Cooking With Grass-Fed Beef
Liz Pearson | August 28, 2010
Liz Pearson worked as the kitchen director for Saveur magazine before moving back
to her native Texas. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, she
consults regularly with Whole Foods Market as a writer, recipe developer and food
You may have heard rumors that grass-fed beef is not as tender as grain-fed, but here's the real story. Since it's lower in fat, grass-fed beef runs the risk of drying out or becoming overcooked much quicker than grain-fed beef. So the name of the game is to keep the meat moist, an easy task when you consider
the following tips:
*Sub in flavor. Replace the missing fat in grass-fed beef with something juicy and flavorful. When you use ground beef - say, for making hamburgers or meatloaf - combine it with an ingredient that will keep things moist. Chopped onions, shredded vegetables like carrots or zucchini, sundried tomatoes, olives, mustards or grated cheese all work wonders.
When it comes to steaks, consider marinating them for 4 to 6 hours before cooking to add a boost of flavor and moisture, too.
*Take things down a notch. Grass-fed beef cooks quicker than its grain-fed cousin, so lower the heat on the stove or grill (or about 50 F in the oven, if you're roasting) to better control the doneness. Otherwise, it can go from perfectly cooked to overdone in a matter of seconds.
Preheat, preheat, preheat. Be sure your cooking surface - whether it's a pan or grill - is preheated well before you start cooking. That way, you'll accomplish a tasty, even sear without overcooking the meat.
*A little oil goes a long way. Because there isn't much fat in grass-fed beef, be sure to grease your pan or grill with a bit of oil or cooking spray before cooking to ensure that nothing sticks.
*No poking! Save your knife and fork for eating, not cooking. For the juiciest results, resist the urge to poke or turn meat with a knife or fork. Each time you do, more of its moisture will end up in the pan, not on
*Think 70%. On average, grass-fed beef needs about 30% less time to cook than grain-fed beef, so go ahead and check for doneness a little
earlier than usual.
*Forget well done. Grass-fed beef can get dry, tough and toothsome when overcooked, so it's best to stick with medium-rare or medium steaks. Our advice? Remove beef from the heat around 140 F - or a little more or less, depending on your taste - and tent it loosely with foil to let it rest. While it sits, the temperature will rise another 5 to 10 degrees. (The pros call that "carryover cooking.") To check the temperature, insert a meat
thermometer into the thickest part of the steak, away from any bones.
Our Executive Chefs are always available to answer any questions! Email us anytime for more tips or new recipe ideas!
When cooking a grassfed steak, you'll want sear it and then allow it to finish cooking at 325F. This allows the naturally-occurring sugars to caramelize on the surface, while keeping the muscle fibers from contracting too quickly. Tough grass-fed steaks result from over-exposure to high heat, which causes the muscle fibers to contract tightly and become chewy and dry.
The biggest mistake people make when cooking grass-fed beef is over-cooking it.
These five tips will ensure a perfectly cooked steak every time.
1. Lower the cooking temperature. Because grass-fed beef is leaner than its grain-fed counterpart, you need to cook it at a slightly lower temperature (at least 50 F) for 30-50% less time. Otherwise, you cook off the fat and are left with a dry, tough, unappealing mass of meat that’s lost many of its nutrients. (The more cooked your grass-fed beef, the more Omega 3s you lose.)
2. Invest in a meat thermomenter. You may know how to eyeball when conventional meat is done, but because grass-fed beef is leaner, you don’t have the same kind of wiggle room for mistakes. A meat thermometer will ensure you cook your meat just the way you like it — every time. The desired internal temperatures for grass-fed beef are:
IMPORTANT NOTE! To achieve the desired temperature, remove the meat from heat when it’s about 10 degrees lower than your goal temperature. The residual heat will finish cooking the meat over the next ten minutes as you let it rest.
3. Start steaks at room temperature. This is a good rule for all meats, but especially for grass-fed-beef. By starting your meat at room temperature, it will take less time to reach the ideal internal temperature while cooking. This gentler cooking method will help your meat stay juicy and delicious.
4. Don’t play with your meat. Avoid the temptation to poke steaks or roasts with forks or pat burgers down with spatulas. This lets all that delicious fat escape, giving you a less juicy end result.
5. Give your meat a rest. When you’re done cooking your meat, let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing into it. This allows time for the escaped juices to reincorporate back into the meat.
GRASS-FED RIB-EYE STEAKS WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE (Epicurious)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
3 garlic cloves, pressed
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Simmer vinegar in small pan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Add shallots, 1/4 cup oil, and crushed red pepper; return to simmer. Remove from heat; whisk in parsley, capers, and thyme. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Rub both sides of steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Prepare grill (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness. Transfer steaks to plates. Spoon vinaigrette over.