Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Eat Local - Beef

Our Cow Has Been Killed!

Actually, the slaughter (sounds better, right?) was a few weeks ago. We let it hang, farmers say hang, I guess us yuppies would have said "dry age", before butchering. Today, the big hunk of cow becomes eatable cuts of meat.

Let me digress a sec. Not that I've collected data on this, but I think most people proceed towards eating local in this vein. First, they buy some fruit, say supplementing their regular marketing with a nice box of strawberries ("honey they're all red!"). Fruties migrate to veggies, but selective veg, like sugar snaps that are not at Jewel. Finally, the budding localvore will shop for most of his or her produce at farmers markets or via a CSA. And stop there. Few take the logical step to local meat.

Several factors limit local meat consumption (at least around Chicagoland). It's expensive. That to me was a big barrier. Pricey and less delicious; well not really less delicious but it's an artisan flavor not classic steakhouse flavor. It's hard to find. Only a few farmers markets carry meat. Even if meat is available, there are usually limited cuts. It's frozen. When you do chase it down, it is nearly always frozen. This cuts down on spur of the moment meals, and many people will claim the freezing detracts. Related, if you buy meat at a farmers market you have to get it home or into a very good cooler. So for many, the local eating stops where Dr. Atkins starts.

In a lot of ways, that's a shame. Green, there may be no aspect of local eating that affects the environment more than local meat. Not to get into a lot of details, but think about all of the impacts, that's 'pacts, of industrial meat production. A lot of carbon emissions involved and other wacky-bad stuff in that production. Taste, while it just won't taste like the fanciest steakhouse, it will taste special and highly delicious. I'm really glad (and fortunate) to have this source of local meat.

Over the phone today, I dissected my cow. I had studied a fair amount, and my Executive Chef Friend Evil Ronnie supplied me with the NAMP Meat Buyers Guide. My butcher, however, knew nothing of NAMP standard cuts/numbers. We worked it out. Three bigger chuck roasts, two smaller chuck roasts, one large rib roast, the rest of the rib cut into bone-in steaks; a tenderloin, a flank steak, a brisket, inch thick NY loin steaks, one sirloin roast, several sirloin steaks, 3 round roasts, 3 round steaks, beef shanks, a skirt steak, the rest of the meat ground, heart, tongue, kidneys, tail, bones (split) and kidney fat--turns out we are the first people (at least modern people) to request the suet, in fact it actually costs the locker $$ to have the fat removed, so our suet saves them money. It will all be flash frozen.

We shall pick it up, probably on Friday.

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