Sunday, July 02, 2006

Santa Vaca! Holy Cow!

I little while ago I convinced Mouse it would be a good idea to buy a chest freezer so we could purchase bulk meat, thereby saving mucho denarii.

We bought the freezer a month or so back but only just got around to heading out to Morree Meats on Saturday morning to pick up one of these:-

Actually, these are hind quarters. We bought a whole side which is about twice the size or 60 kg (or about what Coz weighs, not that I'm making any strange suggestions there).

It was actually a rather a daunting process to begin with. A half a cow looks pretty big and we were wondering if we'd bitten off more than we could chew (so to speak). We also had no idea how a cow is butchered and what sort of options are available as to choice of cuts etc.

The fellow who butchered the side for us was called Ted, who was a master of his craft and something of a showman as well. Not only did he amaze us for the next hour with his dazzling display of knifemanship, but he kept up a rather witty banter during the process with jokes, cooking tips and suggestions on what sort of cuts we might like.

For intance, apparently boneless brisket is great for making stock for clear soups as bones make the stock cloudy. Once you've made the stock he suggested removing the brisket, chilling it, slicing it thinly and serving it with horse raddish.

And the tail is apparently an aphrodisiac. Ted warned Mouse to be very carefull when she cooked it (I wonder if he trying to convince us the tail was a different part of the cows anatomy?)

While this was going on an old couple turned up asking for a pigs head, which was duly delivered and dubbed 'Joe', the name of the other butcher on duty. In the end they bought 2 for $5 a piece. All I can say is, next 'Family Favourites' dinner you can all look forward to the real thing!

I'll admit I was hungover from the previous evening, which may have contributed, but watching the initial stages of the dismemberment made me distinctly queasy. As the process continued it was fascinating the see the animal that was recognizably a half a cow turn into the t-bones, scotch fillet and roasts that I was more familiar, and argulably more comfortable, with.

Ted joked that he'd recently downloaded the latest Texas Chainsaw Massacare movie off the net and found that it wasn't gorey at all. Not surprising for a man who makes a living from dismembering animals. And some of the bones did look amazing, particularly the leg joints which looked for all the world like the finest white porcelain.

In any case, over the course of the hour Ted turned what you see in the picture above into this:

60kg of half cow turned out to give 41kg of mostly very lean meat. We had some of the fillet yesterday as peper steak and it was just mouth wateringly delicious. There's also the 2kg of ribs that I'm kind of excited about marinating and slow roasting in the turkinator some time soon (you are, of course, all invited).

Was it value for money? We weighed all the amounts of each kind of cut we got and geekily compared the bulk price to the price we'd have paid at the local butcher. It turned out that the $370 we paid for the side would have only cost $430 as piecemeal purchases from the local butcher.

It would hardly seem worth the effort (hanging about for an hour and bagging the stuff up when we got home) for the 15% saving except for the fact that we know the meat was very fresh and the experience itself was so interesting and amusing.

They should sell tickets.

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