a decent amount of flank steaks and round steaks if you just say to maximize steaks. We Texicans love brisket but most yankees don't. There's a lot to a cow so know how you want your split done.

How the cow was fed out will have a big impact on its taste. Feedlots do a lot of good to what we eat and your family won't be too happy with a stringy range cow.

Hogs are pretty much the same but you will end up with a lot of pork sausage no matter what you want. There's many things in a pig you don't really see in the supermarket meatcase. Bacon has to be cured so that probably isn't anything your butcher will do. If you murder bambis, grinding this into venison/port sausage works out well.
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Enuff2Eat View Post
We got invited to share a cow with a group of guys from the "cool Daddy" club I belong to. Apparently, someone in the group know farmers and they done this once or twice before. I was wonder if anyone here done anything like this before? That's a lot of meat to share with 7-8 families and how is it gonna be fair and/or economically??

enuff

ps. they said we can also do a pig too.
The average small family will use about one beef quarter per year, and still have plenty opportunity to eat pork, lamb, and some fish and shellfish. We used to share with a guy who had less money than us- he took the forequarter, we took the hindquarter plus some loin end rib steaks. We got more meat, plus paid a little more per pound. He got some steaks, some chuck roasts, and a whole lot of hamburger which many families prefer anyway, and he saved more money.

You can easily add a half hog to this- you get some bacon, a ham, some nice rib chops and loin roasts, lots of sausage, and a shoulder which makes a splendid barbecue. I also took the innards from both- livers, kidneys, beef and hog tripe. Processing this was up to me. I like to make menudo, my wife made good French and Italian tripe stews. Both kidneys and liver are exquisite skewered and broiled over charcoal.

If I could figure out a place to put a small freezer in my apt, I might see if I can pick up some cheap orts from a country slaughterhouse. You can make some exotic dishes pretty cheap with this stuff.

Some cuts are so much better than others, I don't how you could go together unless each person could take a quarter. And remember, as always, the best part is below the waist.

Ha
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:33 PM   #5
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Have done 1/4 cow, pig, and custom cut turkey. I no longer have a separate freezer. Will order another custom turkey for this fall.
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:15 PM   #6
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Save the "ox tail" (the culinary name for the tail of a beef animal) for me!

Ox tail provides the most magnificent stew or soup imaginable.

You would think this would be hard to sell, but when I see it, it goes for over $4/#. Lots of bone, cartilage & fat in that #, but mmmmm, does it cook down to something delicious. I don't do organ meats, but I love ox-tail.

My folks would take a butchered steer from our farm. Lots of hamburger, but lots of steak too. These days, I've developed a real fondness for rib-eye. I'll spend the $ they ask to get what I want. Not sure I'd want to average my cost over all those different cuts of meat.

OTOH, if you are into cooking, it could be a challenge - many overlooked cuts (like Ox tail) are wonderful when properly prepared. Maybe it's too easy to just go with what is familiar?

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Old 02-07-2009, 09:27 PM   #7
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OTOH, if you are into cooking, it could be a challenge - many overlooked cuts (like Ox tail) are wonderful when properly prepared. -ERD50
Haven't done beef in better than 10 years, but I used to really like oxtail stew. But I am thinking about a coop community supported agriculture deal for the same reason: you get whatever you get and I'd have fun figuring out what to do with the unfamiliar stuff.
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:29 PM   #8
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Save the "ox tail" (the culinary name for the tail of a beef animal) for me!

Ox tail provides the most magnificent stew or soup imaginable.

You would think this would be hard to sell, but when I see it, it goes for over $4/#. Lots of bone, cartilage & fat in that #, but mmmmm, does it cook down to something delicious. I don't do organ meats, but I love ox-tail.

My folks would take a butchered steer from our farm. Lots of hamburger, but lots of steak too. These days, I've developed a real fondness for rib-eye. I'll spend the $ they ask to get what I want. Not sure I'd want to average my cost over all those different cuts of meat.

OTOH, if you are into cooking, it could be a challenge - many overlooked cuts (like Ox tail) are wonderful when properly prepared. Maybe it's too easy to just go with what is familiar?

-ERD50
I recall father (electrician) getting paid in livestock. Tail and tongue and heart... all good.
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:50 PM   #9
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I never could cook a steak at home that tastes as good as in a restaurant.
Let say a simple New York strip - what's the trick - how to prepare broil, pan fry, etc?
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:07 PM   #10
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My in-laws do this all the time. But they literally get the whole cow in a few different pieces and butcher themselves. It can be intimidating seeing huge cow legs hanging from the back porch in the middle of processing.

