Grass fed beef cooking guide
Methods of cooking beef adapted to grass fed
Choose the right method for the appropriate cut
For the best results possible, be sure you're using the right cooking method for the cut of meat that you're cooking. It can be so disappointing to anticipate a wonderful grass fed beef meal and then have the meat turn out to be tough and chewy, pleasing no one.
The different cuts lend themselves to different forms of cooking, so we want to talk about how each cut is best cooked. It makes a huge difference in how your meals turn out.
We'll start with the most obvious method: Grilling. The fat in grass fed beef has a much different consistency than the fat in commercial, grain fed beef. It is much less watery (grain = bloating: In humans and in cattle).
Grill grass fed beef at lower heat
Because of that, grass fed steaks must be grilled at a lower temperature, more slowly than you would steaks from grain fed beef.
If you're of the grilling school that says you must quick - sear the outside of the steaks to seal in the juices (many people are, including my husband), you can still do this, but just don't sear at too high a temperature.
Don't grill any higher than slightly past medium
Set the grill to medium, and your steaks will be seared on the outside, without risking drying them out and toughening them up on the inside. You will still see the dark grill marks that make the presentation of a grilled steak so inviting.
Grilling at the lower temperature, however, you need to know that it will take a little bit longer to get the steaks to the desired doneness, but watch them closely, you don't want to overcook them.
Low and slow
Some people, like my French friend, Dominique, are of the slow-cook school of grilling and set the grill to medium low. The steaks don't sear, like they do with a higher temperature, and you must cook them longer, but you have a much better chance of maintaining the tenderness that way.
However, when all is said and done, the slow cooked steaks also have the grill marks, for great presentation, they just aren't seared.
Either way works for the higher end steaks
We find that either way works, but lower and slower ensures better tenderness and juiciness. However, some people, like myself, love the taste of charred fat, and the way to accomplish that is with the higher temperature (as I said though, not too high).
Some steaks are best marinated if they're grilled
The tougher cuts of steak will be better if they are marinated in some kind of acid based marinade. You can read more about marinating in our article: Marinating made simple. The best steaks for marinating include:
Good for tough steaks but suitable for even the best steaks
If you don't have a grill, take heart, you can still enjoy premium steaks, and sometimes I prefer my steaks pan-fried, rather than grilled.
With the tougher cuts of steak, I like to pan fry in olive oil, it helps keep the steak moist and seems to improve tenderness. With mechanically tenderized round steak, (Cube Steak) I often tenderize and flatten the steak further with a tenderizing hammer, then lightly flour, dip it in egg, and fry in olive oil, grape seed oil, or almond oil (chicken-fried steak). It's one of our very favorite meals.
If you have a vapor - lock type of cookware, such as Waterless Cookware ™ you can pan fry without using any oil or fat. Simply cook at medium heat on each side until the steak stops sticking, and it will be perfectly done on the inside. You can cook longer for increased doneness. Once again, when you're pan frying grass fed beef, be sure to use medium or lower heat.
Pan frying is the only way I know how to cook liver, (which I only do for other people as I don't like it). Plenty of onions and bacon in the frying pan can go a long way towards disguising the liver.
Make sure you're using the right cut
Dry roasting involves cooking at a higher temperature, with little or no liquid. The best cuts for dry roasting are the more tender cuts of roasts such as:
These roasts have enough marbling and or moisture to withstand the higher heat and no additional liquid.
Most of these cuts can be cooked between 325 degrees F and 350 degrees F in a covered or uncovered roasting pan, with the exception of the whole tenderloin, which is cooked at a much higher temperature for a very short time. Click here to see the recipe for cooking Whole Tenderloin*
*As our grass fed beef Whole Tenderloin is in such limited supply it is only available to members of Grass Fed and Healthy
With grass fed beef you will want to cook at the lower temperature, and if the roaster is covered and can help keep the meat moist.
The best way to cook the tougher cuts
Braising is simply cooking on low heat with added liquid for at least 4 - 6 hours, in a covered roasting pan. I also sometimes refer to it as slow cooked. If you cook low and slow enough, you can make any cut fall-off-the-bone, fork-tender. Braising works with everything from roasts, to ribs, to organ meats.
If you've purchased meat that is extremely tough or dry (or especially if you've hunted wild game but the meat is tough and you're stuck with a freezer full of it) you can also braise steaks that you would normally grill, and make them tender and delicious.
Whether you slow cook or dry cook a roast, in either case you may want to brown the outside first by placing it on the grill or on a pan for a few minutes on each side. With tougher cuts of roast you may even want to brown in a little olive oil or almond oil.
Braising, or slow-cooking, to me, is the most convenient way to cook. You can start something early in the morning, with very little prep time, and it's ready for dinner. Since you are cooking at such a low temperature, and since the roasting pan contains liquid, you don't have to check on it ever.
Create fabulous Au Jus
The other benefit of braising is you end up with a fabulous Au Jus, or stock that can be made into gravy, served as Au Jus, or saved as stock for later. For this reason alone, one of my favorite meals is a braised or slow-cooked chuck roast.
You can also get Au Jus from dry roasting, but you get less of it, and it is much more concentrated, whereas the Au Jus from braising tastes wonderful and goes a long way.
Crock Pot Cooking
Any time you cook in a crock pot, you are basically braising. We all know how easy it s to throw something in the crock pot in the morning and come home to a hearty, wholesome meal, whether it is a plain roast or stew.
The best cuts for braising
Some of the cuts that are best cooked by braising or slow cooking include:
You can also braise, or slow-cook some of the roasts listed under dry roasting, such as rump or round roasts.
Since hamburger is already ground up by the metal teeth, tenderness is not an issue, however, it is still a good idea to cook hamburgers, or ground beef dishes at a little lower temperature than you would with grain fed beef, just to prevent it from drying out.
You can use this guide to cook other meats such as lamb, poultry, bison, or wild game. A chicken or turkey can be either dry roasted, or slow cooked, but I prefer slow cooked. That way the meat, whether it is light or dark, stays moist and tender. Fish, however, is a whole other matter that I won't get into here.