Cooking Tips for Grass-fed Meats
Thaw to room
temperature without a microwave
Never use a microwave to thaw
ANY of your grass-fed meats. This
process can change the texture and flavor, and cause tough spots,
reducing tenderness. Thaw your beef or lamb in the refrigerator for
12-24 hours or, for quick thawing, place your vacuum-sealed package
in water for a few minutes. Then bring your grass-fed meat to room
temperature before cooking. You can season the meat and let it sit
at room temperature for a couple of hours before cooking. Do not cook it cold, straight from a
refrigerator. Don't cook frozen or partially frozen beef or lamb; it makes
the meat dry and tough.
Poultry is the exception: it should be kept below 40 degrees
until cooking time.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT
Poultry should be kept below
40 degrees until cooking time. If frozen, thaw in the fridge,
remove from plastic bag, rinse thoroughly inside and out, pat dry,
season and cook.
If you like to marinate your
meat, choose a recipe that doesn't mask the delicate flavor of grass-fed
enhances the moisture content. A favorite marinade using lemon,
vinegar, wine, beer or bourbon is a great choice. Some people use
their favorite Italian salad dressing. If you choose to use bourbon,
beer or vinegar, use slightly less than you would for grain-fed
meats. Grass-fed meats cooks more quickly, so the liquor or vinegar
won't have as much time to cook off. For safe handling, always
marinate in the refrigerator.
Herb rubs are a great way to season grass-fed meats. After
thawing the meat, sprinkle each side of the steak or roast, rub in
the seasoning, and let stand at room temperature for an hour or two
before cooking. For several simple and tasty rub recipes, refer
Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells & Denis Kelly.
Always pre-heat your oven, pan, or grill before cooking
Do not overcook
Your biggest culprit for tough grass-fed meat is
overcooking. This meat is made for rare to medium-rare cooking.
Grass-fed meats have a different texture and taste at medium. If you
usually like your meat well done, try cooking to medium. If you must
have your meat well-done, then cook it at a very low
temperature in a sauce to add moisture.
Grass-fed meats have
high protein and low fat levels. The meat will usually require 30%
less cooking time and will continue to cook when removed from heat.
For this reason, remove the meat from heat 10 degrees before it
reaches the desired temperature. Watch the thermometer carefully.
Grass-fed meats cooks quickly; your meat can go from perfectly cooked
to over-cooked in less than a minute.
Never use a fork to turn your meats; precious juices will
be lost. Always use tongs.
When grilling, sear the meat quickly over high heat on
each side to seal in its natural juices. Then reduce the heat to
medium or low to finish the cooking process. Baste to add moisture
throughout the grilling process. Grass-fed beef requires 30% less
cooking time, so watch your thermometer and don't leave your steaks
When preparing hamburgers on the grill, use caramelized
onions, olives or roasted peppers to add low-fat moisture to the
meat while cooking. Some moisture is needed to compensate for the
lack of fat. Make sure you do not overcook your burgers. 30% less
cooking time is required.
Stove-top cooking is great for any type of steak,
including grass-fed. You have more control over the temperature than
on the grill. Since grass-fed meat is low in fat, coat
with virgin olive oil, truffle oil, or favorite light oil for flavor
enhancement and easy browning. The oil will also prevent drying and
sticking. You can use butter in the final minutes, when the heat is
low, to carry the taste of fresh garlic through the meat, just as
steak chefs do.
Roasting in the
oven or crock pot
When roasting, sear the meat first to lock in the juices
and then place in a pre-heated oven. Reduce the temperature of your
grain-fed meat recipes by 50 degrees, i.e., 275 F for roasting, or
at the lowest heat setting in a crock pot. The cooking time will
still be the same or slightly shorter, even at the lower
temperature. Again, watch your thermometer and don't overcook your
meat. Use moisture from sauces to add to the tenderness when cooking
removing from heat
Let meat sit covered in a warm place for 8-10 minutes
after removing from heat to let the juices redistribute. Tent with
foil while the meat rests.
Save your leftovers. Grass-fed beef or lamb slices make
great, healthy luncheon meats with no additives or preservatives.