Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dry Aged Flat Iron. The Breakdown.

I'd like to start by expressing my gratitude for all of the folks that visit my blog, especially those that have become denizens. I'm so proud of what the blog has become and I'm thrilled that there is such an interest in what I've been doing. I spread this message around earlier on Facebook and Twitter, but I'll repeat it here: 

"One year. 50 posts. 100,000 page views... I wouldn't do it without you." 

I truly mean that. For this site to have struck such a chord really humbles me. If no one cared, I'd be doing all this in the privacy of my own home. Instead, I've tried to invite you in and teach what I know in the formats available to me. 

So without any further ado, here we go!

What you'll need: One whole, untrimmed Top-Blade Roast (Flat Iron). Cheesecloth. 1 S-hook. Twine. 

This membrane runs throughout the entire muscle, tapering off at the end. Pierce the thickest part of this with a meat hook and thread some twine through it. Tie twine into a knot. This is where we'll be hanging the Flat Iron from. 

Using enough cheesecloth to completely cover the roast, wrap the meat like you would a sandwich. 

Make sure to keep the hook on the outside of the cloth. 

Once wrapped, loosely bind the roast with twine. 

Hang the roast from the top rack in your refrigerator.. The reason we're hanging this vertically is to make sure the entire roast is able to breathe. Also, make sure your fridge is nice and clean!

I let the roast hang for 10 days. You can tell when a piece is done when the meat has become noticeably more dense and the outside develops a hard crust.
Notice the deep, dark red color of the meat and the flaky brown-cream fat. The fat will feel slightly greasy; a feeling that I've come to really love!

As you would treat any hard-tissue (where muscle meats bone) and silverskin, start cleaning off the  bone-side of the roast. The goal here is to expose the Flat Iron muscle as a whole and keep it intact. 


For those that aren't familiar, there are two strokes in trimming silver, the forward stroke and the backward stroke. When you're going forward, your knife will be angled slightly upwards to literally scrape the meat off the silver and you back stroke is your finishing stroke - same concept, opposite angle. 

Once cleaned, start peeling the Flat Iron away from the fat cap. 

Peel with your free hand while severing any connective tissue with the tip of your knife. This motion should be rather fluid, in that both hands are working together. 

Making progress...

I wouldn't recommend using the exposed fat for anything other than raccoon food, but I've been crazy enough to mix it with lean beef and make hamburgers - which were pretty outstanding!

Scrape off any bits of fat remaining on the layer of silverskin that met with the fat cap. 
Again, trimming silver skin 101. Forwards. 

Repeat until the muscle is smooth and clean. 

Now... I vowed to keep this secret to myself, but seeing as though it's this blogs 1-year anniversary, I'm going to share with you something that me and one other person do. The other cutter that does this is my friend Sebastian, who I've had the pleasure of training for the last year or so. 

Using a meat hook...
Hook the hole where the twine was to help you get a a grip that won't falter. 

At this point, you'll be able to hold the roast in a solid position while you guide your knife along the top of the heavy silver. This motion is just like cleaning a fish!
After every inch or so, check your progress. 

Not the cleanest I've ever done, but the method is relatively effortless compared to the way I was taught. 

Trim away any remaining silver bits that may remain.... 

And Voila! Four servings of Dry Aged Flat Iron.

As an added bonus, I made a real-ish time video of this process - except that I forgot to turn the microphone on, so it's set to a Woody Guthrie tune and story. Enjoy!

Thanks again, 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pork Shoulder. The Breakdown.

This is home butchering in one of its most basic forms: Pork Shoulder. Not only is Pork Shoulder readily available almost anywhere, it's moderately priced and extremely versatile. I can't think of a cut of Pork more useful and versatile than the Shoulder. It's composed of multiple muscle groupings, so it offers a great introductory-level lesson in Seam Butchery. This is a video taken while my friend, Beau and I were preparing to make multiple batches of sausage with some Venison and Wild Boar that Beau bagged this season. Adding Pork to Venison and Wild Boar sausage recipes is essential on account of the wild animals being so lean!

I hope you enjoyed it, I think it's funny you can hear my daughter's movie playing in the background... Home Butchery at its finest!