I have a bit of a beef to share with you.
It’s good beef.
Good, Australian beef.
I know, because I researched it.
It’s a fact that we live in a society where, for the most part, people are content to swoop into the supermarket, pick up sanitary, plastic-wrapped slabs of meat and swoop back out again. Many of the plastic wrapped slabs come marinated, dry rubbed, or minced and diced before being partnered with chopped vegetables, ready to be ‘stir fried for a healthy meal’.
In swoop style shopping, there’s little thought from the consumer regarding to the breeding or background of the animal, the farm, or the conditions in which the animal lived before it became dinner fodder. Personally, I don’t find this approach well… palatable. Whilst I do stop short of suggesting we ask for parentage and pedigree of every plate of protein, I do suggest we all should know from where, exactly, our food comes from before parting with hard earned dollars in exchange for nutrition and sustenance.
Today, I bought a cow. Well, half a cow. Grass fed, and raised in Kyogle NSW and butchered to our specs. I’m grateful for the butchering, because although it’s a skill I’d LOVE to explore, I think starting with something somewhat smaller than a cow would be more suitable.
My cow was a happy cow, raised on farmland, with room to roam. It was a relaxed cow, a grass munching, bird watching, free-wheeling bovine. As an omnivorous humanitarian, I respect the beast by choosing that my food has had a life consuming the nutrients that eventually, will feed me.
How much do you know about the meat you consume? Do you venture past the topside roast and fillet steaks in the swoop-ermarket? And if you were to consider buying a cow, do you know which cuts are what?
The quickie catalogue of cow cuts.
The prime cuts are the ones best used for roasting. These are the ones you usually find at eye level in the supermarkets. Rib eye, scotch filet, sirloin, rump. They are the most tender cuts because they are from the less used muscles along the back of the animal. The more active muscles, such as the shoulder, flank, and leg will produce beef that is a little less tender, but very flavourful because they have more marbling. Marbling means fat and fat means flavour and flavour means good.
The cuts from the front of the animal – chuck and round and shin – are from body parts that are heavily exercised and do more work. This means they are less tender, and wonderful for slow cooking. Good slow cooked beef gives that incredible mouth feel of soft, almost gelatinous moistness that comes down to one thing: sinew. Sinew breaks down and softens with slow cooking and as the proteins change the result is wonderfully soft meat that pulls apart with your fork.
Since the most tender cuts are the prime cuts and make up only a small proportion of a carcass, they are most commonly sought and usually command a higher price than other cuts. The price usually drops as you move down the animal, with chuck, short ribs, shin, oxtail, cheeks, neck at the bottom of the scale in their sinewy deliciousness.
So, tell me.
Would you be prepared to buy a cow – or consider bulk meat purchases?
Do you only buy prime cuts?
And if you were to buy in bulk, what would you do with all the scraggy bits? Or would you prefer not to even think about it and stick to swooping plastic?
**If you live in Brisbane and would like to be part of the Kyogle cow culture, please contact me. I am happy to discuss how you, too, can access this wonderful product at a fraction of what you will pay in the swoop-ermarket. I encourage you to defy the odds, venture out, purchase a chest freezer, and begin to look at ways of purchasing local, organic, or farmer raised meats.