Our Monticello neighbor, and long-time business owner, Hal Bennett has come upon a great bargain for those of you interested in buying beef from whole steers.
Hal is the owner of Johnston’s Meat Market and is running a Farm to Family promotion right now. Buy a whole, half or quarter cow and save a lot of money for 100% all natural, grass-feed beef. The steers he has access to are young, only 500 to 900 pounds, not the usual 1,000 or so pounds usually available. This means the total cost is less.
You can spend $20 to $25 on grass-fed steaks at high end stores, and around $8 per pound on hamburger. For these steers, you pay an average of $6.40 per pound for everything. There’s more information and an example order on the website, http://www.johnstonsmeatmarket.com/farm-to-family.html. I read that a quarter steer can feed a family of four for 6 months.
Johnston’s ages their beef a full 21-days for the best flavor. Ask him to tell you the story about the taste test he did with a local rancher a while back. Many commercial producers only age their beef from 7-14 days. Barely edible! And Johnston’s does not add any tenderizers or flavor enhancers to their cuts, which grew up free from hormones, antibiotics and GMO’s from the start.
If you can’t afford a whole or half cow, get together with other families to buy one – ‘cow-pooling!’ You can go out to the ranch to select the steer you want, then have Johnston’s custom cut it for you. Our freezers are pretty full with Mayhaw berries, Blueberries and goat, but we might go in with a few other people. We’ll have to come up with some new recipes for cuts we’re not used to.
Hal turned us on to this rare old recipe to corn beef.
1 1/2 pounds fine salt (best quality)
1/2 pound brown sugar
1/2 ounce salt peter
Thoroughly scrub and clean a good oak barrel. Put as much fresh-killed beef as desired to be corned in barrel and cover with cold water. Have the water two inches above the meat. Let stand for 48 hours. Drain off the water and measure before discarding. Measure the same amount of cold water (spring water if possible) and to every gallon of water used, add the above proportions of salt, sugar and salt peter. Boil for 15 minutes and then skim. When cold, pour over the beef. Place a heavy weight on meat to keep it under the brine. Store in cool cellar.
Not a bit of corn in this recipe! And I didn’t even know ‘corn’ was a verb. Can you buy salt peter? Think I can find an decent oak barrel on CraigsList? This is all probably quite do-able, but I think I’ll finish some other projects first.
UPDATE:/strong> Since I first posted this article, I’ve learned that Hal has some boxes of quarter steers available for you to go in an pick out right now. We had steak from Johnston’s for Dad’s birthday last week and I was amazed at how good 21-day aged steak is, even when the cooks don’t quite have the right technique! (Maybe we can get each other a gas grill for Christmas!)