Having been farmers and butchers for 24 years now, looking in the rearview mirror affords good perspective on meat trends. For example, when we first started Pine View Farms, about 90% of our chickens were sold whole and about 10% were cut up into parts.
The demand for quick cooking chicken breast flipped demand, and today, we cut up approximately 90% of our chickens and bag only 10% whole.
Chicken breast is approximately 48% of a chicken. If we sell all the chicken breast, what do we do with the other 52% of the chicken? We make sausage, souvlaki, burgers and other cuts to move the whole bird.
Running a farm-to-fork meat business means that we must sell the WHOLE animal from nose-to-tail. It’s a tricky balancing act!
We can’t just order in the pieces we want from a massive wholesaler and stock the freezers. We must use the whole pig, steer or chicken before it pays to process another animal, otherwise we’re just losing money.
Put another way, we can’t just raise a pork chop! We must find a home for the ground meat, ribs, leg and shoulder cuts by selling meat to chefs and making sausages, deli meats, snack sticks, roulade and burgers for consumers.
This forms the basis of Nose-to-Tail butchery and eating --- where one uses all parts of the animal.
Nose-to-tail eating not only embraces the natural cycles of the farm but also offers the following benefits to meat eaters:
- Environmental – waste less meat by utilizing all parts of the animal from soup bones to liver to oxtail.
- Ethical – by using the whole animal, we respect the source of our food by only taking what we need and fully using it.
- Economical – often the lesser known cuts cost a fraction of popular cuts like steak, and with a little time and preparation, deliver excellent flavour.
It sounds contradictory, but you can be an animal lover and a meat eater. Nose-to-tail eating celebrates every part of the animal and fewer animals are used as a result.
At Pine View Farms, we actively try to reduce food waste and use as much of the animal as possible to feed people. We also use the trimmings and off-cuts to make pet food.
[As an aside, the other waste byproducts that cannot be consumed are picked up by West Coast Reductions to be rendered down for other uses. Nothing goes to waste!]
Chefs have embraced nose-to-tail eating as a creative and affordable way to make fabulous food for patrons. Many of the best restaurants in Saskatoon buy lesser-known cuts from us, such as:
Primal Restaurant uses our marrow bones on their appetizer menu, pork bones for broth, and beef heart in their Bolognese sauce.
Ayden Kitchen & Bar buys pig’s heads for head cheese, pork shoulder butts and trim for cured and smoked meats you’ll find on their charcuterie platter.
Sticks & Stones uses our pig’s feet and soup bones to make their richly delicious ramen broth.
Hearth Restaurant uses our chicken and beef bones for stock. Beef brisket was astoundingly popular on their 2021 menu.
Odd Couple uses our chicken thighs and has used beef cheeks and short ribs on some of their past Travels with Odd Couple menus.
If you would like to begin a nose-to-tail adventure, here are a few tips:
- Know your meat source – find a farmer and butcher you trust. Ask them all your questions and feel good about the meat you eat.
- Build a charcuterie platter – most of those meats come from “off cuts”. At Pine View Farms, we also make blood sausage and liverwurst which work beautifully alongside some prosciutto and salamis.
- Go Piece by Piece – try one cut at a time, find a recipe from our archive and give it a go!
- Start with Bone Broth – rich in collagen and nutrients, making your own broth is good for you AND a good use of soup bones. Or if you don’t have time for that, choose our ready-made bone broths.
- Use Your Smoker – low and slow cooking is the perfect method for shoulders, ribs and leg cuts.
- Get Tips from the Pros – at Pine View Farms we can help you select cuts and explain how to cook it for best results.
- New Tastes & Old Favourites – for example prepare a bone marrow butter to top your ribeye steak, or make a pork terrine to serve alongside a pork loin roast. Blending new and familiar cuts will help you feel confident in the kitchen.
- Buy Bulk – purchasing a side or hind of beef or a side of pork gives you all the cuts at great prices. This is a really good deal if you enjoy the premium cuts!
As you open your mind to new flavours, remember:
- Tougher cuts are filled with collagen and require a low and slow cooking method to break down the collagen. The result is richly delicious, fork tender meat that is well worth the time.
- Marinating your meat in an acidic marinade using lemon juice, wine, beer, tomatoes, or vinegars will break down fibres to make the meat tender and flavourful.
- Low and slow is the best cooking method so consider your slow cooker, oven, and smoker your friend. Set it and forget it. How easy is that?
- If you’re in a hurry, use your Instant Pot!
We’d be interested to know what you’re cooking these days. Drop us a line any time.