Lots of Meat!

Even a small steer like Herman Beefsteak produces a lot of meat. At the butchery, the weight of his skinned carcass was 255kg. This didn’t include the tail and offal, which we kept aside at home. Both Lloyd (the slaughterman) and Ngaire (our wonderful butcher) guessed Herman’s age at around 15 months. He was actually only 11 months old, but considering how well the grass grew this season, and considering that he had access to his mother’s milk until his dying day, it’s not surprising that he grew faster than average. It’s probably more normal to slaughter an animal at 18 months old, in order to get more meat. In our case, we only wanted to carry three animals through the winter, in order to avoid the possibility of running out of grass. That’s why we slaughtered our steer at just 11 months. So. . . what have we done with all that meat?

Owen gums a piece of delicious rump steak

For starters, we have given half of the meat to our neighbours, Dennis and Mary. We have an arrangement with them that they will share half the meat from each of Rosie and Coco’s calves in return for grazing our animals on their pasture. We are pleased to say that Dennis and Mary now have a freezer full of beef to share with their six children.

The other half of the meat is for us — me, Kevin, Owen, and my parents. We do not have a large chest freezer here on the Farmlet, but my parents do have one out at the coast. They are keeping most of the meat in their freezer. We visit them often, so it will be easy to pick up some meat whenever we are over there.

When Kevin, Owen and I went to pick up the meat from the butcher, we could barely squeeze all the boxes of meat into our little car. Boxes were jammed into the trunk, and wedged into the back seat next to Owen’s baby seat. We had to leave the box of drippings to pick up next time we are in town. And that was only half the meat! Dennis and Mary had already collected their share earlier in the day.

We were happy to support a fine local business like “Personal Choice Meats” by having our steer processed there. Ngaire, the butcher, has an excellent reputation around here for running a clean business and taking pride in her work. She was really helpful when it came to deciding what cuts of meat to choose, and gave me advice about how to make customised additive-free sausage fill for the sausages. Since we were taking the meat to my parents’ freezer, I was glad she could blast freeze it for us. This saved the hassle of blood leaking into the freezer from lots of unfrozen meat. It also saved my parents the hassle of having to keep turning the meat as it froze to stop it all sticking together in a great big lump!

Kevin looked very happy after we picked up the meat, as Ngaire had praised its quality and tenderness. She noted: “that steer wouldn’t have wanted to be any fatter.” (Lloyd said that it looked too fat!) For our part, we are pretty pleased to have raised a nice fat beast. We think the fat is very useful and tasty. Also, we are not suffering from fat phobia: Pasture-raised beef fat is health food in our book!

We are all enjoying the delicious meat. So far, we have tried scotch fillet, rump steak, sausages and shin-on-the-bone. The steaks were wonderfully tender and juicy. Owen has been given a piece of rare steak to gnaw on during dinner, and looked like he was taking the job very seriously. Did he just squish the piece of steak and play with it? No. It went straight into his mouth! No worries about that. So far, meat is one of Owen’s favourite foods (next to cod liver oil, which is the most favoured treat of all!). We are glad to have an abundant source of healthy organic beef for our baby to enjoy.

Kevin and I were especially excited to try the sausages. We refrain from eating “regular” commercial sausages in order to avoid MSG, preservatives, and other unhealthy ingredients in the sausage fill. The only additive-free sausage we’ve found around here was too expensive for our budget. It is wonderful now to eat a meal of tasty sausages, knowing that they contain only the special fill that I supplied to our butcher. What was in the fill? We kept it simple: Rice flour, sea salt, cayenne pepper, ground cumin.

(Note: According to Ngaire, iodised “table salt” should be avoided in the preparation of sausage and preserves. We don’t use “table salt” in any of our food, in any case, so this was no hassle.)

The sausages came out really tasty, with just a hint of spiciness from the cayenne pepper.

My parents have also enjoyed a meal of rump steak, and we all tried the shin-on-the-bone when we were over at my parents’ place for dinner last night. Mum put beef shin and vegetables in the slow cooker to make a delicious soup.

More culinary adventures are in store:

I’m planning to render the drippings to make tallow, and boil up lots of the bones to make rich and healthful stock. We are looking forward to beef liver pate, steak and kidney pie, pot roast, rib roast, corned beef tongue, oxtail barley soup, beef stew, sourdough crackers and pastry made with beef tallow, beef chile, empanadas, spicy meatloaf. . . I hope to be posting some beef recipes on this website in the not-too-distant future.

8 Responses to “Lots of Meat!”

  1. Emily says:

    I would ask, “Won’t you get tired of beef?” Except this past summer, I got a homekilled lamb and a half, and I never tired of eating that sweet, delicious, organic meat. I was sad when I got to the last package in the freezer. Local homekill is the way to go1

  2. Rebecca says:

    Hi Emily,
    No, we are not too worried about getting sick of eating beef. Mind you, we are not planning to stop enjoying treats of fresh-caught fish when we are lucky enough to get some! And we still have some lamb left in our freezer. . .

  3. Esther says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    Did you consume milk and water kefir beverages and Kombucha when you were pregnant?

    I’m taking raw milk and making yogurt with the milk, homemade sauerkraut and above the items. Most websites said NOT to consume all these when pregnant, but I’m in 2 minds -somehow I’m pro eating all these lacto-fermented food instead of against. Would love to hear you comment on this.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Hi Esther,

    I did consume raw milk, milk kefir, water kefir, raw milk yoghurt, and homemade lacto-fermented vegetables during pregnancy. Quite similar to what you are doing. I didn’t drink kombucha because I only got the culture after I became pregnant and didn’t want to start taking something new at that time. I probably would have felt fine about continuing to drink it if I had already been having it beforehand.

    Despite mainstream warnings to avoid raw milk and cultured products, I felt comfortable with my choices. This was partly due to my confidence in the freshness and healthiness of our milk supply. . . and partly because those same items made me feel so healthy. How could they be bad for me?

    I also read some intelligent and well-researched material from the Weston A. Price Foundation about the safety and benefits of raw milk and natural probiotics. This gave me further confidence in what I was doing. (Their website will probably be really interesting to you if you haven’t already seen it.)

    Wishing you the very best!

  5. Johanna says:

    Hi Rebecca – I’m really interested to know if you’re planning to use the tallow for soapmaking or cooking or both?

    Best wishes

  6. Rebecca says:

    Hi Johanna,

    We’re using the tallow for cooking. I like the idea of making our own soap, and hope to do so one day, but it’s still quite far down my “to do” list at the moment.


  7. Joseph says:

    No iodised salt? How do you get iodine in your diet then? NZ soil being deficient in the stuff.

    I mean, you don’t want goiters do you?

  8. Rebecca says:

    Hi Joseph,
    We get iodine primarily from eating various kinds of sea food. We also put fish scraps and seaweed in our compost and in our gardens, and give kelp to our animals.