100% Grass-fed meat is from cows that are pasture-raised on grass, from start to finish. They are rich in good fats, and managed sustainably. Compared to conventionally raised meats, which get little or no exercise, it's leaner and there is true muscle integrity in the meat. But leaner doesn't mean tougher. Cooked more gently, grass-fed meat is juicy and tender.
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:
Rare — 120F
Medium Rare — 125F
Medium — 130F
Medium Well — 135F
Well — 140F
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)
INGREDIENTS1/2 cup balsamic vinegar1/2 cup minced shallots1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley2 tablespoons drained capers2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks3 garlic cloves, pressed4 teaspoons smoked paprika2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
PREPARATION 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.
The Organic Butcher of McLean has a wide range of 100% grass-fed meats, order online or come in and see us. If you prefer more marbled meats, we also carry humane, antibiotic-free, pasture-raised beef (with access to grain).