How to cook grass-fed beef
Do not overcook
Because grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed, it doesn’t have a lot of spare fat to keep it moist when cooked too long or at temperatures that are too high. Beef with lots of fat is more forgiving of sloppy cooking, but grass-fed cuts need a little extra attention and care.
So, rule number one: don’t overcook. Grass-fed beef needs about 30 percent less cooking time than most common beef and is best if cooked medium-rare to medium, or it will be too tough. Keep an eye on the internal temperature. Just stick a meat thermometer where the steak is thickest. (You can find a thermometer in most kitchen supply stores for a few dollars.) If the thermometer registers around 135°F, it means the meat is still rare. You want a temperature between 145°F and 155°F for medium-rare to medium. Anything above that is too much, and your steak will lose its moisture and tenderness.
If you don’t have a thermometer and don’t particularly care about a picture-perfect piece of meat, you can always cut a slit in a bottom corner of your steak and check for doneness.
And if you just can’t bring yourself to eat medium-rare meat and like your steak well-done, when using grass-fed beef you may want to opt for a cooking method that utilizes a lot of moisture to keep the meat tender (see Cooking Methods below).
Do not microwave
Do not cook when frozen or partially frozen
Thaw the meat in the refrigerator or under cold running water, but don’t de-frost it in a microwave oven.
Let rest after cooking
As a rule, always let any type of meat rest for 8 to 10 minutes after taking it out of the heat. This will help redistribute the juices inside the meat before serving. In particular, when you’re planning to serve the meat in pieces, don’t cut into it right away because the juices will immediately spill out, resulting in a drier texture. For the same reason, always turn your meat with tongs rather than a fork when cooking it. Deliciously precious juices will be lost if you poke the meat.
Tip: if you’re preparing hamburgers with grass-fed beef, add caramelized onions or other moisturizing ingredients to compensate for the leaner meat. (Grass-fed hamburgers are generally 80% to 90% lean.)
There are two main ways of cooking meat: dry heat and moist heat methods.
Dry heat cooking methods include sautéing, grilling, and roasting. Grass-fed beef can be cooked with any kind of dry heat method as long as you are extra careful not to overcook it.
When cooking grass-fed beef with dry-heat methods, make sure to always sear the beef over high heat, then continue cooking it at a lower temperature either in a pan, on the grill or in the oven, depending on the method you’re using and the recipe.
Moist heat cooking methods include braising, stewing, and poaching. While you’re not likely to poach a piece of beef, braising and stewing are wonderful ways of slow-cooking meat in a lot of juices, including stocks and wine, making it exquisitely tender and full of flavor. Ever wondered why people refer to “meat that falls off the bone”? Try braising and you’ll experience it first hand. Any kind of grass-fed beef can be easily braised or stewed without any risk of moisture loss and dried out meat.