Side of beef or similar large delivery order for Toronto?
February 8, 2015 12:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of buying a side of beef or a smaller unit, if necessary, with a couple of friends in Toronto. Locals: what source(s) would you recommend? Locals and everyone: what tips and tricks do you have for dealing with a large meat order?

First: WEST SIDE BEEF. I know of them, they sound great, but a) they don't do large volumes, b) the "surprise!" mixture of cuts in the package may not suit everyone and c) $7.50/pound may be a little high for everyone involved. I'm not ruling them out, but I am looking for a few more options.

- Delivery to home or a reasonable pick-up point in the Toronto area. (St. Catharines may do in a pinch).
- Butchered and frozen , ideally in cryovac.

- Grass fed or forage fed: I know cattle won't have pasture at this time of year, and that "forage" is an awfully flexible term. I would like to avoid miserable animals penned up in a feedlot eating corn corn corn all day if possible.

What I've found so far:

Beef Connections (sides as well as smaller boxes). Looks to be about $8/pound, delivery to pick-up point for boxes, and about $4.15/pound for a side or quarter, plus S&H.

Phoenix and Arnold sells for $4.50/pound, but delivery is free. They say that the order does includes soup bones and organs, which are fine with me.

Any further options or experiences with the ones I've listed are appreciated -- thanks!
posted by maudlin to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
And now that I've written this, I am leaning strongly toward Phoenix and Arnold based on their Our Cattle page -- on grass April-November, fed hay only in the winter, never confined. But I am still willing to hear suggestions.
posted by maudlin at 12:26 PM on February 8, 2015

Ask the butcher what cuts will be provided. If there are cuts your group will not use, ask to have that portion added to the ground meat. Steaks and roasts should be shared equally - no one should get all ground or stew meat. Measure to be sure every one has sufficient freezer space! You might inquire if your friends have dietary or religious restrictions. Some observant people do not eat certain parts of the animal.
posted by Cranberry at 1:07 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another option — though they seem to be out of season for beef — is the McQuail's Meeting Place Organic Farm near Lucknow.
posted by scruss at 1:19 PM on February 8, 2015

I'd be tempted to call or go in-person to Sanagan's in Kensington Market, and see what price they'd offer for a butchered side.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:34 PM on February 8, 2015

So -- hanging weight, boxed weight, yields, etc. According to this page and a couple of others I've found, a quoted price of $x/pound based on hanging weight may work out to a higher price after dry-aging. I've seen yields of 60%-70% quoted. Does that fit with your experience?
posted by maudlin at 2:01 PM on February 8, 2015

seconding talking with the people at Sanagan's - they're awesome
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:22 PM on February 8, 2015

Yeah, if you're buying the meat before it's dry-aged, you're going to lose a lot of what you're paying for. I wouldn't worry about that though, they're going to be quoting you the retail price/weight.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:39 PM on February 8, 2015

I've had good experiences with FieldSparrow Farms ordering a 1/2 cow to split with friends. Ground & stew were most useful.
posted by lizifer at 3:39 PM on February 8, 2015

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