If you missed my earlier piece on the actual slaughter of the cow, you need to go read it now.
Saturday, I returned to Paul's house to help with the butchering of the cow. Sadly, readers will be disappointed to know that since this cow was the equivalent of an Old Nag, the whole thing was ground up into hamburger meat. In other words, we didn't end up with a pile of t-bones, porterhouse, fillets, skirt steak, brisket, flank steaks, rump roasts, etc.
When I arrived at Paul's house, they were sitting down to lunch, and had prepared some shish-k-bob meat from both our cow and the bull they'd slaughtered the week before. The bull, a prime 2 1/2 year old specimen, was a much higher quality of meat, and there were a few t-bones on the table. I forgot to ask if they had to castrate the bull well before slaughter. I would have thought that otherwise the meat would have been very tough on account of the bull's muscular structure.
We went down to the basement where Paul and his son-in-law Rick had brought the quarters in from the meat fridge.
I was handed a knife, and 5 of us stood around a waist high table for over 5 hours cleaning the meat. As I said, the meat was too tough to make steaks out of, but I asked Rick to show me where the various cuts came from, so I did get to learn a little bit about the process, even if the finished product wasn't what I was expecting. We basically repeatedly cut off hunks of meat and bone, carved the meat off the bone, carved the connective tissue off the meat, then threw it in a big bucket. The outside surface dried into a texture similar to jerky, and that was also removed and discarded.
Here's a pic of the shank, which was cut up to make marrow bones for the dogs. The meat in the picture gets cleaned and thrown in the burger bucket.
I brought home a few marrow bones for Oscar and Mr. Griffey. They devoured them on Monday afternoon:
At one point, I managed to negotiate receipt of the neck/spine - it was a roughly 2 foot piece of half the spine, with vertebrae laden with meat. It would have made a top notch soup stock. I called my wife with the good news, but she was none too happy. I expected her to understand that when a cat brings you home a mouse, it's a sign that they love you, and when I was bringing her home the delicacy that is the cow spine, the intent was similar. It was my fault for explaining poorly though, as Mrs. Dynamite was expecting a 4 foot cow-spine, which was a no-go considering that we had company coming over. She was pissed, I could tell, and I abandoned the spine. Mike told me I didn't market it very well to her over the phone - he said I should have just said I was bringing home soup bones.
Brisket, soup bones, and a chuck roast:
My precious spine:
Finally, when the entire cow was chunked up into clean meat, we fired up the grinder and ground it into the leanest hamburger you'll ever see. This is what we had before it went into the grinder:
And this is what came out:
There were two 30-gallon trashcans like this full of pre-grinder meat:
They graciously gave me a Ziploc baggie filled with a few pounds of hamburger meat, and I made up some burgers Tuesday night. I had to add egg for some sort of fat, and then breadcrumbs too, as the meat was just too soft for me to form into burgers. I guess I'm used to the growth hormone riddled meat in the supermarket that holds its shape like Play-doh when you mold it. In the end, I packed it into some nice lean 1/3rd pounders, and grilled them up for dinner and again for lunch the next day. They were terrific (topped with homemade jalapeno pickles and home grown tomatoes), and the pasture-to-plate process was complete!