Cooking Grass-finished Beef
April 8, 2023
Cooking your grass-finished beef is an important last step in 2+ year process of producing delicious, sustainably-sourced, locally-produced beef.
How does grass-finished differ from grain-finished beef when it comes to cooking?
Basically, grass-finished beef is generally leaner than the grain-fed stuff. The grains used to finish conventionally-raised animals are higher in energy content than a perennial poly-cultural pasture can be. Cattle can put away more fat deposits quicker on a grain diet than they can on a pasture diet. Grass-finished beef is often a bit leaner but with a wider bouquet of flavours due to the variety of diet that the animals experience.
So what's the secret to succulent, flavourful grass-finished beef?
In general, we want to be taking steps to maintain or increase the "juiciness" of the meat throughout the cooking process. There's lots of ways to do this but here is a couple basics that might help:
Reduce cooking time.
- The longer it cooks, the more the moisture evaporates from the meat and the drier and chewier it gets. Grass-fed beef is tenderest when it is cooked rare or medium rare. You can reduce the oven temperature by up to 50F and cook the cuts for shorter time periods. A meat thermometer can really help make sure the beef is removed from heat at the right time (we can remove meat from heat 10F below target temperature as it will continue to cook as it rests).
-Thawing meat beforehand in the fridge and letting the meat come to room temperature just before cooking will reduce cooking times which will help reduce moisture loss.
Retain and/or add moisture.
Grass-fed beef has juicy fats, just not as much as conventional beef.
-Using marinades that add moisture (like lemon juice, vinegar, beer, wine etc) can be helpful.
-We can use tongs instead of a fork to move the meat, to avoid poking holes in the meat and letting the juices come out.
-A strong sear on all sides of the beef before cooking at a lower temperature will lock the moisture in the cut.
-Letting the meat rest for 10 minutes after cooking can help the juices integrate into the flesh instead of running out on the plate when slicing the meat.
-Slow cooking in liquid is always an option if you prefer more well done beef.
Here are a few websites with a few more details and suggestions.