Has anyone every come across a grass-fed/finished farm that sells very tender meat? I've ordered quarter cows from a few farms now, and while I've enjoyed a lot of the meat, I find that the steaks and briskets tend to be tough. Part of the issue seems to be lower fat content - most grass-fed farms that I've come across use this as a selling point, which makes sense if you are marketing to the average Joe. I, on the other hand, want fat! I believe that farmers have some control over the composition of their animals, so I'm looking for a farm that tries to properly fatten their cows (without grains of course) before slaughter.
In case it matters, I live in California, and I am aware of the fact that grass-fed beef needs to be cooked differently/more carefully.
Any tips are much appreciated!
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Look online for grassfed Wagyu (the Kobe beef breed.) They're naturally very marbled. It's mighty pricey, though. :-) If it were me (and it is) I'd just get the best grassfed locally I can get and smother everything in grassfed ghee for extra fat.
One thing to watch is that grass fed beef will cook in about 65-75% of the time it takes grain fed, even when the grass fed is well-finished (good fat, grading choice). People often overcook, even when they are being careful. A meat thermometer is a great investment.
Grass-fed beef does not have to be tough. It takes some time to get the finishing right on grass. Our beef (no grain ever) has gone head to head (steak to steak?) with grain fed beef and beat it for tenderness and taste. Grass fed beef should be the best beef you have ever had. We can ship it direct to your door from our ranch in Idaho, and if you order more than $175, shipping is free to California. Alderspring Ranch Grassfed Organic Beef
Aging meat makes it more tender and it's possible that the grower you got it from wasn't aging it long enough. I remember a grower I checked out years ago who was selling sides animals and was not aging it much, in central California. As far as not much fat on grass fed meat goes I buy meat and pounds of fat at a time from Marin Sun Farms and they are all grass. They never seem to have a shortage of fat when I want to order some.
I order from www.vermontgrassfedbeef.com; their steaks and roasts don't have much fat, but there's plenty on their oxtail and short ribs. Also their prices are pretty great!
100% Grass Fed Wagyu Beef - beyond Prime. Better Omega 3:6 ratios, higher fat soluble vitamin content.
Grass-fed beef is just a bit tougher and has more texture than grain-fed. But to me it has a lot more flavor. I don't think it necessarily has to do with the fat content, as this is true of the hangar, skirt, and ribeye that I get from grass-fed cows.
Grass-fed cows tend to be pastured, which means they walk around more, which means they use their muscles more, which is what makes them tougher and have more flavor. This is also what makes the meat more nutritious.
I think one of the motivations for grain-fed beef (besides cost) is that it makes the meat more tender, partly because you're able to feed the cows without them walking around (which is bizarre when you stop to think about it). However it is exactly this that makes the meat less nutritious, and with much less flavor.
In some places you can find "grass finished" or "grain finished" beef, which means the cows were raised on grain or grass, and were given grass or grain for a while before slaughter. This is supposed to provide some qualities of both grain and grass fed, i.e. tender meat that is grass fed. However, for me this also eliminates a large reason to eat grass-fed beef to begin with, which is to eat beef that is free-range and fully grass fed.
Many say that beef is "supposed" to be somewhat chewy and fully flavored, and I think this kind of beef is most nutritious. You might look at cooking techniques that make the beef more tender, such as tenderizing it with a mallet or other device. You can also braise or slow-roast many cuts until they are falling-apart tender. One of my favorite dishes is stuffed braised flank steak, which cuts with a fork. Generally meat is tenderest when cooked briefly at high heat (such as on the grill), or at low heat for a long time (braising).
dude: sous vide. problem solved.
Depends on the kind of beef it is to an extent. For example our cattle when I was growing up were grass fed and in winter were hay fed but supplemented with grain. Most years they were always very tender and delicious. Also well marbled...in spite of being mostly grass fed and never "feed lotted"... The ones that were best tasting, best marbled, and most fatty (hence the marbling) were the mixed red and black angus. White faced herford cattle were a little tougher, and a mix of them with angus led to decent quality beef with less fat.
I'm glad I'm a high fat eater. :)