And oh boy do they love them some innards and tripe...

Sometimes they go halfsies with other families in the community.

Very cheap and fresh. They like to eat some cuts and other cow parts raw.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:08 PM   #11
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I never could cook a steak at home that tastes as good as in a restaurant.
Let say a simple New York strip - what's the trick - how to prepare broil, pan fry, etc?
On the other hand, I can say that I can only recall once when a restaurant prepped ribeye was better than one of mine. DW won't even order a steak or baby back ribs at a restaurant because she likes mine better. The one that I really thought was so much better was at a very high end place that aged its own beef, right there on the premises. So, it probably wasn't the cooking that made it so good, but the aging. Of course, we don't frequent those high end places, so maybe that's why DW prefers my grillin...

I usually use just wet the meat with a little mesquite smoke flavoring, season with Lowry's seasoned salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder, then grill. Sometimes I use worchestershire sauce instead of smoke flavor.

Sis got a half beef once that was not finished on grain....it was horrible...grassy, dry, stringy, and mostly tasteless. Usually I buy beef in the bag at costco (and ground beef), that way I have only what I want.

R
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:13 PM   #12
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I never could cook a steak at home that tastes as good as in a restaurant.
Let say a simple New York strip - what's the trick - how to prepare broil, pan fry, etc?
I always thought you needed to grill it. But, I've seen reports where pan frying worked well. I tried it and was super impressed. You need a good ventilation fan though.

1) Let the steak sit out for 20 minutes or so, to get near room temp.

2) Get a BIG cast iron pan hot. I mean HOT. 450F or more (you can check with an infra-red thermometer). Not just hot in spots. Hot EVERYWHERE. HOT.

3) Coat the steak with some high temp oil like Canola. Salt it. Throw it in the pan. Don't move it. It will un-stick once a crust is formed - trust me. Give it about 3 minutes.

4) Turn. Give it another 3 minutes.

5) Turn and take off heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes to rest, turn once or twice.

6) Enjoy with a Zinfandel, Shiraz, Cab, or my proprietary Black Rye Ale. Mmmmmm. Very near to char-broiled, but more predictable, and can be done in any weather.


America's Test Kitchen presented something recently where you bake the steak at ~ 130F for a while. The idea was to get the entire steak up near finished temp, and to dry the surface which seals in the juices. Then they seared it. Interesting, but I have not tried it.

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Old 02-07-2009, 10:24 PM   #13
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The one that I really thought was so much better was at a very high end place that aged its own beef, right there on the premises. So, it probably wasn't the cooking that made it so good, but the aging.

R
Good point on the aging. I understand that can make quite a difference. We had a very good steak at a place near us, but it was something rediculous like $100/person with a bottle of wine. Unbelievably, the waiter tried to stiff us two different ways (up-sold us on our order w/o explaining that to us, then shortchanged us - deliberately, because when I called him over to "discuss" the bill, he started reaching into his pocket for the money he owed, before I mentioned being short). The upside was I complained and we got a comped dinner that we enjoyed much more. Have not been back.

Alton Brown did a bit about doing your own dry-aging of a beef standing rib roast. I never had the guts to try it, a standing rib roast is like $100. Some well-to-do friends of ours tried it and said it was amazing. You let the beef dry in your fridge for a week, I think. It is actually starting to go bad, but you trim that off. It looses something like 20% of its weight from moisture, plus what you cut off. They said it was worth it though.

-ERD50
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:36 PM   #14
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When I get a second refer for the garage (when we FIRE and move back to the states) I plan to try it. I'll have to research it well before doing it though...can't stomach the thought of losing a good standing rib roast...or a hundred bucks.

R
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which part
Old 02-08-2009, 07:51 AM   #15
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which part

which part of the cow is $16/lb how many lbs of this best part can we get? last, if i spend time for meat on-sale at the local store, ain't that just as cheap?

last, i found that the steaks in the restaurant are always better than the ones we cook as home because someone else does the cooking for us and we actually get to taste the food without worrying about doing dishes later.

enuff
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:47 AM   #16
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I did a 1/4 cow once split with family member, it was a good deal. lots of stuff, as prev. mentioned, that we dont normally get, so we had lots of hamburgers. it was well worth it if you eat beef. my wife is on a "oh, those poor cows" kick right now so our beef intake is limited
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:33 AM   #17
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which part of the cow is $16/lb how many lbs of this best part can we get? last, if i spend time for meat on-sale at the local store, ain't that just as cheap?

last, i found that the steaks in the restaurant are always better than the ones we cook as home because someone else does the cooking for us and we actually get to taste the food without worrying about doing dishes later.

enuff

We did a 1/2 cow about 6-8 months ago, still have some left. We opted for the more hamburger part instead of stew meat, etc.

