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Archive for the ‘grass fed beef’ Category

>How to Make Sure Your Grass Fed Beef is Tender

Posted by Thrivelearning on March 6, 2011

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I was doing my usual stint at Internet research recently and found an interesting article about grass fed beef tenderness and its relationship to tasty beef.
While I earlier had found an article from the University of Missouri, where studies of grass-fed and corn-fed beef (Martz) showed no real differences of when processed using methods to increase tenderness on both types of beef. Simply put, corn fed beef will result in more fat on a carcass which will allow it to be processed and prepared faster. The loss is in the taste.  Corn fed (IMHO) has little to no taste compared with grass-fed.
Now the disclaimer I have to make right off is that there are differences from farm to farm and from season to season. The idea is that you find a variety of beef which you are happy with and then stick with that producer and processor. As you know your farmer, you’ll know your food.
To explain this, let’s use the Minnesota article as a base to develop a checklist:

(For more on grass fed beef tenderness, see below PDF…)

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Posted in grass fed beef | Leave a Comment »

>Video on grass fed beef – with some inaccuracies

Posted by Thrivelearning on August 2, 2010

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First, here’s the video – from the Food Network:

Now, he’s got this a little wrong. He’s completely right about how it has more flavor. But…

First, the art director put the cow in front of a field of wheat – which isn’t good to eat in that form either.

Second, whole corn isn’t bad for the cow – it’s got a lot of green leaves on it. Even whole corn with the cob isn’t a bad thing – they won’t get gas from it as they will if you shuck the corn off of it. But if your cows do get out, they will head straight for the corn, as it’s better than the grass and tastes like a room full of dessert. They won’t get sick, but you won’t have a corn crop left, either.

Third, it’s a dairy cow. Oops. These are usually sent for processing at the end of life, when they can’t produce a calf anymore, so won’t produce milk, either. This is where all those “downer” cow videos are made. (And that’s a dairy barn behind the cow – the silo is for feeding silage, which is usually made from ground-up whole corn stalks…)

Fourth, grass-fed beef can get higher grades than Select. These days, depending on genetics, it can be Prime or Choice. So you don’t have to settle. Belted Galloways have long been known to out-grade Angus and other breeds, even though they are a lean beef.

That’s the real problem with the USDA beef grade system – it was changed in the 70’s to reflect the corn-fed beef, so they give extra points for having a lot of fat in it – particularly the white fat which corn creates. Grass fed beef will have the healthier (and more flavorful) yellow fat – and not as much on it.

As far as toughness, I was just reviewing a University of Missouri study where they finished cattle on pasture as opposed to corn. Properly aged, there was no tenderness difference between corn and grass-finished beef.  Again, wet-aging is more common, and corn-fed beef with lots of fat will “cure” faster – so commodity agriculture tends to win out, since faster and cheaper has paid better (well, until recently).

Now the video above also mentioned that Argentinean beef is finished on grass – not so much. They learned that corn-fed was more in demand, so will actually finish some of their beef on corn (as little as a month) to get a higher profit. That month or two of corn will reverse all the healthy high CLA’s and Omega 3 oils. Just like that.

But it is an entertaining video. And the big point is that grass-fed beef naturally tastes better. Side by side, cooked the same way, grass fed beef has more flavor and is just as tender as corn-fed.

You pay more right now, because fewer people produce it and more people want it than we can raise beef to supply them. More farms are switching over to grass fed finishing every day – so see those prices start to drop over a few years.

For now – enjoy the full flavor naturally-raised beef brings to your table!

Posted in grass fed beef | Leave a Comment »

>Moving from Conventional to Mob Grazing

Posted by Thrivelearning on April 9, 2010

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Just wanted to let you know the simple steps on how to move from conventional grass fed beef over to mob grazing, or “ultra-high-density managed grazing.” It’s really quite simple. Since I’ve already blogged this today over at “A Midwest Journal, I’ll give you the highlights:

1. Get out everyday for some excuse and move some fences. Actually walk out in and around your cattle regardless of the weather. This gets them used to you. And you’ll get more familiar with the individual cattle and how they are doing. You’ll probably go through more pairs of boots, but it’s cheaper than fuel and engine parts.

