Grass Fed Meat Cooking Information & Recipes
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The single biggest error most people commit when cooking meat, especially the grass-fed meats, is overcooking. Commercial meats, especially pork and turkey are injected with salt water solutions. This adds to the weight, so a greater profit is made, but it also lengthens cooking time, and causes the meats to shrink noticeably. You will not find this to be the case with the grass-fed meats.
They are going to cook much faster than what you are used to, especially the turkey. A rule of thumb is to expect the meat to cook in 1/3-1/2 less time than conventional meats.
The easiest way to prevent overcooking is to use a good cooking thermometer-not a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer is not terrible accurate, and it is left in the meat while it cooks. A chef’s thermometer has a small dial and is used to periodically check the internal temperature. I strongly prefer the digital thermometers (about $25), but the dial ones ($8-15) will work as well. You want to measure the temperature in the thickest part of the meat. In poultry, this will be the breast and/or thigh.
Here is the most important part ! Meat continues to cook even after it has been removed from the heat source, therefore, you want to stop cooking the meat just before it has reached the desired doneness; it will finish cooking on its own from the residual heat.
Here are the recommended final temperatures for meats. I remove them from the heat source 5-10 degrees prior to achieving the desired temperature and allow them to finish cooking via residual heat.
Rare – 120 degrees
Medium rare – 125 degrees
Medium – 130 degrees
Medium well – 135 degrees
Well – 140 degrees
Chicken and turkey
The single biggest reason for toughness in grass-fed meat is overcooking.
However, it is also important that the consumer be realistic in their expectations of grass-fed meat. Grass-fed beef whether from our farm or someone else’s is NEVER going to be like meat in the store (that’s the good news/bad news.)
- Beef purchased in the store has been confined to a feed lot and fed high calorie junk until it is obese. The extreme marbling you see in supermarket meats, especially cuts that grade “prime’ is caused by fat overload in the cow. Animals store the majority of their fat along the outside of their body as a “wrap.” When they can’t hold any more fat that way, the system overloads and begins sticking fat anywhere it can, hence fat is then stored in the muscle tissue.
- Grass-fed animals consume a natural diet of grass, legumes and native plants. They are not going to stack on fat like a feedlot steer.
- Fat is much less firm than muscle, so much of the tenderness of grocery store beef is due to the amount of fat in the product. Think of our own body…..which is more firm, the muscled places or (for those of us over 40) the middle aged spread?
- Our beef IS dry aged, which allows for enzymes to break down the tougher tissues within the meat. This helps the tenderness a great deal, but if you overcook it, it won’t matter.