GRASS FED BEEF
I have to admit, we’re not big big beef eaters here. Sometimes however there’s nothing like a good steak to please the palate and leave you satisfied. On a tip from one of my co-workers who discovered a local farm right around the corner that sold 100% grass fed beef, I decided to give it a shot. Anyhow, as this was my first shot at cooking grass fed beef I procured it from the local farmer instead of the local chain store butcher.
The farm we went to visit was reminiscent of 28 years ago when we moved into a subdivision plopped down in the middle of surrounding farm land. The years have eroded most of the farms in this area so it was a surprise finding one still in operation. I should have snapped some photo’s but I was concentrating on the meat at hand. ( You can visit them here ). I have to say the staff were very personable, and we got there before the rush.
I picked two different steaks that I particularly like for this cooking exercise. A couple of strips and a couple of Delmonicos (rib eyes). The only thing that gave me pause was the fact that these were vacuum packed frozen solid pieces of beef so I had to do some thinking about the cooking. As a matter of fact the very nice lady that helped us asked if we had ever cooked grass fed beef before. I had to admit I hadn’t, but they were getting tossed into a cast iron skillet with sides of roasted red potatoes and Cowboy cabbage. She promptly invited herself and a co-worker to dinner. I would have invited them but I don’t do human experiments with something I haven’t tried before.
On to the next step. Defrosting. For a good pan seared steak, I like the meat at room temp with enough salt to make them look like they got trapped in a snow storm. So after they came to room temp, I gave a good shot of kosher salt and just let them sit while I did the side dishes. My first impressions were that these were a bit stronger both in color and smell than the usual steaks I get. And the marbling wasn’t quite up to what I’d normally expect from a good piece of grain fed, but since this was my first shot at grass fed beef, I didn’t want to approach it with any preconceived notions. So the cooking technique was done on a head to head basis.
I like a good well crusted medium to medium rare on my steaks. These were done in a Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Skillet with about 2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil preheated on medium high for about 20 minutes. The crust on the grass fed beef didn’t develop quite as well as I would have liked but for their size I went with 3 minutes to a side with a finish in a 350 oven for a 5 more minutes. Normally for a 3/4 to 1 inch steak it’s 4-4-5 for a medium to medium rare with the time in the oven determining the doneness. These were a little thinner so I adjusted the searing time accordingly.
After committing to a 350 oven for about 5 minutes the meat was allowed to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. As you can see, the Delmonico’s being thinner are a done more than the strips. The it was sliced across the grain into thin strips for serving with the dinner I had planned. I had 2 lbs. to work with and 3 to feed per meal so it worked out to about 4 to 5 oz. per person for both meals.
ON TO DINNER WITH THE GRASS FED BEEF
The first dinner just let the beef stand by itself. Just salt and pepper with sides of cowboy cabbage and roasted red potatoes. The strips might be a bit too rare for some people but for as lean as the cuts were, they were reasonably tender and easy to cut. I have to say though, they weren’t melt in the mouth style that a really well marbled grain fed steak can be. But as an alternative this turned out really well.
The second dinner involved using the beef cold with a bed of lettuce and a Tomato, Cucumber, and onion relish I concocted. Some people aren’t particularly fond of cold meats, but I think an overnight in the refrigerator adds a bit to the flavor and texture of the meat. The relish was a simple mix of refreshing with some oil, white and red wine vinegar, and spices. For a bit of a kick, I added some spicy cajun remoulade which worked great with the cold meat.
To sum up my first shot at Grass Fed Beef, I’d have to say it’s a bit different than what I’m used to. Just as a note this was 100% grass fed beef and not certified “Organic” grass fed beef and as such it was not marbled well and decidedly leaner. Without getting into the differences between Grass Fed and Organic ( a short reference is available here. ) I have to say the steaks turnd out very well hot or cold. Besides the touted health benefits, I have to give a nod to the texture and flavor. It was beef, and very good beef at that. If you’re a beef lover who likes to eat happy cows, and you have a local farm it’s definitely worth a look. Give the Grass Fed Beef try but be prepared for some cooking differences and higher price.