Need Help With Wild Game Processing?

Need Help With Wild Game Processing?

Need Help With Wild Game Processing?

Why you are better off with an expert butcher


Picture this scenario: you are craving for the exotic and exciting flavors and textures of wild game, so you go out to do a bit of hunting, and after several hours of patiently waiting and a bit of trial and error, you finally get rewarded with the sweaty, exhausting task of hauling your prize back home. But, there’s still the daunting task of preparing, storing, and cooking the meat…

Sure, you can try to process your prized hunt on your own, but, unless your slaughter skills are as good as your hunting instincts, perhaps it’s best to leave the aftercare to the professionals. After all, what you get from your wild game greatly depends on the care it gets after you hunt and kill it.

Need Help With Wild Game Processing

 

The most obvious reason for bringing your wild game to a butcher shop is, of course, they have the know how and the tools to give you the most out of your meat. No, your steak knife simply won’t do in cutting through bones, thick muscles and fat, and stubborn tendons and cartilages.

And, unless you’ve been cutting your own meat for a really long time, your local butcher is guaranteed to know more in terms of the best cuts and the right methods, so you always end up with nicely textured, amazingly flavored meat.

If you’re not yet convinced, keep on reading!

Don’t worry- you get the exact meat you bring in.

 

One common apprehension of hunters when partnering with a butcher to cut and process their hunt is that they are scared they will be cheated out of meat, or what they get will be mixed with someone else’s game (or worse, mixed with meat from a different kind of animal).

Well, here’s the thing. While it is common practice to do a bit of co-mingling (or mixing of game from the same species) for processed meat products such as sausages, burgers, and pepperonis, and sometimes for small orders, that’s really not the case for fresh meat. 

It’s cost effective and less labor intensive to process meat in big batches rather than per single animal, but the opposite is typically true when you’re just preparing and butchering meat into retail cuts. In this case, mixing game entails inconsistency, a lot of unnecessary labor, and overall hassle. 

Of course, if you really want to be sure, it never hurts to ask. Your local butcher will be more than happy to explain to you the ins and outs of processing wild game meat. It’s also important that you find out whether there is a minimum weight requirement if you want an assurance that you don’t end up with mixed meat.

 

You’re safe- the meat will be meticulously cleaned before processing.


Any hunter knows that you don’t just chop off wild game into steak sized pieces right after you bring it home. A great deal of cleaning up has to be done before the meat can even be processed, much less cut into serving size pieces.

This process, of course, is a shared responsibility between you and your butcher, but you can rest knowing that your butcher is always there to pick up your slack in order to ensure that you get clean, safe, quality meat.

There are certain steps that you must do yourself right after bringing home the hunt, especially since it’s quite unrealistic to just drive straight to the butcher. This can include washing off dirt and blood, covering or wrapping up the game in plastic or cloth bags, and severing the head and feet.

It’s best to find out what your butcher requires you to do before bringing in the meat, so you can prepare accordingly. Typically, those mentioned above- and including field dressing or removing the skin, cleaning off the hair, and air drying- are the things that need to be taken care of, so be sure to ask who will do them.

You can be sure that your local butcher knows how to be meticulous and careful in going through these steps properly, so that the meat will not be damaged, or have unpleasant tastes and textures.

Your Guide to Beef Cuts

Your Guide to Beef Cuts

Your Guide to Beef Cuts

Cattle carcass is slaughtered into different primal and sub primal cuts, which are basically the different body parts of the animal. These are then further cut into the smaller retail cuts, which are what we see in groceries and wet markets.

We’ll go through each primal and sub primal cut, discuss their attributes, and what kinds of retail cuts you can get from each one.

Forequarter Cuts

These four cuts belong to the front half of the animal, with the chuck and rib composing the upper half, and the brisket and plate composing the lower half.

Chuck

The chuck is a huge primal cut starting from where the head and neck ends, extending to the start of the ribs. This includes shoulder muscles and some of the arms. This part of the body gets a lot of exercise, making the meat tough (and a tendency to get chewy), but it’s also one of the most flavorful cuts, and can be braised, pan broiled, roasted, or grilled.

