Pasture To Plate
Dec 07, 2012
from Pasture to plate
A few years ago, I read an article about the practice it takes to prepare Grass-fed BEEF correctly. Even though it was written 2-3 years ago, the info. still applies today.
It was written by Chef Michael Formichella. He stated that while he was working with a large beef group, he had many discussions about how our food makes it’s way to our tables here in the U.S. These discussions than made him wonder if the simpler ways of the past were better for cattle and the consumer?
Chef Formichella noted that "before WWII all American BEEF was "Grass-finished," meaning that cattle ate pasture grasses for a large portion of their lives. Today, the vast majority of cattle spend anywhere from 60-120 days in feedlots being fattened with grain before being slaughtered." Chef Formichella also stated that "Unless a consumer deliberately chooses Grass-finished, Grass-fed or Free-ranged meat, the beef bought at your local grocery store will be of the corn-finished variety." Because the corn-finished method brings cattle to slaughter weights faster, the result is less expensive beef products for the mass consumers."
With sustainability becoming a more common practice, consumers are becoming educated about the health benefits of Grass-based farms and the animals they produce. Many "Grass Ranchers/Farmers" from Big Sky Country to the East coast say their ranching methods create happier/healthier animals that are ultimately a better product for the consumer.
Chef Formichella also stated that "Grass-fed ground meat & steaks are sold in specialty food stores for substantially higher price per point per pound than ordinary BEEF." "Consumers will pay the higher price even during these tough economic times." Grass-fed meat products are also beginning to become readily available in stores right on the farm where the animals are raised. For most consumers that is a BIG selling point. Because of a high occurrence of Level 1 Food Recall’s across the United States, consumers want to know where their food comes from. Not just what country, but what farm in which State. If you can provide a safe BEEF product with traceability to the pasture it was born and raised on for it’s entire life, you’ve got the confidence of the consumer! Traceability is where your success as a BEEF producer is.
The secret to ageing Grass-fed BEEF is short hanging time (generally 7-10 days), and than "Wet ageing" the BEEF for 5-7 day’s BEFORE vac-sealing and freezing it. Grass-fed meat has distinct flavors depending on the season and which grass was fed to the animals. Another important thing to remember when preparing grass-fed meat on the grill, stove top or oven is that it will cook much faster than traditional grain-fed meat. In some cases (depending on the cut of meat), it could cook in half the time! This is simply due to being much lower in fat. However, the lack of fat doesn’t mean a lack of flavor. Nor does it mean the meat will be tougher. If you don’t know how to cook meat, any cut (Grain or Grass-fed), will be as tough as a shoe.
Grass-fed BEEF will also have less shrinkage on your customers grill. That’s another thing they will remember. When they put 4 pounds of steaks or ground beef on their grill they don’t want to end up with 2 pounds of meat on their plate.