Today, as part of my research into obtaining FRESH beef, LD and I took the short (2 mile) drive up to my friend Buck's little cattle operation. I say little because he has about 75 head. When we got to his place, we climbed up in his truck and he drove us out in the pasture. The cattle immediately began to mob the truck, and it's not surprising since he feeds them hay from the back of the truck.
Our primary purpose was two-fold today: first, to get a look at which steer we're "buying" and second, to learn more about what cuts of mean come from which part of the animal. The most surprising part to me was that when you remove the bone from a t-bone steak it actually becomes two other common cuts of steak!! We're only buying half of it as we want to get a handle on how much meat we're getting and how long it'll take us to go through it. Plus, given that this is our first foray into grass fed vs commercially produced beef, we weren't entirely certain about how the taste, texture etc would be.
Here is "our" steer, #84. Everyone says NOT to name an animal you plan on eating.... But.... I couldn't resist. He will forever be known to me as Mr. Meaty, Mr. Chuck Meaty:
And THIS cutie was Buck's "model" to show us where the different cuts of beef come from on the animal. He is a bottle fed baby - his mother had a yearling and when he was born she rejected him. So, Buck has been milking another heifer who lost her calf and then bottle feeding this little boy.
Once the chaos was over, LD and I got out of the truck to take a closer look at the baby - he was surprisingly soft but was a bit scared of LD. He was particularly fond of scratches on his back, around his ears and under his chin.
All in all, it was a really great, and VERY educational visit to Buck's place.
Now, for the best ground beef ever? As we were getting ready to leave Buck gave me a 1lb package of ground beef that he had in his freezer. I told him that we'd eat it for dinner tonight and tell him if we wanted to add grain to the steer's diet between now and slaughter time in November.
The first thing I noticed was how the beef looked - it was bright red, through and through, and speckled with little bits of fat. Even so, it cooked up with surprisingly little loss to the volume and very little fat left in the pan. While I didn't take pictures of it, which I wish I had, I will say, it was the single best experience I've ever had eating ground beef. It had real flavor - maybe this is what people refer to when they say meat is gamey. But, to us, it was just meaty... it was full flavored.
Dad is a big beef guy. All I heard from him, through the course of dinner, was "ooh, ahhh, yum." After dinner, during which he ate 1/2 of the meat we were given, he said, "That was so good, it was almost like a steak!" That pretty much sealed the deal. As far as we're concerned, no grain needed. Can't wait to have my freezer full of this stuff!!! Oh, and I'm thinking that Christmas dinner this year will feature a nice prime rib or tenderloin roast..... just sayin'.
Special thanks to Buck Amodei here in Sierraville for the tour, education and the upcoming freezer full of beef!