This cut includes seven types of roast (arm chuck, cross rib chuck, shoulder, blade chuck, 7 bone chuck, chuck center, and chuck eye) and 8 types of steak (arm chuck, shoulder, blade chuck, ranch, flat iron, denver, top blade, and chuck eye), along with short ribs, country style ribs, shoulder petite tender, and medallions.

 

This image is property of cattlemen’s beef board and national cattlemen’s beef association

Ribs

As the name implies, this cut comes from the rib area of the animal, which is fairly stagnant throughout the animal’s life, making the meat tender and infused with delicate flavors that come together nicely when grilled, roasted, or pan broiled.

This cut includes the ribeye roast, steak, filet, cap steak, and petite roast, and of course the popular baby back ribs.

Brisket

This cut comes from the breast area of the cattle, making the meat thick and fatty. It also comes off as tough, but can easily be tenderized when cooked for a long period of time over low heat by braising or roasting, which gives the meat wonderful flavors.

Typical retail cuts from the brisket are the brisket flat and the brisket point.

Plate

The beef plate is a relatively small cut from the opposite side of the ribs. This cut is made of coarse grained meat, which is fatty, and has lots of cartilage and connective tissue. Despite these things, however, the beef plate is actually thin and flavorful, and can be made into delicious ground beef.

This cut is composed of the skirt steak and the short ribs, which can be grilled, pan broiled, stir fried, or braised.

Hindquarter Cuts

The back end of the animal carcass can be divided into six primal and sub primal cuts, which vary in flavor and tenderness.

Sirloin

This is a large primal cut of tough, flavorful meat divided into the top and bottom sirloin. The retail cuts that can be garnered from this are extremely versatile and can be cooked through almost any type of dry and moist heat cooking.

This includes the top sirloin steak, filet, and petite roast, the coulotte roast and steak, the tri-tip roast and steak, the petite sirloin steak, and the sirloin bavette steak.

Loin (short and tender)

The loin is composed of the short loin and the tenderloin, the two most popular and most tender sub primal cuts of beef. While these are just small cuts, you can get a variety of retail cuts that can be grilled or pan broiled.

The retail cuts from this part are the porterhouse, T-bone, and strip steak, the strip filet and petite roast, the tenderloin roast, and the filet mignon.

Round, Flank, and Shank

The round is, basically, the animal’s back end. From here, you can get tough but lean cuts which are best cut thinly, and can be roasted, grilled, or pan broiled. This includes the top round roast and steak, the bottom round roast and steak, the eye of round roast and steak, and the bottom round rump roast.

The flank and shank, on the other hand, come from the underbelly and legs, respectively. These are both filled with tough muscle fibers and connective tissue, and are best when marinated or made into ground beef. They can also be grilled, roasted, pan broiled, or braised. Included in these cuts are the flank steak, cube steak, shank cross cut, and ingredient cuts like ground beef, patties, strips, stews, and kabobs.

Why Does My Meat Turn Colors?

Why Does My Meat Turn Colors?

Why Does My Meat Turn Colors?

Myths and facts on the color of meat and poultry

 

When buying meat, one of the things we check is its color. We want something that looks bright and vibrant, because we believe that this indicates freshness. But, there may be more to meat colors than meet the eye.

Meat and poultry often have different colors depending on the source, freshness, and other factors, and these colors change as time passes after the meat is purchased, stored, and cooked.

We’ll explain to you below some of the most common misconceptions of consumers when it comes to meat colors, and the truth behind each one.


Myth: there is one specific meat color per source animal

While it’s true that the type of animal affects the meat color (such as white for poultry, and red for beef), other factors such as the animal’s age, sex, diet, and exercise also influence the color of its meat.

This is also why different parts of the same animal can have different colors. Leg muscles are worked harder than the loin area, which makes them darker and tougher. When it comes to age, older animals have more myoglobin, making their meat darker or more purplish.

 

Myth: red or pink meat means it is fresh

When buying meat at grocery stores or wet market, we often see the same type of meat in different colors, and always opt for the reddest beef and lamb, or the pinkest pork and veal, thinking that these are the freshest batch.

