Grass fed beef is full of flavor and extremely tender if cooked right. However, the first time you try it, you might be disappointed. The reason is, like most people, you will get caught up in the excitement and rush home to cook this marvelous piece of beef as if it were the same as conventional grain fed beef. You probably will not account for the leanness of the meat and over cook it. Believe us when we say "guilty as charged".
The first time we bought an expensive piece of all natural, grass fed beef, we were filled with excitement. It was a bone-in ribeye and a thing of beauty. We heated up the grill on high just like we always did with our grocery store bought steaks and threw our ribeye on the grill. Not only did the meat taste different (which we now love and prefer), it was tough, chewy and anything but tender. Talk about disappointment!
Since grass fed beef is high in protein and extremely low in fat, it will usually cook in 30%-50% less time. Additionally, over cooking it will cause this healthful meat to lose many of the beneficial nutrients (the more cooked, the more Omega 3s and CLAs you lose.)
We don't want you to make the same mistake, so we've put together the following grass fed beef cooking tips.
Grass Fed Beef Cooking Tips
1. Lower the cooking temperature. If your grill, oven or stove top is too hot, you will cook off the beneficial fat and dry this beef out quickly. Low and slow is the way to go with this beef. A general rule of thumb is cut the temperature down by at least 50 degrees. For roasts, cook at 225 degrees or in a crock pot. For steaks, you can sear on medium, but then quickly move to low heat to slowly finish the cooking process. Unlike grain fed beef which requires a higher searing temperature, grass fed beef will sear on medium.
2. Invest in a meat thermometer. Most people can cook a conventional grain fed steak perfectly just by eyeballing it. But with grass fed beef, there's less wiggle room because grass fed beef cooks quickly and can go from perfectly cooked to overcooked in less than a minute. Remove it from the heat source when it is 10 degrees below your desired cooking temperature. Don't worry, it will continue to cook once it's taken off the grill.
The suggested internal cooking temperatures for grass fed beef are 120 - 140o Fahrenheit (which is lower than the USDAs guidelines for beef which is 145 - 175o). Here's how the grass feed beef cooking guidelines break down:
- Rare — 120F
- Medium Rare — 125F
- Medium — 130F
- Medium Well — 135F
- Well — 140F
note: These suggested cooking temperatures come from The Grass Fed Gourmet cookbook by Shannon Hayes. Per Shannon the same concept applies to all pasture raised meats. Here's her cooking chart for all pastured meats.
|Meat||Grass Fed Suggested||USDA Recommends|
|Beef & Bison||120 - 140o||145 - 175o|
|Veal||125 - 155o||145 - 175o|
|Lamb & Goat||120 - 145o||145 - 175o|
|Pork||145 - 160o||160 - 170o|
|Chicken & Turkey||165o||165o|
3. Let it rest on the counter top for 10 minutes. While your meat was cooking, all the water molecules were heated up and excited. Resting it allows the juices to redistribute. Cutting into it too soon will allow all the moisture to drain out. The result? More moisture on the plate than in your mouth.
4. Start with steaks and roasts that are at room temperature before cooking. Thaw your meat in the refrigerator, or if you are in a hurry, in an air tight bag submerged in cool water. But never thaw it in the microwave. Once it is thawed, allow it to come to room temperature covered on the counter top before cooking. This prevents the meat from being shocked when you put it on the hot surface.
5. Tenderize. One great way to tenderize grass-fed beef is to use a tenderizing marinade. We got this tip from Stanley Fishman's Tender Grass Fed Meat, Traditional Ways To Cook Healthy Meat cookbook. This basic marinade involves rubbing beef with 2 or more tablespoons of Organic, Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive oil. The unfiltered oil contains enzymes that help tenderize the beef and enhance the flavor. Let the oil soak into the meat for two hours at room temperature (overnight if in the fridge). For some of the tougher cuts of beef, try a more physical approach. Cover the beef with plastic and pound your steak a few times to break down the connective tissue. But no need to pulverize it! A few whacks should do the trick.
Follow these tips and you will experience an extremely tender, flavorful and healthful piece of meat.
Interested in learning more about nutrition and cooking? Try one of our recommended books.
Tender GrassFed Meat
Stanley Fishman's Tender Grass Fed Meat, Traditional Ways To Cook Healthy Meat shows you how to prepare grassfed meat so it comes out tender and delicious every time. Beef, bison, and lamb are at their healthy best when they have been fed only the food they were designed to eat - grass. This is the meat that humankind has thrived on for thousands of years. Now, people are rediscovering the health benefits and wonderful taste of these traditional meats. Tender Grassfed Meat adapts traditional ways of cooking grassfed meat for modern kitchens. The results have to be tasted to be believed.
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon is a full-spectrum nutritional cookbook with a startling message--animal fats and cholesterol are vital factors in the human diet. These fats are necessary for reproduction and normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.
The book includes information on how to prepare grains, health benefits of bone broths and enzyme-rich lacto-fermented foods. Sally Fallon writes in a way that is both educational and easy to understand. By the time you are done with this book, you will thoroughly understand the following key points:
- Your body needs old-fashioned animal fats.
- New-fangled polyunsaturated oils can be bad for you.
- Modern whole grain products can cause health problems.
- Traditional sauces promote digestion and assimilation
- Modern food processing denatures our foods but Ancient preservation methods actually increase nutrients in fruits, nuts vegetables, meats and milk products!
The Grassfed Gourmet
The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook: Healthy Cooking & Good Living with Pasture Raised Foods by Shannon Hayes Explores the culinary, health, environmental, and animal-and human-welfare benefits of pasture-based farming. In the emerald-green fields of America’s finest pasture-based farms, cattle, pigs, bison, goats, sheep, and poultry roam free, eating what nature intended them to eat.
In THE GRASSFED GOURMET COOKBOOK, Cornell professor of sustainable agriculture and community development Shannon Hayes presents 125 recipes spotlighting the unique flavors and distinct characteristics of foods that come from animals raised on pasture. Discover how meat and dairy products are meant to taste through mouthwatering recipes for a wide range of pasture-raised meats and dairy products, including beef, bison, venison, veal, lamb, goat, pork, poultry, rabbits, and cheese. Hayes also discusses the nutritional, environmental, social, and animal-welfare benefits of pasture-based farming as well as simple strategies for finding and preparing grassfed and pasture-raised foods.