Grass Fed is a Different Animal.
The number one rule to cooking grass-fed steak is be gentle.
A lot of people get turned off by their first taste of grass-fed steak. That’s because its so easy to overcook, which gives it a gamey flavor.
But worse, heat destroys nutrients and can even cause reactions between otherwise healthy components of food, fusing them together and generating carcinogens. This is one reason we say chefs are the original nutritionists because typically they also say that cooking a steak past medium ruins its flavor. It also ruins the nutrients.
Grass versus Grain
Why would you need different instructions for steaks from animals fed grain and grass? Because grain fed animals gain weight so fast that some of the fat ends up within the muscle tissue. This produces the nice marbling effect and makes the meat easier to cook because the fat acts as an insulator and keeps moisture in so you can cook it longer without drying it out. If you’ve only cooked grain fed in the past, you need to adjust your technique to avoid over cooking your pasture-raised meat.
Finishing Touch: Grass FINISHED versus Grass FED
Grass finished is better all around (for you and for the animals) than grass-fed.
Why? Grass-fed just means the calf got grass at some point but was probably ‘finished’ on grain for between 90 and 180 days. With every day spent off grass and on grain instead, the omega-3 levels drop, as do many other valuable nutrients. If what you’ve got is grass fed rather than grass finished, find out how long it was on grain. More than 90 days and you may have to cook a little longer to account for the additional intramuscular fat. (See ribeye series, below and note increased whiteness from fat, aka “marbling” within the muscle.) Just as with grain fed, since fat is an insulator, the extra intramuscular makes the timing less critical but increases the need for heat.
Okay, here’s how to cook grass-fed steak:
Marinate the steak for at least a couple hours in worcestershire sauce. Let it warm up on the counter a half hour or so before grilling. Then, while the grill is heating up, season (salt, pepper) and brush with bacon fat. Or use peanut, avocado or olive oil. Steam-clean the heated grill by swiping with a big ball of soaking-wet paper towels. Sear the steak for a minute on each side, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for another three to five minutes on each side to the point that, when you touch the steak with a finger, it’s noticeably firmer than when raw. Then plate it and let it rest—don’t cut it open!—for a five full minutes so that it can reabsorb the juices. Then you can slice open the edge to check for the just-right reddish pink color. Serve with demiglace and a sprig of flat (or curly) parsley.
*Marinate steak for two hours
*Don’t cook steak straight from the fridge (the marinade prevents/slows bacterial growth)
*Season steak and brush with bacon fat or suitable oil
*Use a clean grill
*Sear with a hot flame on both sides, then turn the heat down
*Learn to judge doneness by touch
*Let the steak rest!
*Serve with demiglace and a sprig of parsley
If you have grass-finished steak available (and can afford it) it makes sense to learn how to protect these wonderful cuts of meat so that you may “honor the ingredients.”