We are always on the lookout for ways to save money and maximize resources. One thing that we do is buy meat in bulk whenever possible, then cut and package at home. When you buy steaks or roasts in a grocery store, the butcher has trimmed the large cuts of some fat and connective tissue in addition to slicing it into package size cuts. Every cut by a butcher adds to the cost of the final package.
The most common pieces of beef we buy are whole tenderloin, whole ribeye and eye round. Each of these chunks of beef are 7 to 10 pounds in size. A very sharp knife, cutting board that can be sanitized and a Foodsaver are additional requirements.
Here is the method I use:
Start with trimming the whole piece of excess fat and connective tissue or silver skin from the exterior. The meat is then sliced into steaks, roasts, chunks for stew, or fajita slices; sealed and frozen. All of the trimmings are saved and frozen in baggies.
After a few sessions of meat cutting, 5 pounds or so of trimmings have accumulated. Toss frozen scraps into a stock pot with 2-3 cups of water and simmer for 3 hours. Strain out the broth and separate fat from broth.
The fat makes suet cakes for the birds. Fill an aluminum cake pan about half full of birdseed, fill with melted fat. This sets up quickly even at room temperature. It is easier to cut however if chilled for at least 30 minutes.
The defatted broth makes a delicious base for noodles even without any added meat.
The trimmings that would have been trash produce a meal for humans and animals at the Farm. We are still looking for a good use for the boiled beef scraps that are strained out of the broth. If you have suggestions, please leave a comment.