As grass-fed beef has become more available, we’ve been eating more of it. I never thought, however, that I might need to cook it differently than the grain-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-filled, factory farmed meat I’ve been cooking for decades. Then I came across a superb guide to cooking grass-fed meats on Mother Earth News. Here is what I learned…
Why Grass-Fed Beef Cooks Differently
True grass-fed beef comes from cows that eat what they were designed by nature to eat. They get plenty of exercise, fresh air, and sunlight. The animals tend to be healthier because they live this way, so they don’t have the need for antibiotics and other drugs. They usually have plenty of room to roam as opposed to being confined in small lots in close company with other animals. And they’re given time to grow naturally, without hormones. (Beware of misleading labels. Do your due diligence to find 100% grass-fed, humanely-raised meat.)
Beef from grass-fed cows tastes different than the meat you’re likely used to. I find it sometimes tastes “grassy” in a really lovely way. It’s also leaner with less marbling, which means it tends to lose its juices and toughen up more quickly than other kinds of beef. Deborah Krasner, author of the book “Good Meat: The Complete Guide To Sourcing And Cooking Sustainable Meat” — and the Mother Earth News article I stumbled upon — helped me understand how this should change the way you cook grass-fed beef for ultimate deliciousness.
How To Cook Grass-Fed Beef
Ms. Krasner did a lot of research about grass-fed meat and how to cook it. She has some helpful tips for cooking grass-fed beef awesomely:
- Rely on a thermometer, not timing, when roasting to avoid overcooking the meat.
- Avoid salt-based marinades, including those made with significant amounts of soy sauce. Instead, use oil-based or herbal marinades or rubs.
- Cook stews and braises at extremely low temperatures to break down — not toughen — the meat.
- Serve grass-fed beef rare or medium-rare to avoid toughness.
- Allow the meat to rest 15 minutes before carving or slicing to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the beef.
I’ll think more about these hints the next time I cook grass-fed beef. How about you?
Image Credit: Beef Graphic via Shutterstock