Pasture-raised meat and particularly grass-fed beef offer terrific gastronomic opportunities, but realizing the potential of the meat does require more care than cooking conventional meat.
Tips for cooking grass-fed beef
- Grass-fed beef cooks much faster than conventional meat. Use an instant-read digital thermometer to check your meat's progress towards the temperature of your choice. Grass-fed beef can easily get overcooked, if you're not watching temperatures.
- Grass-fed beef is leaner than conventional beef. Lean cuts often benefit from serving with fattier sauces -- even if they're tender (case in point: the consummately lean-and-tender Filet).
- Pasture-raised animals grow strong, and their hard-working muscles develop strong fibers and collagen-rich connective tissue. This can lead to toughness in the meat if it's not prepared carefully. Mitigate toughness and maximize healthy and unctuous collagen by:
- Using a low-and-slow cooking method to allow collagen to break down and melt into meat, and minimizing lean cuts' exposure to high heat
- To serve, cut against the grain of the meat (this severs the tight muscle fibers)
- You may also consider tenderizing -- marinades, and/or physical tenderizing -- but in our experience #1 and #2 are more important and you may be able to skip tenderizing
- For steaks, consider the reverse sear. It's a proven technique to make sure you achieve the sear you desire, without creating an imbalance between surface and interior temperature that can lead to over-cooking.
- Check out the table on our Roasts recipe page for preferred cooking methods for each roast cut, but with roasts always choose a patient method in which high-heat exposure is minimized, even when you will finish with a sear.
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