RibSteak Fulfills his Destiny
It has been far too long a time since the last post and I feel guilty about not keeping things up. This entry was actually written some months ago but essential computer “upgrades” prevented me from applying the finishing touches. This summer is proving to be extremely busy for the crew at Miners Mix with lots of big events and trade shows, royally painful computer issues (thank you for that, Windows 10), and other goings-on, in addition to the usual obligations of 4H and husbandly maintenance duties around the house (read that as mowing, weed-eating, drip irrigation repair, building more cages to house yet more chickens, turkeys, rabbits, lizards and other critters, along with myriads of other chores). However, duty continues to call so I’ll try to add entries to the blog as time permits.
Once upon a time, our Miners Mix business partner acquired an Angus cow named Clover. She bred Clover to a Scottish Highland bull, a union that proved fruitful and resulted in the birth of a calf. The calf was steerified according to our business partner, and when we moved onto our 40 acre spread, Clover, the cow, and RibSteak, the calf, came to live on our ranch. Clover and RibSteak almost lived happily ever after, with pretty much the run of the entire acreage. They kept the grass mowed with only the occasional need to supplement with hay or alfalfa. Unfortunately for RibSteak, he was destined for the freezer from the moment he took his first breath and after about 2 years of contented grass munching, his time was nigh.
Now, Scottish Highland cattle are smallish and RibSteak was petite as well. Once Rib Steak matured though, he became downright dangerous and ornery. I was always very careful to insure that a fence was between him and me, or if chores required us to be together on the same side of said fence, I kept a wary eye on him. RibSteak was also very destructive, pushing down barbed wire fences and he actually seemed to enjoy knocking gates off of their hinges. He’d stand there and butt the gate; we’d sometimes hear him for hours on end at night banging on gates. There were a couple of times when he did escape after knocking a gate off the hinges and we’d find him out by the cars or somewhere else he wasn’t supposed to be. Fortunately he was easy to lure back into the enclosure by following Clover, who happily follows anything good to eat. On one of his forays of temporary freedom, RibSteak proved very destructive in a single evening remaking one of our turkey enclosures into a 25’ long pretzel and utterly destroying it. Getting him back into the pasture after that instance though, proved terrifying because like a Pamplona bull in the ring, he was pawing the ground and looked ready to charge at any moment. Charging would have proven most unfortunate, as there was no place for any of us to hide and we’d have been trampled. Fortunately, Clover was easily bribed by one of the kids with a flake of alfalfa and led through a gate, followed by Rib Steak in tow. In short, RibSteak was just not a nice, warm, huggable creature. He was instead, a well-muscled smallish, evil-tempered tank. He was, well, bullish.
When the future month for Rib Steak to fulfill his destiny had been more or less selected, we began to supplement his diet with lots more sweet-cob to promote fat and weight gain. RibSteak and Clover continued to have free reign of the 30+ acre pasture and ate anything they wanted, but as time wore on, they began to frequent the lower pasture where they could get scoops of wonderful, molasses-infused sweet-cob. As his time drew closer, RibSteak got more and more sweet-cob, eventually consuming well over 400 lbs. of the stuff. He never mellowed, instead he’d attempt to butt me through the fence or charge and stop just short of the fence; it would have meant a hospital or morgue visit to have gotten into the enclosure with him. Despite all that sweet-cob, RibSteak never seemed to get fat and his disposition never changed. He only became increasingly buffed.
Being a steer, it was puzzling why Rib Steak was so dang aggressive. Steers are supposed to be fairly passive, more like cows. Clover, RibSteak’s mother has always been gentle and really doesn’t care at all if people happen to be in the pasture with her.
As fate would have it, the ranch butcher made his appearance on the appointed day. A week or so before, I’d penned up Clover so she would not be able to witness RibSteak meeting his destiny. RibSteak was attached to his mom and having Clover penned also kept him in the lower pasture so things would be easier when the ranch butcher made his appearance.