2. Study up on Managed Grazing. This is the step that both Joel Salatin and Greg Judy did first, while they eventually moved to Allan Savory’s methods of ultra-high-density stocking.

3. Start laying some temporary electric lines out with battery-powered chargers, subdividing your existing pastures so that cattle just have enough to eat for a couple of days in every small part. You’ll probably want to start with a small herd in a back pasture. We have some heifers and steers we keep back until they’re ready to meet the bull or the processor, so they are a good experiment. Take a nice pasture that already has a water supply available and a good perimeter fence.

4. Start buying hay with the money you’d spend on fertilizer, fuel, and equipment for hay. It should buy you the same amount or more. Quit growing your own. Import other people’s grass onto your farm and use it to fertilize your own fields.  But put those hay bales out where they’d do some good – not just in a feed lot where you are having to move it back out to the pastures again. Takes some foresight – but you’ll use your tractor a lot less during the winter as you do.

5. Start moving your cattle through those former hay pastures. Under managed grazing, you’ll get through these about three or four times over eight months. In mob grazing, you’ll get through about twice a year. All that former hay ground can start making beef pounds while it’s fertilized at the same time. Win-win.

6. Study the temporary layouts you are using. Cattle need three things – water, grass, and shelter. In “Grass-Fed Cattle”, Julius Ruechel says that you can take your whole farm and simply rotate the cattle through it as you go. Our own farm is dotted with ponds, strips of woods, and waterways that are full in the spring, so this is a no-brainer.

7. Study where you are putting fences – if you keep putting them in the same spot, maybe you should put a permanent fence up there. We use steel t-bar posts for corners and just leave them there with the insulators on (so we can find them later) and this tells us where we are coming back to all the time.

 8. This brings up another point – use what you got to start with. There’s a lot of great fiberglass poles out there and fancy-dancy geared wind-up reels. We use reels for power cords and our old rebar poles with plastic insulators on them. (If you can’t shove them in with a heavy leather glove on your hand, you can carry a hammer on your belt for frozen or summer-hardened ground.) Invest in better gear when your cows start bringing you more profit from the lower overhead.

And I’m trying out an Amazon widget to give you some related books – so you don’t have to look all over for references as you’re getting started. (But this looks buggy – have to get back to you on it…)

This of course brought up the point of figuring out how to raise just a few or a couple of cows on very few acres. Look’s like I’ve got some more to put on my backburners…

Posted in allan savory, grass fed beef, greg judy, joel salatin, mob grazing | Leave a Comment »

>Recipes for Crockpot Grass-Fed Beef – with beans, gravy, or as lasagna

Posted by Thrivelearning on November 8, 2009

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I know that all this writing about naturally pasture-finished beef recipes has probably put on pounds just in the research. But I could hardly wait to bring these to you.

Beans and beef have been a staple on this continent ever since settler times. These recipes – even the lasagna – are for easy cooking and delightful dining – especially for those of us on a hectic schedule.

Now note: today, I’m bringing ones you may want to try over the weekend, when you don’t have to be away from your kitchen all day. After all, you can smell the delicious aroma’s through the whole house – so coming in after some morning exercise or sports will make lunch a true treat. Or maybe a quick dinner for friends you’ve been out with all afternoon…

Again, I’m recommending a crockpot for these first few grass-fed beef recipes, as it helps lock the moisture in and further tenderize the beef.

CROCKPOT BEANS

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 lb. fried crumbled bacon
  • 1 c. chopped onions
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. hickory smoke flavoring

1 lb. can each pork and beans, lima beans, butter beans, and kidney beans
-Cook on low in crockpot for 4-8 hours. The longer it cooks, the smokier it tastes.

CROCKPOT BEEF AND GRAVY

  • 2-3 pounds roast cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 packet Lipton’s Onion soup mix
  • 2 cans Cream of mushroom soup

Place pieces of roast in crock pot. Sprinkle packet of onion soup on meat. Cover with cream of mushroom soup. Let cook up to 9 hours. Stir about 1/2 way through cooking (but I’m sure you could just stir at the end). Serve over mashed potatoes or pasta.

