Remember that time I bought a cow? Would you believe it is over a year ago?
When Jamie @Black Beef sent me a message saying it was time to start thinking about the ‘end product’ it took me a few minutes to catch up.
How could it really be time for that?
Of course, the discussion was made even harder by Gus and his friends taking up residence in the paddock surrounding Field Cottage.
Just look at that face…
Things suddenly got very real…
A few Mondays ago saw Matt & I gathering our thoughts and visiting Steven the butcher to discuss our requirements. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I like to think of myself as being educated when it comes to our food. Being especially interested in where our meat comes from, and how it has been treated. But the actual butchery process? Beyond the standard steak cuts I know very little!
A trip to the butcher…
Thankfully Jamie had organised for Steven from Mawhinneys of Newtownards to talk us through all of our options. There are a lot of things to consider when you have the whole animal to think about. We knew we wanted to keep most of the joints intact and use as much of the animal as possible. Nose to tail eating and all that – why be wasteful! But it was useful to have Steven to guide us towards some important decisions. Such as using the fattier parts for a small amount of sausages, and what parts make good quality mince; without limiting our slow cooking / roasting options.
He was also able to inform us about what parts of the animal it is unusual to have returned from the abattoir. You have to put in a special request if you want them to include the offal. The liver, heart etc… As even though I have absolutely no idea what to do with them; I would hate to see any part of Gus go to waste. I am currently storing up recipes – so please do let me know if you have any recommendations. I am pretty excited about the tongue! I also learnt that we will be unable to get the blood; so that’s my black pudding plans on hold for a while.
It was eye opening looking at an entire animal hanging in the fridge. Cattle are large animals, even when stripped down and hung to age. We decided to hang the ‘steak cuts’ for 28 days, but I didn’t realise you hang the rest of the animal for around 14 days too… It stands to reason though, as we do similar with pheasants, rabbits etc… though generally not for as long. I’ll spare you the photos I took in the fridge, just in case you are a little squeamish!
Gus is currently still happily grazing in the field, waiting for some Spring grass to fill him with some extra nutrients. That’s part of the charm of this #fieldtofork malarchy. Gus gets to live for up to 30months enjoying the great outdoors and mixed forage, as opposed to commercial cattle that are lucky to reach 18months; often spending months at a time indoors. Not only is this far better from a welfare perspective, but pasture fed, slow maturing cattle result in a lovely marbling and superb flavour. Win, win!
Have you had a #fieldtofork experience? How did you find it?