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Selecting Cuts for Half a Cow

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  • PNWGreg
    Club Member
    • Nov 2018
    • 17
    • Mukilteo, WA

    Selecting Cuts for Half a Cow

    Hey All,
    My wife bought me a half cow and has left it to me to select the cuts.
    This is my first time so I could use the memberships expert advice.
    i know I want the brisket, the tri-tip as a roast, the tenderloin as steaks and the short plate to make beef ribs.
    I’m thinking bone-in ribeyes (tomahawks?).
    Given the above (if correct... again, I’m a novice), what else remains and what can I/should I do?
    Thanks in advance for your guidance.
  • Donw
    Club Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 3391

    Maybe this chart will help Click image for larger version

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    • HawkerXP
      HawkerXP commented
      Editing a comment
  • JoeSousa
    Club Member
    • Sep 2016
    • 952
    • Spokane, WA
    • Weber 22" (4 of them)
      Weber Ranch
      Weber 26"
      SNS Kettle
      PK Grill (40+ years old)
      Weber Jumbo Joe
      Thermoworks Smoke, DOT, Signals, Smoke X4, and Thermopop
      Slow n' Sear XL (2)
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      http://completecarnivore.com is my site

    Get the hanger steak if you can. Delicious cut. Skirt would be another one worth asking for.


    • mountainsmoker
      Banned Former Member
      • Jun 2019
      • 1849
      • Bryson City, NC

      Good chart but I cannot see the lower cuts.


      • IowaGirl
        Club Member
        • Dec 2018
        • 675
        • Northeast Iowa, USA

        Problem with a tomahawk type steak with those long rib bones attached is you gotta have enough room in your freezer for them. For the home freezer, a bone-in "normal" ribeye is fine, but I'd rather the ribs be ... ribs.

        Think about how you cook when making decisions. Do you like to cook roasts? Do you use a lot of ground beef? Some parts of the beef can go either way, but if you hate roasts and like burgers, you'd be shooting yourself in the foot to have too many roasts and not enough ground beef. The size of the packages is also a factor -- you might like 1 lb packages of ground beef and 2-3 lb roasts when cooking for 2, but 1 1/2 to 2 lb packages and 3-4 lb roasts if you have kids.
        Last edited by IowaGirl; October 22, 2019, 07:43 AM. Reason: clarified what I meant


        • Dewesq55
          Dewesq55 commented
          Editing a comment
          Another issue with tomahawks is they consume your short ribs. Regular bone-in ribeyes, rather than tomahawks, are probably better if you want beef ribs (and you do!)

        • Troutman
          Troutman commented
          Editing a comment
          Thawks are for show, not for dough
      • Polarbear777
        Club Member
        • Sep 2016
        • 1842

        You get to pick? When i've tried this, you get roughly a half and don't get to determine the cuts.

        Having a choice, I'd take everything on the front half of the cow, left cut as large/whole as possible.


        • theroc
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 793
          • Altadena, CA
            • Camp Chef 24" Smoke Vault
            • Buckaroo Chunk Wood Grill
            • Weber Summit Gold D Gas Grill
            • Fireboard
            • Thermapen MkIV

          +1 to Polarbear777 . When we got a quarter cow we weren't offered a choice of cuts. That's a nice option.
          Agree that if possible get cuts as large as possible; you can cut down into steaks as your prefer. I also wish we had received more bone-in pieces, especially the steaks (e.g. we got filets and strips rather than porterhouses). Ask to leave them bone-in if you can.



          • Troutman
            Club Member
            • Aug 2017
            • 7605
            • aka Troutman Taco - Hanging Free in Tejas

            • OUTDOOR COOKERS

              BBQ ACCESSORIES


              SOUS VIDE

              INDOOR COOKWARE

            I think you should go rent a 1000 gallon stick burner, throw the whole thing on there and invite your AR friends to the feast !!!


            • IowaGirl
              Club Member
              • Dec 2018
              • 675
              • Northeast Iowa, USA

              "You get to pick?..."

              Yep, sometimes you do. It depends on the butcher shop and how you're buying the meat. If it's a special the butcher is offering, then you might get whatever cuts the butcher specifies. But many lockers will cut to order within reason, at least here in the upper Midwest.

              I won a $100 meat bundle in a raffle last year. The butcher let me specify how the meat was packaged and I could pick specific cuts from a list. So it wasn't entirely my choice, but he offered a nice selection to pick from.

              If the locker does custom butchering -- as in you bring in the animal and have it slaughtered for you -- then in my experience you have a lot of say in what they do for you.

              Keep in mind too that many lockers provide the meat already frozen, so I'm not sure I entirely agree with the advice to have them keep the meat in large cuts. If you specify you want large cuts, such as a whole ribeye, for example, then you're going to end up cutting ribeye steaks from meat that's previously been frozen. If you can't really use all the steaks in one big cook, then your faced with the question of do you really want to refreeze that meat? IMO, that's not an ideal situation for food quality.

              It's better, for example, to specify you want one 3 pound ribeye roast with the rest being 2" thick bone-in ribeye steaks, and let the butcher do that work. That way you're only thawing just the food you're going to cook and it's in smaller packages so it thaws quicker.

              If you want to cook a whole ribeye for a crowd, then you would of course want the ribeye left whole, but that's a different situation.


              • pkadare
                Club Member
                • Jun 2019
                • 949
                • Bobcaygeon, Ontario
                • My gear:
                  22 Weber Kettle
                  Napoleon PRO Charcoal Kettle Grill
                  Broil King Keg
                  Traeger Pro 34
                  Napoleon Prestige Pro 500
                  Pit Barrel Cooker
                  Blackstone Range Combo Griddle

                Sorry for being a smart aleck here but when I first read the topic title I was thinking, "Hmm, I've heard of grass fed and corn fed beef but I've never heard of beef fed beef." :-)


                • Bkhuna
                  Club Member
                  • Apr 2019
                  • 609
                  • Merritt Island Florida

                  I'm confused. Are you refering to a side of beef? In my way of thinking is that there are two sides on each carcass. A side should, logically, contain one of each of the 8 primals, with thickness retail cuts determined by you.

                  What am I missing?
                  Last edited by Bkhuna; October 22, 2019, 01:21 PM.


                  • Dewesq55
                    Dewesq55 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    There are different ways to butcher a side of beef. The Bearded Butchers have s good video on this when they demonstrate both a boneless butchering and then another front quarter with bone in cuts. Even within those 2 options, there are sub-options for how you want different primal processed.



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