Breaking Down Beef with Retail Butchers and a Small Meat Processor

Author: Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Program Manager, Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network

Publish Date: Winter 2017

At the Women in Sustainable Agriculture conference in Portland, Oregon in early December 2016, NMPAN staff had the privilege to help organize and attend a morning workshop on breaking down a beef forequarter. Samantha Garwin of Fleishers Meats in Brooklyn, NY flew out to give the demonstration, and Patty Kloft of Century Oak Packing in Mt. Angel and Ben Meyer of Old Salt Marketplace in Portland were also on hand to discuss the different ways they butcher beef, add value to it, and market it to customers.

Attendees included farmers and ranchers, marketers, extension personnel, writers, and researchers. Some key lessons learned were the importance of breaking down the forequarter in different ways that could add value to the carcass and provide more options for consumers; how aging could be done with just primals instead of the whole carcass; what can be done with the deckle, such as incorporating into an aged beef special grind; how frozen meat needs to be thawed correctly so it doesn’t produce excess moisture while cooking; and cook them in order to properly sell them.

“The best thing about this workshop,” said NMPAN Director Lauren Gwin, “was having a retail butcher and a meat processor side by side, explaining how they do certain things differently. Their businesses share important goals about meat quality, customer satisfaction, and sustainability, but they have to operate in different ways.”

NMPAN is working with Rebecca and Fred Gerendasy, professional videographers of the Cooking Up a Story website, to document this workshop in a video. Watch the NMPAN listserv for an announcement when it’s ready. You can watch all NMPAN videos and webinars at our YouTube channel:

Sign up for NMPAN updates and announcements of webinars and new meat processing resources at Enter your email address where it says “NMPAN on Google Groups” on the right hand side, and click the importance of understanding beef cuts and how to subscribe.