Picking your cow portion is a matter of taste. Weighing your cooking and eating preferences against the cuts at hand is a great way to decide. Let’s begin with the front quarter, a particularly great choice for grilling.
While the least expensive part of the animal, the front quarter is full of delicious cuts. There are four main sections here: the rib primal, the plate primal, the brisket, and the chuck.
With Source Farms beef, the carcass is always separated between the lowest two ribs. In other words, the rear quarter contains one rib and the front quarter contains the rest. One of the most coveted cuts, the ribeye, comes from the front. This muscle does very little work and is therefor very tender and often well-marbled. Boneless versions of this cut can be called ribeye or Delmonico, as popularized by the New York steak restaurant of the same name.
There are bone-in versions of the ribeye too, which include rib cap muscle that many people believe to be the tastiest bite of beef on the entire animal. That’s up for debate, but we do know that cooking with bone-in steaks tends to be more flavorful.
The rib section can also be cut as one of three kinds of roasts, a standing rib roast, a cross-cut rib roast, or a prime rib roast. Front quarters yield about 15-20 points of premium rib meat which can be cut as steaks or roasts.
The ribs are often used in some of the most eye-catching beef presentations, like when they are Frenched, cut into Tomahawk steaks, or standing rib roasts. This part of the cow can also produce flanken, short ribs, and spare ribs.
We can cut steaks to any thickness desired, boneless or bone-in. Let us know your preferred thickness and how many you’d like and we’ll make it happen.
Otherwise known as the shoulder, this section yields about 40 pounds of meat. Common cuts include chuck roasts, under blade steaks, mock tender roasts, mock tender steaks, top blade steaks, or shoulder center cut roasts or steaks. Simply put, you can have this part of the animal made into roasts, steaks (chuck, Denver, flat-iron), stew meat, ground meat, or any combination of the above.
The loose muscle flap under the neck, the brisket is the décolletage of the cow. It’s made up of hard-working pectoral muscles, meaning the consistency is fairly tough. This meat is ideal for slow cooking or slow smoking. Brisket is traditionally cured and smoked and made into corned beef. You can have it made into roasts, stew meat, or ground meat.
Most shares are made up of about 35% ground beef. These are the useful scraps that come from well-trimmed steaks and roasts. Source Farms standard 1/8 shares target 75-80% lean for ground beef.
This is the belly and the smallest of the front-quarter primal sections. Often fatty and tough, it can be cured and smoked as bacon or made into skirt steak or fajita strips. It’s also a good choice for ground beef and stew cubes.
Ordering a Front-Quarter
All Source Farms front-quarter packages are a great deal for the cuts included. Consider the following when selecting an option:
- Freezer space (five cubic feet suggested)
- Cooking and eating preferences
A front-quarter is generally 170 pounds in hanging weight, but can range anywhere from 120 pounds to 220 pounds. The quarter is custom cut to your specifications and generally yields 120 pounds of finished beef. The total, on average, is $1000, or $6.25/pound.
Shares from the Front-Quarter
Front Quarter “Summer Cuts” Package: With the extra processing for franks and parries, the package is priced at $7.00/lb. Hanging weight, all processing included as described below.
- 2 X briskets, each about 3-4 pounds
- About 6 X 2-inch-thick Tomahawk ribeye steaks
- 4 X flat-iron steaks
- 4 X 2-lb. pkgs seamless premium kebab chunks
- 6 X Denver steaks
- About 15 lbs. preformed burger patties (1/3-lb. patties, in packages of four)
- About 15 lbs. all-beef franks in pork casing
- About 15 lbs. bulk plain ground beef in 1-lb. packages
1/8 Front Burger: This includes about 90% ground beef and 10% steaks. This is a great share for fast, inexpensive meals like grilled burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, potstickers, and cutlers. It’s also a great between-shares package if you just need a little more ground beef to get you through whatever else is in your freezer. Overall, a front-eighth will run about $500, or $6.50/pound.
1/8 Front Roasts and Braises: This share includes prime rib roast, pot roast, flanked ribs, cross-cut shanks, stew cubes, and ground beef (although the least amount of ground meat of out standard packages). The yield is slightly higher because many of the cuts are bone-in and the total package is about $1000, or $6.75/pound.
Hanging Weight and Yield
Hanging weight refers to the weight of the front-quarter of the animal, hanging in one piece on a hook the day it was killed. A quarter of beef weighs 170 pounds on average (true whether we’re talking about the root quarter, rear quarter, or split quarter). Some weight is lost to evaporation during the 10-12 day dry aging period. More is lost to gristle, bones, and scraps during butchering.
Generally, about 60-66% of a cow becomes finished beef. That means that about two-thirds of the hanging weight becomes delicious wrapped meat you can enjoy at home. Our “1/8th front/burger” share yields less, about 55%, because it is all processed into ground beef (all of the bones are removed from the finished weight). A quarter will require about five cubic feet of freezer space while an 1/8th requires about 2.5 cubic feet. Beef keeps well in the freezer for two or more years.