Typically we are selective about where we purchase our beef. This isn’t meant to come across as a lecture to people who are not concerned with how their meat was raised, but we choose to be more involved in this area. Things like being grass-fed on pasture, no antibiotics, no hormones, etc. are all important factors for us. Because of how expensive this grade of beef can be, we don’t eat meat a whole lot at home. It’s a little special when we decide to run over to New Seasons to pick up some beef and cook a meal.
For several months now we have discussed the possibility of buying a portion of a cow. Ideally, we wanted to work with a local rancher who met these same standards that we follow when we purchase beef. We figured we would probably save some money buying that large of a portion, support a local farmer, and save ourselves several trips to the store this year. About a month ago we inherited a chest freezer for the basement and, with all our ducks in a row, we knew it was time to get moving.
A wonderful local ranch option just kind of fell into place for me. I had been doing a bunch of research online in search of different ranches, but then I noticed my Lents Farmer’s Market has a beef farmer: PD Farms. I did my research and learned they also raise their cows on grass from birth to death, using no antibiotics or hormones.
Now that I found a great source for our beef, I began trying to determine just how much a 1/4 of a cow ends up being. This was a little harder to find specifics on, other than it working out to about 100 lbs of meat. We decided to play it safe and split the 1/4 with another couple, so we each get a 1/8. I emailed the farm and placed my order. Phil called me to talk about how I wanted the butcher to cut things up. Being a newbie, I went with the most popular options on most things.
A few days later, Phil and Dianne came by my house and delivered the beef. They even threw in some homemade jerky and cow bones for my dog, which was very sweet. I took a picture of the whole order, unpacked and on my kitchen table, so you can get a sense of how much a 1/4 of a cow looks like.
Although this will be a long list, here is what my order looked like (and generally you can tweak things a bit with each order):
- Ground beef – 39 packages/pounds
- Stew meat – 8 packages/pounds
- Country-style ribs – 2 packages/6 pounds
- Tenderloin steaks – 4 steaks
- NY steaks – 6 steaks
- Ribeye steaks – 4 steaks
- Chuck steak – 4 steaks
- Top Round Steak – 4 steaks
- Short ribs – 2 packages/3 pounds
- Skirt steak – 2 steaks
- Flank steak – 2 steaks
- Arm roast – 1 package/3 pounds
- Shoulder roast – 1 package/3 pounds
- Tri tip – 1 package
- Heel Roast – 1 package/3 pounds
- Flat Iron steak – 2 steaks
- Bottom Round steak – 2 steaks
- Sirloin steak – 2 steaks
This totals a little over 100 pounds of beef, and at $5.50 a pound cut and wrap weight we paid $550. I went to New Seasons to price out their beef, then did the numbers to determine what we would spend if we bought each cut separately from the market. I estimate that would cost well over $650, which means we saved somewhere between $100-$150 by buying straight from the farm. Not to mention all the other benefits of buying close to home.
Disclaimer: I had a great experience with PD Farms. I am not getting paid or receiving any kind of commission from them for writing about my experience. There are several great local farm options in Oregon though, and this one was a good fit for me.
To celebrate our big purchase, Jay and I cooked up the most amazing meal I have had all year. Jay whipped out the cast iron skillet and took care of the NY steaks. I made roasted potatoes with Walla Walla sweet onions and steam green beans, all locally sourced. We popped open a bottle of Merlot and ate ourselves into euphoria. (Click the picture to the left to enjoy a bigger view)
The meat was very flavorful, incredibly tender and juicy. This was one of the best decisions we’ve made all year and contributed to me having one of the best nights I’ve had all year.