The butcher was extremely proficient at what he did. RibSteak was happily chewing on some tasty alfalfa right at the fence when he was introduced to a .22 cal bullet. His end was instantaneous and very humane; he was stone dead before he hit the ground. There was no last breath, no last kick or any other movement at all after being shot. His end was far better than what commercial cattle experience. As a city boy, I have to say that the entire process of killing, skinning and ending up with two sides of beef hanging from the truck’s crane in about 45 min, all with very little blood or gore, was very impressive.
After beginning the skinning process, it soon became apparent why RibSteak had been so ill-tempered and incredibly muscular, with very little fat. There they were, two football-shaped testicles nestled inside, just under his skin. He had not been steerified after all, and was in fact, a full-on, but sac-less bull. My business partner had swung and missed, only taking Rib Steak’s sac, which probably made RibSteak even angrier towards humans.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Now I make a point of trying real hard not to eat stuff that I think should normally be thrown away or fed to dogs, and I’ve read the stories, told the jokes, and watched the cooking shows dealing with rocky mountain oysters. However, since I had a couple of them that happened to be VERY fresh, and was planning on doing chicken fried steaks the next evening anyway, I decided what the hay, let’s give it a whirl.
Never having cooked anything with the moniker of prairie oyster, calf fries, huevos del toros (which is literally “bulls’ eggs” in Spanish), cowboy caviar, Montana tendergroins, swinging beef, rocky mountain oysters, or any other euphemism for testicle, I had to do some online research to learn how. Basically all the recipes I found were very similar and all involved frying. There must be some recipes out there for grilling ‘em, but none were found and frankly, after eating these, I really doubt I’ll be cooking them again.
This is pretty much the process I used, from a food.com recipe:
- Split the tough skin-like muscle that surrounds each “oyster” (use a sharp knife). You can also remove the skin easily if the meat is frozen and then peeled while thawing. They are NOT kidding about the skin or membrane. Peeling proved very difficult perhaps because the two I had were fresh, but these things are TOUGH to peel!
- Soak in a pan of salt water one hour; drain.
- Transfer to a large pot and add enough water to float the meat.
- Add the vinegar to the pot.
- Parboil, drain and rinse.
- Let cool and slice each oyster into 1/4 inch thick ovals.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of sliced oyster to taste.
- Combine flour, cornmeal and some garlic powder to taste.
- Roll each slice into flour mixture.
- Dip into milk.
- Roll again into flour mixture. We seasoned the flour with a mixture of Miners Mix Steak and Veggie along with some XXX-Garlic
- Dip into wine. I did not do this, preferring instead to use copious amounts of wine in a far more therapeutic way.
- (repeat the procedure for a thicker crust).
- Fry in hot oil or fat seasoned with the bottled hot sauce to taste (be careful, it will sizzle when you add the hot sauce); fry until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
So, how’d they taste? Well, for starters, both my son and I agreed there was very little actual flavor, which, in hindsight was probably a good thing. I mean they’re balls! All we really tasted was the Miners Mix in the breading. What was most off-putting, however, was the texture. The slices, as well as the intact huevo, were not mushy or soft and tender, as I thought they’d be. Instead the chicken fried oyster had a texture similar to that of a very crisp hot dog. Sometimes gourmet hot dogs with a thick casing almost seem to “pop” when you bite them and the slices of oyster did just that. Overall it was very strange and a bit unsettling. FYI: No one else in the family nor any friends would even consider giving them a try.
All in all, growing up in a city and never having killed any food animal except fish (of which I’ve killed and eaten more than my share), no wistful thoughts of RibSteak and his demise exist within any of us. Being the nasty dangerous creature he was, it is good to be rid of him. Leaving the house in the morning and stumbling upon him as you make your way to the car could totally ruin your day and potentially put you in the hospital or far worse. Some animals would be personally difficult to introduce to the ranch butcher. For instance, most goats have fairly endearing personalities and I’d feel a little bad about processing one. Clover the cow would be difficult as well. Even turkeys are difficult for me, but RibSteak, like the meat chickens we also raise, failed to elicit any of those misgivings at all.
In part 2 of this epic, I’ll cover the return home of RibSteak, albeit in white, paper-wrapped packages, and the marvelous flavor of true grass-fed beef which is unlike anything I’ve ever bought in a store. I’ve eaten grass-fed beef, but the flavor is not close to what we have in our freezer.