CROCKPOT ALMOST LASAGNA

  • 1 box rotini (or ziti), any fun, flavorful pasta will do
  • 2 – 28-oz jars pasta sauce(one with tomato chunks works well)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb sausage
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 C. parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 bag mozzarella cheese
  • 16-20 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • dash salt & pepper

Grease crock-pot, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook rotini according to package directions, drain. Brown and drain meat. Toss pasta with olive oil. Add pasta sauce to mixture, toss well. Stir together parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 bag mozzarella cheese, and browned meat. Can sprinkle lightly with garlic powder. Beat together ricotta, 2 eggs, parmesan, parsley, salt & pepper. Pour half of pasta/sauce/meat mixture into crock-pot. Spread entire ricotta mixture over first layer of pasta. Cover ricotta layer with remaining pasta mixture, and cover with remaining cheese. Cover, and cook on low 4-6 hours.

And now we again visit La Cense – those Montana grass fed beef experts – for a chili recipe specifically designed around the incredibly flavorful natural beef they raise: 

Chili Con Carne

Ingredients

  • 1 pound La Cense Ground Steak Burger
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-14 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican Oregano
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 cup beef broth (optional)
  • Salt, cayenne and pepper to taste

Instructions
Brown meat in large heavy pot on medium high heat, drain excess fat if desired. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft (about ten minutes). Reduce heat and add tomatoes and spices. Salt and pepper to taste, if you like your chili hot add cayenne pepper (1 teaspoon for medium and 2 teaspoons for hot) but be careful!

– – – –

While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.

Posted in cooking natural beef, crock pot, grass fed beef | Leave a Comment »

>Just what you need – a juicy, tender, grass-fed beef steak…

Posted by Thrivelearning on November 7, 2009

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Nothing like a juicy steak, cooked to order.
Unfortunately, except for some weekends, who has the time on our busy schedules to cook steak just the way we like it? And with this economy – how are you going to afford a restaurant that will cook grass-fed steak for you?  (Most don’t even know there’s a difference between grain-fed and natural, pasture-finished beef!) 
A crock pot is our best remedy for cooking this lean beef just the way we like it, while also keeping the moisture and tenderness in. Set it up in the morning to cook, come home at night and enjoy!
I was looking around for recipes recently and came across two recipes for scrumptious crockpot steak.

Have fun with these:

CROCKPOT BEEF STROGANOFF III

  • 3 lb. beef round steak, 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 med. onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 2 (4 oz. each) cans sliced mushrooms, drained or 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (10 1/2 oz.) can condensed beef broth
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 c. flour

Trim all excess fat (if you can find any) from steak and cut meat into 3 inch strips about 1/2 inch wide.

Combine 1/2 cup flour, the salt, pepper and dry mustard; toss with steak strips to coat thoroughly. Place coated steak strips in crock pot; stir in onion rings and mushrooms. Add beef broth and wine; stir well. Cover and cook on low setting for 8- 10 hours. Before serving, combine sour cream with 1/4 cup flour; stir into crock pot. Serve stroganoff over rice or noodles.

CROCKPOT BRACIOLE

  • 2 1/2 pounds Round steak
  • 1/4 to 1/2″ thick 1/2 pound Bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon Dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Leaf oregano
  • 2 cloves Garlic — minced
  • 1 large Onion — finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 can Italian style tomatoes — 16 0z
  • 1 can tomato paste — (6 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Leaf oregano
  • 10 large Tomatoes or 2 28 oz cans tomatoes
  • 5 cloves Garlic — chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 large Onions — chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar

-Trim all excess fat (if you can find any) from round steak. Cut into 8 evenly shaped pieces. Pound steak pieces between waxed paper until very thin and easy to roll. In skillet, lightly brown sausage. Drain well and combine with parsley, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, garlic, onion, and salt; mix well. Spread each steak with 2 to 3 tablespoons of sausage mixture. Roll up steaks and tie. Stack steak rolls in crock pot. Combine tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and 1 teaspoon oreagno; pour over rolls. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours. Serve steak rolls with sauce.

