grassfed steaks!

February 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm Leave a comment

Last week’s meat share members were the lucky recipients of grassfed steaks and ground beef from a local farm.  In the next few days you’ll be able to access Farm Truck’s “Grassfed Meat Primer” complete with cooking suggestions, nutrition information and FAQs, but the fact is that steaks deserve special attention.  Why?  Because grassfed steak in particular is probably one of the most delicious cuts of meat and also the one that’s the easiest to screw up.  You’ve probably heard that grassfed beef is delicious and better for you.  You’ve probably also heard that it’s tough.  We won’t lie to you – grassfed beef, and especially grassfed steak, has to be handled differently than the beef you find in the supermarket.  If you try to cook it the same way, you may very well end up with a steak with the texture of shoe leather.  The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

We’re not going to get into nutritional and environmental benefits here – that’s a discussion we delve into in the Grassfed Meat Primer.   What we want to do today is help you understand how to cook a kick-ass grassfed steak.

So, why is grassfed meat different?  We’ll try to keep it simple.  Cows that are “grassfed” eat only grass, hay and sometimes baleage (slightly fermented hay with a higher moisture content).  Cows’ stomachs are designed to process the stuff.  Most of the beef you find in the grocery store is from cows that are finished in feedlots and fed grain (primarily corn) which their stomachs are not designed to digest properly.  Grassfed cows have done a lot more walking around to eat all that grass.  Cows in a feedlot have mostly stood still.  You can put two and two together here: grassfed cows have led an active lifestyle and as a result have better developed muscles; feedlot cows are pudgy and their under-worked muscles are flaccid.  If you think of it in these terms, it makes sense that you’d need to cook the steaks differently.

Choosing grassfed meat does not mean you need to sacrifice tenderness, only that you need to pay attention, understand the differences and cook accordingly.  You can abuse a grainfed beef steak and still end up with something tender (and we think less flavorful).  You can not do this to a grassfed steak.

When it comes to grassfed meat, the expert is Shannon Hayes.  She has a farm in upstate New York where she raises cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys, all on pasture, and she has written two books on the subject: The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook and The Farmer & The Grill (on grilling grassfed meats).   There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when someone else has perfected it and Shannon has published two excellent essays on her website on how to cook grassfed steaks properly:

Tender Grassfed Steak, Inside & Out  and Top 5 Grassfed Steak Mistakes

So give them a read and get cooking. We’re all in this together – we’ve cooked up some miserably tough steaks in our time and we want to help you avoid the same mistakes.  Let us know how it goes!


Entry filed under: Featured Products, pastured meats.

In the Kitchen: Shallots free range farm truck at PechaKucha!

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