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Old 01-16-2007, 02:19 PM   #1
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Butchering whole pieces of beef?

Hey guys,

I posted this in T&T with the understanding this may get moved to Beef, but it's more of a technique question, so onwards...

I'm thinking of possibly saving some money by buying a big hunk of Top Sirloin from Costco (only $7.49/kg as opposed to pre-cut steaks or roasts at $9.99/kg - which up here is already a good price) or maybe a whole Striploin for $11.99/kg (as opposed to pre-cut at $17.99/kg, I believe).

A factor to consider is how much I'd get out of the big hunk and how much would be waste...so whether the price difference would be worth it. Another factor is how much of a pain in the neck it'll be butcher the hunk of beef.

Has anyone done this and found it to be worthwhile? Do people do this on a regular basis? Any good tips or websites on how to best go about doing this in order to minimize waste?


This really all started because I watched Alton's "Tender is the Loin" episodes where he does the whole tenderloin "pismo". It just seems like you get a lot out what you buy and potentially save a fair amount of money.

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Old 01-16-2007, 02:39 PM   #2
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Buy top grades...No less than Choice
There will be some trimmings....
There will be some waste...different amounts on each piece
If you have a grinder you may can grind a small amount of grind out of trimmings etc.
Rather than go into detail about breaking these pieces down to individual roast/steaks etc..Check the internet at you leisure for cutting techniques/ideas
It can be time consuming...
You will need maybe butcher paper to wrap...or heavy duty freezer bags...
It can save you money...
It can be fun...
Again check the USDA grade of this product before you buy!
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:41 PM   #3
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I think it will be close but you'll save some. It depends on the waste in the larger piece and your skill at breaking it down to smaller pieces in a way that minimizes waste. I've never done this particular cut.

Take a shot at it and weigh up the meat you have left after trimming and calculate a new per pound cost. I can't imagine you will lose a ton of money and you'll find out if you want to expend the effort required to save money.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:50 PM   #4
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I imagine it'll end up much like when I decided to bone and skin my own pieces of chicken breast. I discovered that the time and effort involved + waste material (skin, bone, fat, and screwups) = a total savings of about $0.50 for two breasts. Plus I wasted a good half hour. Then again, I had a really crappy boning knife at the time.

I think I'll go in on it with someone if I can't find a nice small sirloin for myself. I just think it'll be a good time and an interesting experiment. I'll have to wait until I have some empty freezer space, though...

Bob, thanks for the tips. Costco in Canada only sells AAA (that I've noticed, anyhow), which I believe is equivalent to "Choice" in the US.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:54 PM   #5
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Keep in mind that you'll get better at it with practice. I've seen professionals do a chicken in 30 seconds! I can't do it near that fast but I get some satisfaction from doing it myself.

If you cut up a whole chicken, you should be saving the scraps to make stock.
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:18 PM   #6
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I've been considering trying chicken again now that I got a proper boning knife (I hope it's better than the last one, at least) and making stock. Been thinking about getting that huge Calphalon Commercial stock pot from Amazon for $40...thinking about it, haven't bit the bullet yet, though.
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
If you cut up a whole chicken, you should be saving the scraps to make stock.
I second the scraps for stock idea. Not just whole chickens. You can utilize other chicken scraps. Last week I bought 10 pounds of leg/thigh quarters and a lot of chicken breasts. Once I finished boning the breasts and trimming up the leg/thigh pieces, I had quite a quantity of scraps. I put them in my Le Creuset Dutch oven with some onion, carrot, celery, and thyme and freshly ground black pepper. Covered it with water and simmered away.

After I removed the solids, I reduced the stock and defatted it. Out of that little bit of scrap, I ended up with 3 pints of nice, rich chicken stock. I don't put salt in until I use it. I froze the stock in canning jars but, sometimes, I'll pour it into an ice cube tray and then store the frozen cubes in a zipper bag to use in smaller quantities.
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:39 PM   #8
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For the difference of the first example, I don't think you'll save that much. There won't be much waste on these primal pieces though--and the trimmings that you do get could be ground for hamburger, or kebabs, etc.
On the second you will save a lot. But I think you have to factor in how you will use this and over what period. if you don't have a vacuum sealer you may get freezer burn or at least some loss of quality over a period of time in the freezer.
These pieces are NO problem to cut up--just slice to the thickness you want--there isn't any big mystery to them at all.
As for chicken breasts, there can be a BIG saving if you get them for $0.99/lb (on the bone). Bone them out, and then make stock from the bones. Two for one. Those are cheap breasts. Anything more than that, I can wait until the boneless are on sale for $1.99/lb.--VERY often. All that said, they are always about $2.49/lb. at Costco so I rarely to never bone them any more--can always get them at a good price. I buy at the $0.99 price and grill them bone in.
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver
I've been considering trying chicken again now that I got a proper boning knife (I hope it's better than the last one, at least) and making stock. Been thinking about getting that huge Calphalon Commercial stock pot from Amazon for $40...thinking about it, haven't bit the bullet yet, though.

Filleting takes practice. I do buy chicken breast when I can get it in bulk, but otherwise I only buy whole chicken. After practicing, few times you'll find out that saving is tremendous. One can save more than half. Considering that boneless, skinless chicken breast is triple of the whole chicken price. I have an $18 boning knife, nothing fancy, that works just fine, as long as I keep it sharp.
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Old 01-16-2007, 05:06 PM   #10
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My wife can bone out a breast by hand...no knife...she even gets the breast filet...DO NOT ask me how she does it.. I don't know and I can't do it!...I do know it must be very very cold...just before freezing..Sometimes she botches one...but not many.

No I have Not been in the bourbon....yet!
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