Beef, glorious beef


We cut up some more beef, a heifer with a carcass weight of 282.4kg. It was 25-26 months old at slaughter, which means it had plenty of time to store the flavor of our pastures.

The long number in the label below is the cow’s ID, the same as is on its ear tag.


Note that Condom is the name of the nearby town with the abattoir we use. The town name really becomes something worth commenting about in a few years when my kids go to Condom High School.

The butcher drafted in his dad to help him out.


I had a hard time getting the white balance right on the camera but I think this shot is closer to reality. Just like the young bull, the grass-fed meat is darker than the cereal-fattened beef the butcher usually uses. This one was aged 23 days which gives its surface a different look to a younger carcass.


To perform regular slices the butcher used the fancy stainless steel machine on the back wall. He bought it because he’s having a hard time finding people to work with him, so he’s buying machinery to ease his labor costs. From what I can tell there are about five or six people that work there and on their farm but they are all in the family.

He has tried to hire people but they would rather get unemployment benefit than get their hands dirty. They also have fallen into the trap of believing the 35-hour week is real anywhere outside of a government department. If someone wants to learn how to be a butcher I can think of worse places to work.


In the fancy machine you load a large chunk of beef and program the panel and it does regular slices in seconds.


The locals make pot-au-feu with the ribs.


Since the animal was only fed on pasture, its fat is something I’m happy to feed my kids.


Here is the tenderloin all chopped up by machine. If this was just for me and I was being a fancy pants I’d cut it twice as thick, but if I did that we’d affect the supply of cuts available for each box.


The band saw is used to clean up some of the bones off the faux filet, although I’ve also heard it called other names like entrecôte, Porterhouse (in the UK – in the US a Porterhouse has the tenderloin on the other side like a giant t-bone), sirloin, NY strip and so on. Everywhere you go people call this awesome cut by a different name.


Some nice mountains of beefy goodness. The entrecôte steaks in the foreground are further forward on the carcass than the big faux filet steaks in the shot above. These are the favored cut of a grasspunk.


OK, I’m hungry now, but we sold out of this beef. There are a few of the cheaper cuts in the freezer to keep me going until the next beef in three months.

9 thoughts on “Beef, glorious beef

  1. Gordon Milligan says:

    That is some great looking beef and that marbling looks awsome. I bet it taste as good as it looks.

    If I was a younger man I would think about working for your butcher, I would love to live in France and learn a new language and a new skill.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Amazing photos, your beef looks lush! Great to see what goes on behind the scenes… here’s hoping the the rest of France’s producers catch on that local, forage fed animals are the way to go.

  3. bc says:

    Gordon, thanks. It is better marbled than the young bull we slaughtered previously, as to be expected. Still, I think we can do better. But the flavor is of higher importance to us than the marbling. The marbling is something visible you can check at the supermarket, but the flavor is more important to us.

  4. bc says:

    Matron, there’s a story that the English steal the town sign names. No idea if it is true.

    Zélie (kid 4) could have been born at Condom Hospital but forever her passport would have listed Condom as her place of birth. As it turned out we chose the larger hospital at Auch so she misses out on all that fun at immigration control.

  5. Susan Lea says:

    Lovely beef, lovely color to it, and how great that you get to observe and take photos. I’ll be interested to see ours when we get our first beef.

    I LOVE the name of your town. Zélie will probably thank you some day for going to Auch for her birth! I bet it’s Americans stealing the signs! As long as you don’t advertise your beef as packaged “sans préservatifs!” 😀

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