Bro who is/was a butcher said it wasn't worth it b/c at $2.65 a pound (IIRC) you are buying all the bone, fat, etc. that you won't be eating not to mention some of the cuts of meat that you would not normally get if you were picking and choosing (a crock pot helps with the roasts).
He says stocking up on the sales that come through when they come is a better deal and you can pick and choose. It is easy for him to say if he is working in the store and knows when the deals are coming

I can never get the steak to taste as good as a steak house either (Ruby River is a favorite).
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:10 PM   #18
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I've done the half cow thing - steaks weren't that good. Ground beef, roasts, were fine though. It is a pain storing unless you get a freezer (my wife freaks if she doesn't have room for her ice cream). Finding meat on sale at the grocery store works better for us, although quality and price does differ from store to store.

Now, about cooking a steak at home.

Frying
steak? In a pan? On the stove?

Don't you guys own grills?

Okay, here's the secrets to a great steak at home - as I see it anyway.

Better quality meat is the first key. It's more expensive, so look for sales.

M-a-r-i-n-a-t-e. I use Worcestershire, Soy Sauce, and a cheap wine. Apply spices liberally (fresh ground pepper, kosher salt, paprika, garlic, onion, dill, red pepper flakes) and refrigerate for several hours.

Hot grill with some olive oil applied just before tossing the meat on.

There is a continuing argument out there about searing the meat to seal in the juices. I think that is probably bunk, but I like the appearance, texture and taste of a good steak that has been seared a bit. Not to the point of making the exterior have the texture of shoe leather, just to toughen it up a little while leaving the inside tender and moist.

After searing to my personal taste (I look for some good grill marks) put it on a cooler part of the fire and reapply spices. Watch the juices! When the juices coming off the meat are no longer red, and have more clear fluid (sort of pink looking), put some oil back on the hot part of the grill and flip it over onto there. Cook until temperature reaches 130-145. Anything over 150 (medium well) and you might as well have just bought the cheapest meat on the market and burn the hell out of it.

Avoid flipping the steaks too many times. Once is perfection, but it takes a little practice timing it just right. I think if you flip too many times you wind up toughening the meat and drying it out. Think of pancakes, you only flip them once.

Set the steaks on something to cool. A plate is okay, but a wire cooling rack is even better. High heat makes the meat contract and pull the liquids in to the center, leaving the periphery dry. Resting allows the liquid to expand back away from the center and makes the steak juicier. Five minutes of resting is perfect. Serve and enjoy.
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Old 02-08-2009, 03:00 PM   #19
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Just did a half beef and whole hog 2 months ago, beef price worked out to ~$2.40/lb and pork was around ~$2.10. This included processing and purchase price. Steer was black angus, grained out last month or so and alot of meat. Filled a large and small chest freezer. Overall, DW likes the availability to choose without having to run to store or watch sales. It's just the two of us but we also filled the kids freezer.

We bought a new grill and it made a huge difference on the taste of the steaks, old grill had hot/cool spots and you ended up baking the steak rather than searing it. Difficult to enjoy a restaurant steak now.

The butcher who did the pig cured the hams and bacon on premises, not sure if that is "kosher" across the country.

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Old 02-08-2009, 06:38 PM   #20
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Bought a pig freezer ready several years ago; twice in the past have bought a custom cut beef hind quarter (one was aged by the butcher on site).

Grass fed beef can be tender, but it takes a lot of work on the side of the rancher. (If they gain then lose weight then gain, they will become tough and stringy.)

Last year I purchased a custom cut free range turkey from a local farm, expensive but good.

How I cook steak (favorite cut is chuck): well seasoned cast iron skillet on gas stove, preheated 'til smoking, (slice off small bits and eat raw while waiting) put in steak, 4 or 5 minutes depending on thickness, flip, 3 or 4 minutes depending on thickness

If done just right: crispy on outside, body temperature in the middle

Just a touch of soy sauce and garlic powder
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