It’s time to call the butcher and place your order
The longer the butcher shop can hang the animal, the better for flavor. You might consider asking them how long they hang it and request a MINIMUM of 2 weeks. The butcher will have a good idea based on the animal’s fat cover.
Think about how many pounds of hamburger you use at a sitting for your family and have them package it in the appropriate pound size.
Ask them if they add any fat to the hamburger. Some butcher shops actually add fat from other people’s cows…or even pigs if they think it’s too lean. Personally, we like ours as lean as it can get. You can let them know your preference. Fat does contain flavor.
Do not have them wrap too many steaks in a single package. You can always thaw another package. The other two reasons for this is that if you wanted to just thaw two for a “special occasion” OR if you just want to cut it up to use in something, you won’t have too much. When considering the size of the steaks, remember that 1/2″ is considered thin, 1″ is thick. Most people enjoy the 3/4″. Remember, though, the thicker the steak, the less number of them you will have.
Think about the size of roast you usually use and consider if you want leftovers to use in other dishes…or simply a tad larger to accommodate company.
We found the best way to handle the brisket is to have it “corned.” This would mean it’s been marinating in herbs/spices/brine and will be ready to cook slowly for corned beef (ahhhh Reuben sandwiches!). If you are purchasing half a beef, there will be only one of these. If you choose not to “corn” the briskets, it’s great for hamburger.
Be mindful that the more/larger roasts you have, the less hamburger you’ll end up with. Same with stew meat. Stew meat is nice, but it would mean less hamburger. If you do go with stew meat, I suggest 1 pound packages. It can easily be stretched.
Our family never orders the ribs. We prefer not to use freezer space for bones and found that for us, the meat was more wisely used as hamburger.
Speaking of bones, if you decide to take the “dog bones,” make sure you have enough room in your freezer for them! They are large and quite a few. You better have a big dog. ~smile~
I am sure the butcher will answer any other questions you might have.
If you get jerky, pepperoni, or sausage, that will cost a little extra. Usually, they require you to purchase a minimum amount. That might mean that they require 20 pounds of meat in order for them to process a batch. You can get it wrapped in whatever size, though. Remember, this will also take away from your hamburger.
They will probably wrap in freezer paper. If you want vacuum-sealed, it will cost extra (if they offer it). The vacuum-sealed is nice in that you can see what’s inside, but the paper will be labeled. Also, if the paper gets torn in an area, which is not common, only that small section will get freezer burned. If the vacuum-sealed gets a small hole, which is very possible, especially with bones, the entire package will get freezer-burned. The probability of this happening increases with meats that contain bones. If you catch it in time, plan on using the meat in the damaged packages quickly.
You finally got your meat home. What do we do now?
When you bring the meat home, have a pad of paper and a pen handy. As it is being loaded into the freezer (Hopefully, you have cleaned out the deep freezer beforehand), write down the cut of meat and write “tally marks” next to an item so you can keep track of how many you have of each. Stack the same cuts together for ease of location!
What about organic, anyway?
There is a difference between free range and organic. Organic must be certified. If it is, then the farm/property would be certified, as well. This means all the feed/hay and the land is certified organic, meaning it’s like 2nd or 3rd generation pesticide/herbicide free. I can’t remember for sure, but I think it’s mother was to be hormone free, too. You can expect to pay a good price for this beef!