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"Butchering" Costco style primals?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hey all, been awhile - had a pretty busy year. 

 

I'm thinking about buying Costco primals to save some expense on meat when I think I'm probably fairly capable of breaking down the whole pieces. They've started carrying (in my neck of the woods) "antibiotic free" 1/2 primals. Also, I thought that getting into dry aging could be interesting. Further, the whole primal thing just seems fun. 

 

I've picked up a striploin 1/2 and will be making my first attempt at chopping it down to steaks tonight. Watched some youtube, seems straightforward enough. 

 

Knife-wise, what do you recommend? I was thinking I'd do most of it with my Kagayaki 150mm petty for trimming etc and then slicing steaks with my 270mm Suji (Hattori FH...love this knife, btw). I also have most other standards on hand, including some no name pretty stiff curved filleting knife. I doubt I need anything new to do an adequate job but in my "butcher" searches, I didn't find much of direct correspondence to this topic.

 

BDL, you had a good one a few years ago with madcowcutlery chiming in but that was for slightly bigger butchery, I thought.

 

Anyhow, thoughts will be appreciated, as always. 

post #2 of 20

looks like you're good with the suji and the petty. a gyuto would be more versatile than sujis for meats. 

 

but if you really wanna add something else, a hankotsu. =D

 

but the two knives you already have will do the work you'd need. 

post #3 of 20

Costco does not buy or sell hindquarters or forequarters as is,so in essence you are not really butchering. You are simply cutting a strip into steaks, after it has been already broken down from the carcass. Same thing applies to filets and ribs.109s . You are simply portioning.. I do not think anyone at Costco could break down a carcass as is. 


PS  Studies have been done on non antibiotic treated poultry and cattle. They are more prone to bacteria buildup and sickness then non treated ones.. So it's 6 of one and a half dozen of the other.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #4 of 20

I recommend a 10" Fibrox handle Scimitar.  Forschner makes them but I'm sure you can find others too.  It's a workhorse of a knife.

post #5 of 20

for the price of the victorinox knife, it would seem to be a good idea. 

 

this would be a good idea too

 

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckbukn.html

 

 

if you don't mind carbon.

 

=D

post #6 of 20

I often buy roaasts at Costco and cut them down to chops.  It is fun and allows for a little more lexibility.  The meatman at Costco laughs at me because both he and I know that 9 times out of 10 my chops are the same as his pre-cut chops.  But I like the option of using half the roast as chops and half as a roast.

 

In terms of additional equipment, consider a adding a meat saw to your kit for cutting the chine.

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Costco does not buy or sell hindquarters or forequarters as is,so in essence you are not really butchering. You are simply cutting a strip into steaks, after it has been already broken down from the carcass. Same thing applies to filets and ribs.109s . You are simply portioning.. I do not think anyone at Costco could break down a carcass as is. 


 

If this is true all you need is a gyuto or sujihiki. I save about $1/lb. by getting the largest cuts they have and portioning them. If they have true 1/2 primals I'm buying one and will use a honesuki, 180 mm petty and gyuto. Maybe the suji if it's needed.

post #8 of 20

The technical term -- or at least a technical term -- for the kind of "portioning" you want to do is "steaking."  I'm not sure if it fits within the official definition of "butchering" or not, but since there is no official definition, you're safe from the meat police.  Call it what you want.   

 

The knife I mentioned was a Forschner 10" Cimeter (which is how Forschner/Victorinox spells it).  They run around $30 with a Fibrox handle.  Mine has the Fibrox handle, and I like it, but...  I got it as a review sample, prefer the Rosewood, would have bought that if I'd had the choice, and feel that the wood handle is worth the extra couple of bucks even if you're on a budget as long as you don't have a problem holding onto wood handles when your hands get wet and slick. 

 

"Cimeter" or slicer/suji? The cimiter does a lot of heavy duty things besides portioning and steaking large pieces of meat, on top of that you don't have to worry about hurting it if you use it to do things like separating ribs.  On the other hand, I think every good home knife sit should include a slicer as good as the chef's -- and a helluva lot better than the heavy duty knives.  You may not use it as much, but it's the knife of choice for a lot of things -- including carving at parties.  Since having one doesn't preclude having the other, I say "both." 

 

If you're on a budget, the best advice I can probably give you is to go ahead and get something like the Cimiter now and hold off on a slicer/suji until you can (a) are happy with your sharpening; (b) have a chef's/gyuto you really like; and (c) can afford a really good slicer/suji.  Alas, good ones aren't cheap.

