Grass-fed Grilling 101

Adriana Velez
Food & Party

grass-fed steak

Photo by Adriana Velez

There are plenty of do-gooder reasons to choose grass-fed beef. It's better for the environment. It's kinder to cows because their digestive system is designed to digest grass, and they get to wander freely over the range (80 percent of all US beef comes from four companies that raise cattle in much more crowded conditions and feed the cattle grains, which is harder for cows to digest). Also, grass-fed is leaner and has a bit more heart-and-brain-lovin' omega-3.

But my #1 reason for choosing grass-fed beef: Taste. Grass-fed has a bright, complex, earthy flavors that I love.

So you may be wondering: If grass-fed beef is leaner and has more complex flavors than grain-fed beef, do you have to cook it a special way?

Not really. Here's a few guidelines:

  • Be gentle when you grill your grass-fed beef. My friend Goldilocks recommends you "cook the steaks at a lower temperature, farther way from the flame for a shorter time."
  • You may want to marinate the beef in olive oil a few hours before you grill, but go easy on acids like vinegar and citrus, which can make meat go mushy.
  • And if you're still nervous, just buy it ground for burgers and make wide, flat patties -- that's how you make sure the beef in the center is cooked thoroughly without burning the outside.

American Grassfed Beef also has grass-fed cooking tips.

Where to buy grass-fed beef:

Your local farmers' market

Rocky Mountain Organic Meats

Eat Wild

I know what you're thinking: Dang that stuff is expensive! Someday this will change if more and more people keep buying grass-fed. Meanwhile, I think it's worth it to eat higher-quality meat occasionally than cheaper meat frequently.

By the way, check out this grass-fed vs. grain burger tasting on Serious Eats.


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