Humans have been eating and cooking grass-fed beef for centuries. The unique properties of grass-raised cattle is the omega 3-6 ratio is about 2:1, whereas the omega 3-6 ratio in grain-fed cattle is about 20:1; the omega 3s are what cause inflammation, the omega 6 are anti-inflammatory – there’s a huge difference here! The meat from grain-fed feedlot animals typically contains only 15 to 50 percent of the Omega 3′s of grass-fed livestock. This makes it easier to understand one reason why grain-raised beef is a rather unhealthy food for us to eat.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is the other unique property of grass-raised beef. CLA is produced in the cattle’s pH 7 stomach. CLA is a nutrient associated with lowered cancer risk, higher CLA levels assist humans eating grass-raised meats in burning fat and putting on more lean muscle mass. Two facts that have been very well documented.
Grain-raised cattle has a pH 4 stomach, which is quite acidic and doesn’t produce much CLA.
This means that even if you do chose leaner cuts of grain-fed beef you are still not getting any of the benefits of CLA, which may explain why many who do choose leaner cuts for health and weight loss find limited benefits.
No matter which way you look at it and analyze it, grass-raised beef out-shines grain-raised beef any day of the week.
Already we can see huge dietary differences in these two farming methods and the impacts to our health and wellness… and this does mean that we will want to cook our grass-raised beef in a different way, the ways humans cooked meat before grain-raised meats came into the picture.
The grass-raised beef fat is less and somewhat different and is healthy for us to eat. I think the largest difference I’ve found is that you really don’t want to grill, broil, roast, or cook your grass-raised beef fast as this causes the meat to become tough and dry.
Slow cooking, using a slightly lower temperature, is the way to go! This is why I also enjoy the Slow Food movement, it’s helping us to restore the way food once was handled. prepared and eaten.
If you don’t already have a source for grass-raised beef and other meats I highly recommend US Wellness Meats, they are a favorite of ours!
Grain-fed beef which contains considerably more fat is more forgiving of sloppy cooking and too high temperatures, whereas grass-fed beef needs a little extra attention and care; the same care people have taken in preparing food over the centuries.
How To Cook Grass-Raised Beef
Because grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed, it doesn’t have a lot of spare fat to keep it moist when cooked too long or at high temperatures. Cooking on a slightly lower temperature for a slightly longer period of time will assist in giving you more control over doneness. We handle our meats as if they are living foods deserving of our respect; we never sear, or use fast cooking methods.
Quite often we will cook thicker cuts of beef over temps not higher than 300 degrees F for 4-5 hours; this produces some of the BEST meals ever! The meat turns out super tender, well-done, and we never even need to use a knife as the meat breaks off with a fork!
Here’s one of our most favorite recipes: Braised Slow Cooked Beef in Red Wine, Onions & Carrots
Rule #1: Don’t overcook!
Grass-fed beef needs about 30 percent less cooking time than most common beef and is best if cooked medium-rare to medium. Keep an eye on the internal temperature using a meat thermometer; if the thermometer registers around 135°F, it means the meat is still rare. You want a temperature between 145°F and 155°F for medium-rare to medium. Anything above that is too much, and your steak will lose its moisture and tenderness.
If you must have your beef cooked well-done when using grass-fed beef you may want to opt for a cooking method that utilizes a lot of moisture to keep the meat tender (see Cooking Methods: Moist Heat below).
Rule #2: Never Microwave Grass-raised Meats
Rule #3: Do Not Cook Frozen or Partially Frozen Grass-raised Meats
Thaw the meat in the refrigerator or under cold running water, but don’t de-frost it in a microwave oven. We prefer to also let our meat sit on the counter so it becomes almost room temp before cooking; the length of time varies as it depends on how warm your room is, so use your own judgement and touch meat to see if it’s warmed up some.
Rule #4: Use Tongs, Not a Fork to Flip Your Meat
Always turn your grass-raised meat over with tongs, rather than a fork when cooking. Delicious and precious juices will be lost if you poke holes in the meat during cooking!
Rule #5: Let Meat Rest After Cooking
As a rule, always let any type of meat rest for 8 to 10 minutes after taking it off of the heat. This helps to redistribute the juices back inside the meat before serving.
Don’t cut into the meat right away if you’re serving it in slices or pieces; because the juices will immediately spill out, resulting in a drier texture.
Tip: Grass-raised beef hamburgers are generally 80% to 90% lean, so be mindful to not over-cook your beef patties!
There are two main ways of cooking meat: dry heat and moist heat methods.
Dry heat cooking methods include sautéing, grilling, and roasting. Grass-fed beef can be cooked with any kind of dry heat method as long as you are extra careful not to overcook it.
When cooking grass-fed beef with dry-heat methods, make sure to always sear the beef over high heat, then continue cooking it at a lower temperature either in a pan, on the grill or in the oven, depending on the method you’re using and the recipe.
Moist heat cooking methods include braising, stewing, and poaching. While you’re not likely to poach a piece of beef, braising and stewing are wonderful ways of slow-cooking meat in a lot of juices, including stocks and wine, making it exquisitely tender and full of flavor. Ever wondered why people refer to “meat that falls off the bone”? Try braising and you’ll experience it first hand. Any kind of grass-fed beef can be easily braised or stewed without any risk of moisture loss and dried out meat.
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"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller