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should grass fed beef be tough, or am I cooking it wrong?

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  • should grass fed beef be tough, or am I cooking it wrong?

    Since I started eating meat a couple months ago (the first time in my life!), I've only had grass fed, with the exception of a couple very nice steaks I've had in restaurants. I love love love the beef I cook at home, but my husband (a lifelong carnivore) says it is tougher than what he is used to. He also says it is moist, and flavorful, and awesome, so I'm definitely doing something right.

    I would agree that my steaks are definitely tougher than the steaks I've had in restaurants, but those are all much pricier cuts of the cow, like tenderloin, as opposed to the flatiron we make at home. Neither of us really minds, but I also want to make sure I'm cooking it correctly and not ruining good meat.

    My questions are:
    -Is it normal for grass fed beef to be significantly tougher than corn fed beef?
    -Is there anything I should do during cooking to compensate?
    The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

    You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do. - Kilgore Trout

  • #2
    I am not a meat cooking connoisseur, but if it is tough, it should also be a little dry (not moist). It makes sense that grass fed beef should be cooked less because it is naturally less fatty, so it dries up/leathers up more easily. I just saw the cut you are using, and maybe that is the issue as well?

    I am sure others will weigh in and help you out.

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    • #3
      I think it has a tendency to be tougher because of less fat marbling it. You can compensate by cooking it lower/shorter (for grill) and lower/longer (for stew/braise) than grain fed.

      And then just use really sharp steak knives. I've noticed my judgment on how tough something is tends to be heavily influenced by the sharpness of the knife I cut it with
      Liz.

      Zone diet on and off for several years....worked, but too much focus on exact meal composition
      Primal since July 2010...skinniest I've ever been and the least stressed about food

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      • #4
        Because there is less fat/marbling, it should be prepared rare or medium rare or it will dry out. You want to cook it at slightly lower temperatures than with other beef and pull it off of the heat earlier than you would normally. Also, with any beef, make sure it's at room temp before you cook it - that ensures it's evenly cooked.

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        • #5
          Yeah, I'm cooking it rare (or even blue), and also letting it come to room temperature. It isn't dry in the least, just takes a bit more chewing!

          I'll definitely try the lower temperatures/longer time thing though. Is there any way to make it...I don't know...fattier maybe? Rub it with ghee? Inject olive oil?
          The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

          You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do. - Kilgore Trout

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          • #6
            slow and low is the way to cook grassfed beef.

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            • #7
              Oddly enough, the directionality of the cut also makes a difference. Muscle fibers have a bias to them, that is they run in one direction through a cut of meat and not the other. If you cut along the grain, you get chewier, tougher feeling cuts of meat. If you cut across the grain, the muscle fibers tend to fall apart more easily when you chew, into small pieces that are easier to swallow.

              Think of a muscle like a collection of garden hoses all laid out together and bundled up. If you cut along the direction they run, you'll get a narrow strip of long hoses that need to be chewed to breakdown small enough to swallow. If you cut across the hose, you get a collection of short hose pieces that fall apart pretty easily. Same thing.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by theholla View Post
                Since I started eating meat a couple months ago (the first time in my life!), I've only had grass fed, with the exception of a couple very nice steaks I've had in restaurants. I love love love the beef I cook at home, but my husband (a lifelong carnivore) says it is tougher than what he is used to. He also says it is moist, and flavorful, and awesome, so I'm definitely doing something right.

                I would agree that my steaks are definitely tougher than the steaks I've had in restaurants, but those are all much pricier cuts of the cow, like tenderloin, as opposed to the flatiron we make at home. Neither of us really minds, but I also want to make sure I'm cooking it correctly and not ruining good meat.

                My questions are:
                -Is it normal for grass fed beef to be significantly tougher than corn fed beef?
                -Is there anything I should do during cooking to compensate?
                Meat can also be tough due to a lack of aging, which means virtually all shop bought meat.
                You need to let the enzymes do a little work by breaking down the proteins.
                You can try 'dry aging' the meat a little by leaving the cut on a drying rack in at the bottom of your fridge for a week or so, this method also develops more flavor.
                Alternatively, some people prefer to 'wet age' by sealing the meat in cryovac bags and letting it sit for even longer.

                The best steak restaurants allways serve aged beef. So if it's good enough for them..

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dave_o View Post
                  Meat can also be tough due to a lack of aging, which means virtually all shop bought meat.
                  You need to let the enzymes do a little work by breaking down the proteins.
                  You can try 'dry aging' the meat a little by leaving the cut on a drying rack in at the bottom of your fridge for a week or so, this method also develops more flavor.
                  Alternatively, some people prefer to 'wet age' by sealing the meat in cryovac bags and letting it sit for even longer.

                  The best steak restaurants allways serve aged beef. So if it's good enough for them..
                  Has anybody tried the dry aged beef at Whole Foods? It's pricey, I think upwards of $20/lb.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Yaish View Post
                    Oddly enough, the directionality of the cut also makes a difference. Muscle fibers have a bias to them, that is they run in one direction through a cut of meat and not the other. If you cut along the grain, you get chewier, tougher feeling cuts of meat. If you cut across the grain, the muscle fibers tend to fall apart more easily when you chew, into small pieces that are easier to swallow.

                    Think of a muscle like a collection of garden hoses all laid out together and bundled up. If you cut along the direction they run, you'll get a narrow strip of long hoses that need to be chewed to breakdown small enough to swallow. If you cut across the hose, you get a collection of short hose pieces that fall apart pretty easily. Same thing.
                    or you could compare it to celery. You can have long and stringy or short and easy to eat
                    I didn't like the rules you gave me, so I made some of my own.

                    Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe

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                    • #11
                      Yeah, I definitely cut against the grain too (I'm a big nerd so I did a lot of reading before I cooked my first steak, haha).

                      Dave_o - the meat I get has been frozen in vacuum bags. Do you know if I could leave it in one of those for wet aging, or would I need to re-bag it?
                      The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

                      You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do. - Kilgore Trout

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                      • #12
                        i buy grass-fed longhorn meat from a rancher that i know. Mostly, it's best to stick to ground meat (& add an egg to it for burgers), stew meat, oxtail, etc. Either burgers or low & slow, like someone else has already said. I have done the steaks before but you really have to marinade them forever, and cook them rare! Even so, they are lean & not so fatty, so they're just not gonna taste like fatty marbled steaks.

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                        • #13
                          ...and, it turns out that I just needed to pony up for some nicer cuts of steak.

                          I made New York strip steaks last night. I got them from the same farm as the flatiron steaks, but chose a cut that's twice as pricey. Problem solved!
                          The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

                          You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do. - Kilgore Trout

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                          • #14
                            I eat flatiron steaks about twice per week and they are tougher than other, fattier cuts.
                            People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

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                            • #15
                              If you are doing a roast or something that is a cheaper cut put the fatty side up so the fat melts into the roast. If there is no fatty side, smear liberally with butter or other fat prior to cooking.

                              Marinating in acid will also improve the texture as it breaks down some of the fibers and helps the butter get in there. . I like lime juice on steak (along with other marinade ingredients). For a cheaper steak marinate 24 hours.

                              And of course, sear and then slowcook.
                              MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

                              "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7

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