Thursday, February 26, 2009

All you need is love...

and a good knife.

A few other things come in handy as well- like a scale, a knife sharpener, plastic "ziploc" freezer bags, and tape and markers for labeling. Whole meats tend to be cheaper per pound, and with the right equipment, it isn't hard to cut them down to portion size. The size of each depends, of course, on your dog. With Kip, to start at least, I'll be feeding twice a day, so each portion should be around 4 ounces.

This is what a chicken looks like, portioned in ~4 ounce pieces. I know from previous dissections that each drumstick and thigh will weigh between 3 and 4 ounces - so those are one portion each. Cut off the wings, cut off the back, cut the back into two, and each breast into two. Viola - one chicken is now 12 pieces. I have been buying whole chickens for years for myself, so this isn't new to me. But believe me when I tell you - with a little practice, it is very easy to portion a chicken. And, the bigger the dog, the easier it is - as you will need fewer cuts.

A poor picture, but this is 3 whole chickens, all bagged and ready for the freezer. I separate each portion into it's own small freezer bag, then group all the different types into a large freezer bag, labeled with the meat and type. So here, there are separate bags for backs, wings, breasts, thighs and drumsticks. This way, I can remove each portion individually to thaw in the fridge, and I don't have to hunt though the freezer to find the piece I want.

I cut up 3 chickens, one pork roast, one beef heart, and some liver and kidneys in one session. From start to finish, it took less than two hours, including clean-up, to prepare one month's worth of meals. Not a bad use of my time, in my opinion!

A note about food safety. We are dealing with raw meat here. I have worked with microorganisms for the last 15 years, and I tend to be a bit lax about them - but not to the point of stupidity. The one thing you don't see in these pictures - the sink full of hot soapy water with a cup of bleach added. This is used to wipe down everything - including the markers and knife sharpener. Everything washable gets washed in this water (as I don't have a dishwasher). And I do not use "antibacterial" dish washing detergent. EVERY soap and detergent is antibacterial, and the chemicals added to the ones marketed as "antibacterial" have the potential to increase bacterial resistance. This is something I will not be a part of. There are fantastic cleaners that will not add to bacterial resistance - bleach being the best (as well as being cheap and readily available). Vinegar is another. And good old soap, water and air work great too. So, be smart, and be safe.

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