-SAUCE: Place all ingredients except flour, oil, and vinegar in crockpot; stir well. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours. Remove cover and turn to high setting for the last hour to reduce excess moisture. Before removing sauce from crock pot, stir in flour, oil, and vinegar. Allow to cool. Pour 3 cups of sauce at a time into blender container; blend until smooth.

From the folks at La Cense – the premier Montana grass-fed beef folks – I’ve found this marvelous recipe for steak. So set aside some time to really revel in luxury – maybe one of those longer holidays coming up…

Steakhouse-Style Bone in Tenderloin Filet

by Ulla Kjarval

Ingredients

Instructions

Salt and pepper the steak and rub with a bit of olive oil. You want to bring the steaks to room temperature so let them sit for half an hour before you broil them. Preheat the broiler for 15 minutes. You will need to broil the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side, but broilers vary greatly so use your discretion. This is a perfect dinner for two. Serve with creamed spinach and oven-fried potatoes. Enjoy!

– – – –

While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.

Posted in beef steak recipe, cooking natural beef, grass fed beef | Leave a Comment »

>Grass Fed Recipes – moisture-rich cooking for busy people

Posted by Thrivelearning on November 6, 2009

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Here’s some recipes I’ve uncovered in my research. Now you cooks out there, have patience with this old cow-boy. My best meal to date has been Pancakes, followed closely by French Toast.

But the key with Grass Fed Beef is to realize it doesn’t have that extra fat in it. So these recipes mostly use a crock pot to keep the moisture in and additionally tenderize the beef.

The other advantage to crock pots is that it can safely cook all day while you are at work, creating a warm and satisfying meal (or several) ready for you when you return that night. So even if you don’t enjoy a rural lifestyle like many of us, you can enjoy the beef we grow!

CROCKPOT BEEF AND BEANS

  • 1 1/2 lbs of stewing beef
  • 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 1 tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 can 16 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 med. onion chopped
  • 1 can Kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 can chili beans

(I also added 1 can of black beans)
-Combine mustard, taco seasonings, salt , pepper and garlic in a large bowl. Add beef and toss to coat!
-Put the beef in your crock pot and add the rest of the ingriedients. Cover and cook for 6 -8 hours on LOW.
-Serve over yummy hot rice!

CROCKPOT BEEF AND GRAVY

  • 2-3 pounds roast cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 packet Lipton’s Onion soup mix
  • 2 cans Cream of mushroom soup

Place pieces of roast in crock pot. Sprinkle packet of onion soup on meat. Cover with cream of mushroom soup. Let cook up to 9 hours. Stir about 1/2 way through cooking (but I’m sure you could just stir at the end). Serve over mashed potatoes or pasta.

CROCKPOT BEEF FAJITAS

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef flank steak
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 green sweet pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 can (8oz) chopped tomatoes
  • 12 8inch flour tortillas

Toppings: sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheddar cheese and salsa

Cut flank steak into 6 portions. In any size crockpot combine meat, onion, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and salt. Add tomatoes. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours. Remove meat from crockpot and shred. Return meat to crockpot and stir. To serve, spread meat mixture into flour tortillas and top with toppings. Roll up.

More pointers on cooking grass-fed beef

La Cense – the Montana Grass-Fed Beef experts – have some additional pointers about cooking pasture-finished, natural beef:

Like all grass fed meat, La Cense Beef cooks differently from the grain fed beef found in most supermarkets and butchers. This will help you get the tastiest results – every time!

Keep It Frozen!
Keep your La Cense Beef frozen until you’re ready to use it. Then thaw it completely before cooking. To defrost, we recommend placing each individual vacuum-packed cut in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re in a rush, you can also defrost in a bowl of cool water. Never use warm water.

