The Cut Sheet: Conquering the Step From Hoof to Freezer
Updated: Sep 19, 2020
Your Guide to Conquering the Cut Sheet!
Here at TOTW it is our goal to sell meat in bulk. This is why we don’t break out our cuts into individually priced items. We like to sell in bulk for sustainability purposes: sustainability in our business, in our efforts in sales and transport, in the packaging and storage of our products etc. Technically, we are selling you the animal on-the-hoof and we are offering delivery to Atlas Meats in Fort Collins, CO (our closest USDA Certified Custom Processor), and we pick-up once the animal has been processed if desired- as a complimentary service and as a thank-you for your business. If you want your animal processed at a different facility we can certainly work out delivery and the works with your choice of butcher. Buying in bulk also means you can have your meat cut and packaged exactly the way you want it. Great! ... Now, how do I tell the butcher what I want? What if I don't even know what I want? What even comes off of a hog after processing? Is it all bacon? Is it all going to fit in my freezer? AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Breathe, and visualize that pastured pork chop freshly cooked on your plate.
Here we go! First, download the form off of the Atlas Meats Website here: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/14dd828410dd4225b89af5d7568e6eae/files/uploaded/New%20hog%20cutting%20form.pdf And print it out. We realize this process can be a bit overwhelming at first so we created this guide to help make sure you do get what you want our of your bulk pork order. First of all we price our bulk pork based on the hanging weight that the butcher gives us after the animal is hung in the freezer, but still before it is packaged into the individual cuts. This is standard procedure when it comes to buying meat on-the-hoof and keeps things clean, simple, and legal. The processing fees after this step are passed on to the purchaser of the product, cutting, wrapping, curing, spices for sausage etc. because these prices will vary greatly depending on what you want done with your meat, and legally we cannot resell any products cured or spiced by Atlas Meats (more explanation of this below). Some Thoughts on Amount: 1/2 hog should fit in the standard stand up or pull-out drawer freezer that is often in combination with a fridge, but you won't have room for much else in there. We recommend you make sure you have space for your pork in the freezer before it comes time to bring it home. Chest freezers are a great option and are usually pretty cost effective and easy to find at appliance stores. This way you don't have to sacrifice all of your freezer space for your year's supply of meat! The average hog we butcher is about 250lbs on the hoof, this translates to about 180 lbs hanging weight and will be about 150 lbs packaged (more if you keep the organs, neck bones, and fat) with a lot of the bones and some other components removed. This chart is helpful, although the carcass weight they use is a bit lighter than our average: http://askthemeatman.com/pork_processing_percentage.htm The short answer to the Bacon Question is- each hog yields about 10 lbs of bacon. Half a hog lasts Chris and I about 5 months. We eat a lot of meat so the average couple would probably take longer to use up 1/2 a hog. Looking at the cut sheet and starting at the top left corner: Do not worry about filling out the contact info. Since we will be coordinating the pickup and delivery of the meat once it is finished we will fill out this part for you.
Top Right: Kill Date, Cut Date etc. This is for Atlas Meats Use only. You do not need to fill out anything in the blanks for this section. Below the blanks on the right side is the option to Paper Wrap or Vacuum Pack. Please circle which option you prefer. Paper wrapping is more environmentally friendly of course; however, Atlas’s vacuum packaging uses plastic and tends to prevent freezer burn longer. If you go through pork rather quickly- in a few months or less (like we do) the paper wrapping should be sufficient. If it will take you 6 months or longer to eat all of the pork you will have in your freezer we recommend the vacuum sealed. Alright, now for the meat cutting decisions!
WARNING, THIS PART MAY MAKE YOU HUNGRY FOR PASTURED PORK! As a general rule for your hog, you have 3 options: cut the designated portions into large roasts, slice the portions into smaller steaks, cut the meat up into stew meat and/or grind it into fresh ground pork and/or sausage. Roasts vs Steaks: For our personal supply of meat, Chris and I are conservative when it comes to cutting roasts into steaks for several reasons-
We eat a lot of meat and we don’t have to worry about large packages spoiling after we thaw them out. Roasts require less packaging and storage space than steaks- our freezer is usually very full of various types of meat, thus we are limited on personal freezer space. We like the freedom and flexibility to cook entire roasts, make pulled pork, or even cut roasts up into steaks ourselves if we feel the need to later.
Ground Pork: If you do choose to grind the meat of any portions of the hog, you also have the option to designate how large (by weight) your packages of ground pork will be divided into. We recommend 1 lb packages as this seems to be the average amount of pork called for in recipes when cooking a meal for 2 to 4 people at a time. We have some customers that grind the whole hog except for the bacon, so if you like ground pork, chorizo and sausage best, feel free to grind as much or as little of the hog as you would like. Even if you elect to keep all your cuts as roasts and steaks, you do always end up with some scraps and you can choose what to do with these.
