Follow cattle from farm to fork

  • Kevin Halligan, chef at The Local Eatery in Laconia (left), and butcher Tom Rendall (right), demonstrate how to break a half animal into steaks, roasts and ground beef. Courtesy of Carole Soule

For the Monitor
Monday, March 12, 2018

You know that beef comes from a cow or steer, right? Did you know that each cow provides only two tenderloin roasts and it can take four critters to produce 40 pounds of tenderloin? Did you know that there are only two flank steaks per cow? Why is this important? It’s important because edible meat is created one animal at a time. To respect that cow, we should use the whole animal. This is known as “nose-to-tail” processing.

So how do you learn to cut beef? Four chefs pulled out their knives at the New Hampshire Food Bank this week to demonstrate beef cutting. The focus of the demonstration was breaking-down a grassfed, two-year-old Hereford cross cow. The heifer named Brooke was raised on Miles Smith Farm and made the trip to the butcher in North Haverhill a few weeks ago. Then, chef and instructor at the N.H. Food Bank, Jayson McCarter, and I drove to the processor to pick up what was now a “hanging half.”

More than 40 culinary arts students gathered Monday night while Kevin Halligan, chef at The Local Eatery Restaurant in Laconia, and butcher Tom Rendall, demonstrated how to break the half down into steaks, roasts and ground beef.

Knives flashed while the chefs explained how to extract cuts like rib steaks and roasts to the students and their teachers. After the demo, some of the beef was ground and cooked for samples and at the end of the night, each school group left with some meat.

The program was hosted by the New Hampshire Food Bank. Students from Nashua High School North, Nashua High School South, Concord High School, Alvirne High School, Manchester School of Technology and the Southern New Hampshire University Culinary School participated.

Cutting up a side of beef might not be for you, but watching a skilled chef is pure magic. I watched as a slab of meat was transformed into steaks and roasts we would all recognize. When alive, this heifer did her part to make the world greener through grazing, and now has helped future chefs learn more about where our meat comes from.

Her legacy lives on.

(Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon. She can be reached at cas@milessmithfarm.com.)