Less (Heat) Is More (Flavor)
Because La Cense Beef is lean, lightly marbled and lower in fat than conventional grain-fed beef, its flavor is accentuated by cooking at a slightly lower temperature and for slightly less time. So, unless a recipe specifies grass fed beef, reduce the temperature in the recipe by 50° when cooking with La Cense Beef. Even at the lower temperature, cooking time for grass fed beef will be about 30% to 50% less than for conventional beef.

And as well, here is one of there top recipes from Ulla Kjarval:

Roasted La Cense Boneless Prime Rib Roast

Ingredients

  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 Boneless La Cense Prime Rib Roast- about 3 pounds
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Instructions

Defrost the roast in water the day before keeping it in the plastic in a large bowl of water. This should take about 3 hours. Place in the refrigerator overnight. Two hours before you cook the roast take the roast out letting it reach room temperature. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, season the roast and slather it with olive oil, roughly chop rosemary and place on top with garlic, set in a roasting pan. You will be roasting this quickly at about 5 minutes per pound – I had mine in the oven for about 20 minutes. It is important to have a meat thermometer so that you can monitor the doneness, as most ovens vary greatly (mine takes a long time) you will want it roasted to an internal temperature around 130°F to 140°F which is medium rare. Let it rest in a tin foil tent for 10 minutes before you serve! Enjoy!

– – – –

While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.

Posted in cooking natural beef, grass fed beef, rural lifestyle | Leave a Comment »

>Why my grass fed beef won’t replace any corn for your tortillas any time soon

Posted by Thrivelearning on November 5, 2009

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Sure, I’m just joking about the tortillas – practically, the seeming biggest use of corn is sent to animal food. 1% is sweet corn, 25% goes to ethanol (and the byproduct leftover is then fed to animals), 20% is exported and another tiny bit is used for food ingredients, chemicals, fabrics, and plastics. (Source: EcoProducts)

But one of the big whoppers being told by the “animal rights” activists and other enviro’s is that cattle are taking the land we’d be growing crops on.

Look, I’m from Missouri, where we are #2 behind Texas in raising cattle. If the land is good enough to raise profitable crops, you won’t see a cow anywhere near it.

Good crop ground makes between 150 – 200 bushels of corn an acre. It takes 2.5 acres to keep a cow alive in Missouri (more out West.) So if you are getting $800 for a full-grown steer or could take those 500 bushels of corn off those same 2.5 acres and sell them at $4 each ($2,000) – which would you do?

That’s probably why we shifted over to feeding cheap corn to cows instead of having them munch away at prairie grasses. But you will also see the big feedlots in crop country, not down in the rolling hills that start where I live and keep going further down into southern Missouri.

But I’m awfully tempted to take the rest of my 45 acres I farm as crops and convert it to pasture. Why? Because it doesn’t make but about 80 bushel per acre of corn. And the cost per acre is the same, whether you get a 200 bu. yield or nothing.

Crunching the numbers for the land I have showed that I got about $2,000 profit off those 45 acres last year. Pays the taxes and the bills, barely. Now, say I had a crop which didn’t require inputs and was pure profit. 45 acres should keep about 18 more cows. If I sell their calves at about $600 profit, then I make $10,800 – so which is more profitable?

That’s what these other big-city complainers just don’t get – cattle are raised on marginal land which won’t produce any decent sort of food otherwise. Our own farm land is all marginal, even the stuff we crop right now. Mostly trees, shrubs and clay ground under about 2-3 inches of top soil. Raises better grass and trees than anything else.

You go 40 miles north or east and it’s a different scene. 6-8″ topsoil and that 200 bu. corn I mentioned earlier.

The trick is to raise that low-maintenance, low-input, environmentally-friendly grass fed beef.

Because the land only gets better when you raise your beef right. And the quality of the beef is the best that can be produced. Award-winning and lab-tests to prove how heart-healthy it is.

And it will make this farmer improve his own rural lifestyle by being able to maybe quit his day job – one day, anyway.

If you follow what Nature laid out, not the government, you generally have an easier time of it. At least, that’s what I’ve experienced.

Try it for yourself and see…

– – – –

While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.

Posted in beef cattle, government cost, grass fed beef, rural lifestyle | Leave a Comment »