 

Of course the concept of "good knives" is as elastic as "butchering."  If you want to fool around with carbon knives, you might try an "Old Hickory" 10" butcher's knife.  I've had no experience with the CCK knife, but the Old Hickory is a surprisingly good blade for $20 -- especially since Ontario fixed their QC problems AND thinned the geometry.  The Old Hickory is made from 1095, and once you've established a good edge, it gets very sharp, stays that way for a long time, and as long as you don't let it rust the knife is darn near indestructible.  

 

BDL 

post #9 of 20

I buy Costco primals in Cryovac all the time.  The only cuts I have seen are strips and ribeyes.  No bones.  There very little trimming and virtually no waste if you pick the best in the cooler.  Any long sharp knife should to the trick. 

 

I wet age, which means leaving the meat in Cryovac for a month or so,  Dry aging requires a cool dry area with plenty of air circulation, not something that many homes have available. 

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FranzB69 View Post

looks like you're good with the suji and the petty. a gyuto would be more versatile than sujis for meats. 

 

but if you really wanna add something else, a hankotsu. =D

 

but the two knives you already have will do the work you'd need. 

 

Thanks Franz - I just thought the suji may be better for slicing through the portions - two big gyutos on hand, so that'll be fine (Moritaka Deluxe Blue #2 270mm and Hattori HD 240mm). I'll fiddle and figure it out. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Costco does not buy or sell hindquarters or forequarters as is,so in essence you are not really butchering. You are simply cutting a strip into steaks, after it has been already broken down from the carcass. Same thing applies to filets and ribs.109s . You are simply portioning.. I do not think anyone at Costco could break down a carcass as is. 


PS  Studies have been done on non antibiotic treated poultry and cattle. They are more prone to bacteria buildup and sickness then non treated ones.. So it's 6 of one and a half dozen of the other.

 

Thanks ed. That's why the "butchering" was in quotation marks. Portioning would have been the more appropriate term but I couldn't think of it at the time. As to the PS - it's why the antibiotic free meat is more expensive - the loss from bacteria and sickness causes farmers to have less to sell and to have to be more careful with their processes in the first place. It also means I'm not eating a bunch of cow drugs. I freely admit that I haven't done a bunch of research on consumption of antibiotic and hormone treated cattle and its effect on the human body but I know that I try to limit my own antibiotic consumption. Probably something I should look into a little more. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan View Post

I recommend a 10" Fibrox handle Scimitar.  Forschner makes them but I'm sure you can find others too.  It's a workhorse of a knife.

 

I've seen a few references to those - I should take a look. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post

I often buy roaasts at Costco and cut them down to chops.  It is fun and allows for a little more lexibility.  The meatman at Costco laughs at me because both he and I know that 9 times out of 10 my chops are the same as his pre-cut chops.  But I like the option of using half the roast as chops and half as a roast.

 

In terms of additional equipment, consider a adding a meat saw to your kit for cutting the chine.

 

I was thinking the same thing re the half roast. Especially because sometimes they sell the whole top sirloin (my personal favourite cut of steak and makes an awfully good roast if properly tied).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mano View Post

If this is true all you need is a gyuto or sujihiki. I save about $1/lb. by getting the largest cuts they have and portioning them. If they have true 1/2 primals I'm buying one and will use a honesuki, 180 mm petty and gyuto. Maybe the suji if it's needed.

 

My thoughts exactly. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

The technical term -- or at least a technical term -- for the kind of "portioning" you want to do is "steaking."  I'm not sure if it fits within the official definition of "butchering" or not, but since there is no official definition, you're safe from the meat police.  Call it what you want.   

 

The knife I mentioned was a Forschner 10" Cimeter (which is how Forschner/Victorinox spells it).  They run around $30 with a Fibrox handle.  Mine has the Fibrox handle, and I like it, but...  I got it as a review sample, prefer the Rosewood, would have bought that if I'd had the choice, and feel that the wood handle is worth the extra couple of bucks even if you're on a budget as long as you don't have a problem holding onto wood handles when your hands get wet and slick. 

 

"Cimeter" or slicer/suji? The cimiter does a lot of heavy duty things besides portioning and steaking large pieces of meat, on top of that you don't have to worry about hurting it if you use it to do things like separating ribs.  On the other hand, I think every good home knife sit should include a slicer as good as the chef's -- and a helluva lot better than the heavy duty knives.  You may not use it as much, but it's the knife of choice for a lot of things -- including carving at parties.  Since having one doesn't preclude having the other, I say "both." 

 

If you're on a budget, the best advice I can probably give you is to go ahead and get something like the Cimiter now and hold off on a slicer/suji until you can (a) are happy with your sharpening; (b) have a chef's/gyuto you really like; and (c) can afford a really good slicer/suji.  Alas, good ones aren't cheap.

