One of my most recent freelance assignments for Fine Cooking Magazine was to test Australian grass fed beef.
Fine Cooking provided the guidelines based on previously tested and approved recipes from their well-respected archives using the typical grain-fed beef, which is easily found in any supermarket across the country. The purpose of the test was to compare the two types of beef and adjust the recipes as necessary in order to ensure a successful outcome.
A week or so after accepting the assignment, about 27 pounds of beautiful grass-fed beef arrived on my doorstep. It was a good thing that I had planned for this in advance and had the wherewithal to clean out my freezer several days before (thank goodness for that second refrigerator and freezer in the basement).
The ten recipes I tested were as follows:
- Pan-Seared Steak with Caper-Anchovy Butter
- Grilled Flank Steak with Sesame Sauce & Grilled Scallions
- Thai Steak Salad
- Beef Tenderloin with Cornichon-Caper Herb Sauce
- Margarita-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak with Tomatillo Salsa
- Grilled Korean Skirt Steak
- Grilled Steak Tacos with Spicy Slaw
- Honey-Chipotle Glazed Flank Steak
- Mini Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Relish
- Caramelized Onion Cheeseburgers
Can you match each recipe to the images in the mosaic below? Hint: some recipes have more than one image…
Needless to say, the recipes were all delicious, but the cooking time and method definitely needed to be adjusted to accommodate this leaner cut of beef. Overall, a shorter cooking time, higher heat, with additional fat on occasion, does well by this type of beef.
Although grass-fed is really all the rage right now, some people don’t enjoy this type meat as much because of its lower fat content. For the most part, the beautiful marbling, or intra muscular fat that we’re so used to seeing and making our buying decisions around doesn’t really exist. Actually, at the end of the day, I believe that grass or grain-fed is a personal decision. I found the grass-fed meat to be a bit denser, yet quite flavorful with the minor recipe adjustments I mentioned above.
During my research in preparation for the testing, I found a great blog about the differences between grain and grass-fed beef on a butcher’s website that offers a clear and thorough explanation:
Give grass-fed beef a try and make your own decision. It’s a worthy culinary experience and will give you a great point of reference the next time this topic comes up at a summer barbeque.
Until next time,