Remember, you can allocate as much of your ground meat to be seasoned as Italian, Breakfast or German sausage, Chorizo, or Bratwursts, as you want. Atlas Meats is well known for their sausage spice mixes- they are pretty great! For your info, their chorizo tends to not be very spicy. First, designate the meat cuts you want ground in the middle section of the form, then at the bottom of the form you divide up your ground pork into the type of seasoned pork you would like- if any. NOTE: Because Atlas Meats is not USDA certified in their curing and spicing processes, we cannot resell products that have been cured by Atlas Meats. The only way to get bacon, ham, sausage, or chorizo legally made with TOTW pork is to buy pork in bulk from us and then have the meat custom processed for you directly from Atlas by filling this form out yourself. This is why we do not cover curing and spice fees (If this is unclear please give us a call and we will explain further.) Now for the Specific Cuts! Shoulder: We recommend roasts for the shoulder as this portion of the hog is great for slow cooking into things like pulled pork. Steaks of this cut are very well-marbled and juicy and long! If you do want steaks cut for individual servings we suggest 1 or 2 per package because one of these steaks is often 2 servings. Picnic: This cut is also part of the shoulder, but lower on the leg like a mini-ham. Because of the nicely marbled fat content of the picnic shoulder we recommend you leave your picnic shoulder in roasts as well. This way you can use the Picnic Shoulder as a pot roast or for pulled pork. If you do want steaks though we suggest you follow the same tips as we suggested for the Shoulder Cut. Loin: The loin is the long portion along the back of the hog, usually about 10 lbs per side or 20lbs per hog. It can be left in pork loin roasts- usually you get 3 or 4 per side, or you can have it cut into chops. If you choose to cut these portions into chops you can designate the thickness. Thinner chops are easier to overcook- because of this we prefer pork chops cut at ¾” or greater. We usually put down 1” for our chops as we like them just a blush of pink in the center when cooked to a temp of around 140 degrees F. For loin roasts we like 3 to 4 lbs per package. This size is manageable for fitting into a large crock pot or oven roasting. For chops we like 2 chops per package. Consider the thickness you selected here. If you picked 1” chops, 2 chops per package may be a lot for the number of people in your household. For Chris and I- 2, 1” chops is just right for a meal for us, but we are big (meat) eaters and we do a lot of physical labor, so we don’t hold back when it comes to cooking and eating tasty and nutritious food! Note: The old form used to have a section where you could select boneless chops and then you would have the additional option for baby-back ribs. If this is something you are interested in, let us know and we can probably get that worked into your cutting order. Spare Ribs: The spare ribs are the lower half of the ribs along the side/belly of the hog. You get one rack per side of pork. They are larger than the baby-back ribs and have very rich and fatty meat attached to them since they are along the cut of meat that your bacon will come from. If you don’t like ribs, you can have the meat attached to each rib removed from the bone and ground, the formatting seems to have gotten a little wonky here on this form, so the blanks below the Spare Ribs portion are really for designating the ribs to be ground if desired. Honestly, I’m not sure what anyone would put in the total seasonings field, so I usually leave this blank. Ham/Bacon: Atlas’s cures are tasty and not overly-salty (like a lot of grocery store cured meat can be) they are also nitrate-salt based. You can expect about 20 lbs of ham and 10 lbs of bacon per hog. Many folks don’t like nitrates in their food, so Atlas does offer fresh-uncured options. Nitrates occur naturally in plants like celery, so Chris and I don’t mind the nitrate cures Atlas uses. For ham we like to get a mixture of cured roasts and steaks. Atlas tends to cut bacon pretty thick. Their thinnest option is a lot like the thick-cut options you would find at the grocery store. Their thickest option is VERY thick! Their cure is pretty tasty. It is also a nitrate-salt cure. If you are interested in uncured bacon/pork belly check the FRESH box. Chris and I alternate choosing thick and thin-cut bacon between batches of pork because we both have opposite preferences. The thicker bacon is very hard to cook to the point of crispy, which is why Chris likes it. He likes his bacon soft and juicy, so he prefers the thickest option which is like luscious slabs of cured pork belly. In my opinion the thinnest cut bacon is the best because I can get it to be crispy yet still melt-in-your-mouth rich. If you have never had home-grown bacon before, you are sure in for a treat! Bacon at the grocery store just doesn’t compare, and after you try pastured bacon you will realize how much the industry tries to cover up the lack of flavor in their pork with salt. Just like most of the products we grow, I struggle to eat the restaurant and grocery store version anymore because the difference is so drastic… Bratwurst: Check the blank if you would like bratwursts and then designate how many links per package you would like. Organ Meat and Neck Bones: Even if you aren’t interested in these, please check YES on all, then send me a note if you aren’t interested in them. We will use them or find others who are interested in them, so please do not let them go to waste! Write in large letters at the top and bottom of the page anything extra that you want off of the hog, the feet, the Hocks (which you can have cured or fresh and they are soooooo good for ham and beans in a crock pot), the ears for dog treats, some folks even like to boil the head for soups/stews and other things. Please request the FAT in large letters at the top and bottom of the page. The lard off of our pigs is fantastic and should not go to waste. You can use it in your cooking as a replacement for shortening and/or butter. You can also add it to ground meat that is very lean for additional flavor. Since our pigs’ diet is varied and consists of a lot of veggies, fruits, and pasture plants, the fat is very nutrient dense and is just too good to waste. Even if you don’t personally want these extra items we always request them and we can pull them out of your order and find other homes for them if you absolutely do not want to take them home. This is part of our zero-waste-mission for sustainability, and believe me, there are people who want every part of the hog! __________________________________________________________________ We sincerely hope this has helped you fill out your cut sheet in a way that will get you the most out of your purchase. If you have any questions at all please let me know. Give me a call or text me anytime 307-399-4893 and I will be more than happy to help you through this process. It can be overwhelming at first, but we think you will really come to appreciate the quality of the product and the opportunity to have it cut and wrapped exactly how you want it. Congratulations on your sustainable and smart bulk pastured pork purchase! By purchasing and consuming TOTW products you are a valued member of our team. You are a supporter of local ag, and you are helping to reduce food waste and hunger in your community. By purchasing TOTW pork in bulk you are taking an extra step towards sustainability in the way you eat. We take pride in our products and all of the passion and hard work that go into producing them in a sustainable way and we have confidence that you will love the meat you are about to receive! Thank you! BJ, Chris and the TOTW Crew