Aside from the explanation on the first myth, another reason why meat can have different colors is exposure to air. Vacuum sealed meat, especially those that are wet aged, often appear purplish, while meat that is constantly exposed to air, moisture, and light can appear red or brown.

This is also why meat is often more vibrant on the surface and duller on the insides, which is especially obvious in pre-packed ground meat, which looks red but is actually a dull brown in the center.

 

Myth: when the meat changes color, it means it’s spoiled


There are many reasons for meat changing colors that have nothing to do with spoilage. While spoiled meat is often darker or not as vibrant as a fresh one, more reliable ways of checking the meat’s freshness have to do with its texture, odor, and the presence of foreign substances like slime and fungus.

One common reason why meat changes its color is because it gets exposed to air, moisture, and different temperatures. This is especially true when you store meat in the freezer, which alters its color, texture, and tenderness, and can cause shrinkage and freezer burn.
 

Myth: the meat releases blood while cooking

The red liquid you see oozing from the meat and poultry when you buy it, and especially while cooking the meat, is actually not blood. Although there may be some residual blood from the meat, especially when it is freshly butchered, more often than not, this red liquid is actually oxymyoglobin.

This comes from the meat’s muscle tissues, which contains a protein called myoglobin- a purplish substance that becomes bright red once it reacts with oxygen, meaning, when the meat is exposed to air.

This also does not mean that the meat is not yet fully cooked. Pinkish centers simply mean that air and heat have reached the center of the meat, and reacted with the myoglobin.

 

Why Does My Beef Weigh Less

Why Does My Beef Weigh Less

Why Does My Beef Weigh Less

The answer to meat carcass yield and losses

Many local meat producers and processors sell meat by the quarter, half, or whole, to consumers who want a steady supply from their freezers, and to those in the food industry who always need large quantities of meat for their daily operations.

If you are a local producer who wants to partner with a local meat processor to cut, process, or sell your meat, or if you are an average consumer looking to purchase huge quantities of meat for your “freezer beef”, then it is important to understand exactly what you are paying for, and what you will get out of it.

When you go to a meat processor for their butchering services or to buy whole meat, you are paying for the live weight of a single animal where your meat will come from. Here is where the confusion starts, as the weight of the meat you get is considerably less than the one you were told when the animal was weighed.

The thing is, your butcher is not cheating you out of meat. Weight loss is a natural thing that happens from live weighing of an animal, to the delivery of retail (ready to cook) meat. Here’s why:

Dressing


Dressing the animal carcass, which happens during slaughter, results in an average of 37% weight loss, which is further affected by other factors such as whether the animal is a dairy breed, an immature female, fatty, or poorly muscled.

So, for example, if you purchase whole beef with a live weight of 1200 lbs, after dressing, you will get roughly 650 to 750 lb carcass weight.

Bone in vs. boneless


The second factor affecting the actual weight of the meat you will end up with is whether you want your cuts bone in or boneless. Bones on a whole beef accounts for around 15% of the total live weight of the animal.

This means that, after dressing where you end up with 750 lb, around 140 to 190 lb of that comes from the bones, so you will end up with much less weight for boneless cuts- but the same amount of meat, which is what’s important (unless of course, you are making bone broth, in which case you need the bones).


External, internal, and muscle fats

Animals have fat in multiple places- their external covers (beneath the skin surface), their internal organs, and their muscles. Normally, you wouldn’t want most of this fat, so the common practice is for butchers and meat processors to trim these fats from the meat, which is muscle.

Fats also weigh lighter than muscle, so if you happen to purchase an animal carcass with a large fat percentage, you will end up with both a lighter live weight and actual yield.

Primal and retail cuts

Finally, there is the issue of what kinds of cut you want. First of all, butchering the carcass into these primal cuts result in some weight loss due to reasons mostly explained above, not to mention discarding undesirable, unsaleable, and unusable parts, such as, for example, the head, tail, and organs.

Then, it must be noted that different primal and sub primal cuts account for different percentages of the meat’s total weight, which is an important factor, especially when you are not purchasing the whole beef. Given that, cutting these primals into retail cuts can also result in some minimal weight loss.

 

 

 

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