Basic No Bones Home Butchering

Home butchering is always going to be messy, but the author's "no bones" technique makes it much less complicated.

| November/December 1984

My first successful big-game hunt came at the age of 14. I learned then how to field-dress and skin a deer, but I wasn't quite ready to take on the formidable task of butchering such a large animal. (Besides, the Thanksgiving holiday was over by the time I got home from the hunt, and I was due to return to my duties as an eighth-grade delinquent.) So after I'd properly prepared the field-dressed carcass by removing the hide, head, and lower legs, my dad hauled it to the neighborhood butcher, who cooled it in his meat locker for a few days, then converted it into neatly wrapped and marked packages of meat ... all for the very fair price of 3 cents a pound.

Things have changed over the quarter of a century that has elapsed since that first hunt, and these days, in the Colorado Rockies where I live, it would cost me more than ten times as much to have a deer or other big game animal processed professionally.

So I don't.

Instead, I do it myself. Have been for several years now. And so can you. I'll tell you my method of no bones home butchering, but first, take a few minutes to study Figs. 1 and 2 and read the accompanying brief description of professional butchering techniques. That way, you'll be in a better position to see how my somewhat unorthodox method differs from the norm.

Let me begin by drawing a couple of broad generalizations: In general, professional-style butchering involves producing cuts of meat that look like those you're used to seeing in the grocer's meat cooler: T-bone steaks with those T-shaped bones right there where they should be, for instance. But to produce such aesthetic cuts of meat takes skill and a lot of tedious back-and-forthing with a bone saw: A task that a professional butcher, working in a commercial meat-processing shop, can whiz through in a matter of seconds with a powerful electric band saw would take you or me a good deal longer to accomplish by hand. What's more, unless you're careful and have at least a smattering of knowledge about what you're doing, you're likely to wind up with bone dust polluting those hard-earned steaks.

My butchering technique is totally different: I remove the meat from the bones. That eliminates the time- and energy-consuming sawing chores, but at the same time produces some rather odd-looking cuts. (Visualize a T-bone steak with the T deleted and you'll have an idea of what I mean.) Of course, they taste every bit as good as their professional-looking counterparts — and, what's more, they take up less space in my cramped deep freeze.

12/14/2007 9:30:52 PM

no otherway to do gets no better Ive done this method for years.tried and true works excellant everytime.sounded like i could have written this myself

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