 

Of course the concept of "good knives" is as elastic as "butchering."  If you want to fool around with carbon knives, you might try an "Old Hickory" 10" butcher's knife.  I've had no experience with the CCK knife, but the Old Hickory is a surprisingly good blade for $20 -- especially since Ontario fixed their QC problems AND thinned the geometry.  The Old Hickory is made from 1095, and once you've established a good edge, it gets very sharp, stays that way for a long time, and as long as you don't let it rust the knife is darn near indestructible.  

 

BDL 

 

Thanks BDL. My suji's pretty good, so I'll hold on to that (I don't think you were ever a big fan of the Forums FH series but I really dig my suji - made for some really nice prime rib cuts for a pre-Christmas family dinner). Will consider adding the Cimeter to the kit if I find I do this regularly and could benefit from it. For $30, it can't really hurt. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo68 View Post

I buy Costco primals in Cryovac all the time.  The only cuts I have seen are strips and ribeyes.  No bones.  There very little trimming and virtually no waste if you pick the best in the cooler.  Any long sharp knife should to the trick. 

 

I wet age, which means leaving the meat in Cryovac for a month or so,  Dry aging requires a cool dry area with plenty of air circulation, not something that many homes have available. 

 

I'm kind of thinking that my fridge at my office will be an ideal place to fiddle with dry-aging as we don't keep very much in it at all. What law firm doesn't dry age beef? It's all the rage...

post #11 of 20

You have to be a lawyer to afford to eat dry age d beef all the time.

CHEFED
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post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN View Post

You have to be a lawyer to afford to eat dry age d beef all the time.

 

Well, if you're dry aging it yourself, theoretically you're only paying the original price and then putting in the $300/hour labour charges to dry age it. Hmm, that is expensive...

post #13 of 20

Deputy add on a 15 to 20  % shrinkage factor  that makes $5.00 a pound meat now  $6.00 a pound to start

CHEFED
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post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN View Post

Deputy add on a 15 to 20  % shrinkage factor  that makes $5.00 a pound meat now  $6.00 a pound to start

 

That, I can deal with.

post #15 of 20

There's a lot more waste than a 20% moisture loss.  The dry aging process involves letting "age" -- a king of mold -- grow on the surface of the meat.  All of the age must be cut off before the meat is cooked.  Cuts or cracks in pieces of meat which are dry aged usually mean the entire piece must be thrown away, etc.  Then, there's the cost of maintaining a dedicated dry-age locker.  Meat which is dry-aged in a way to make a meaningful, positive difference costs about twice as much as meat from an ordinary retailer. 

 

There's a big trend towards a sort of illegitimate not quite dry aging which involves wrapping meat in cheesecloth and setting in on a rack (so air can circulate) around it for a few days in the refrigerator.  Unfortunately, the results don't compare to real aging. 

 

The best way to deal with dry aging is to get a pro to do it for you.  Second best is to "wet age." 

 

BDL

 

PS.  For all you math junkies out there -- not to mention anyone who has to balance a check book -- 20% waste on 5$/lb meat, gets you $6.25/lb, NOT $6/lb.   


Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/5/13 at 6:19am
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN View Post

Deputy add on a 15 to 20  % shrinkage factor  that makes $5.00 a pound meat now  $6.00 a pound to start

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post
  For all you math junkies out there -- not to mention anyone who has to balance a check book -- 20% waste on 5$/lb meat, gets you $6.25/lb, NOT $6/lb.   

 


15% waste gives you a price of $5.88 per pound. 20% waste does indeed give you a price of $6.25 per pound. 15 to 20% waste range, as Chef Ed mentioned, gives you an average price of $6.06 per pound.

 

One of my mentors always told me, as he tapped the side of his head, "Watch your sense and the dollars take care of themselves."

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #17 of 20

I agree with the wet vs dry aging.  A refrigerator has neither the dryness or air circulation required for dry aging.  Wet aging produces reasonable good results, and with far less problems. 

post #18 of 20

I was going to post this but I forgot. 

 

http://www.drybagsteak.com/

post #19 of 20
Quote:
10" Fibrox handle Scimitar

That's the knife my instructor, a Euro trained butcher, uses.  

post #20 of 20

There are many different kinds of knives to use when one is breaking down meat. A stiff boning knive as well as flexible one. A Cimiiter  or large steak  slicer.. A Clever. Each one performs and makes it easier to fabricate the meat.    I also suggest if doing heavy cutting  a Steel Mesh Glove for opposite hand  and a steel mesh frontal panel for your apron.

SLIPS DO HAPPEN. If you work in meat room all day your hands become slightly knumb and it is hard to feel things.

CHEFED
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