Grass-fed, grass-finished beef is absolutely delicious--make no mistake. We've known more than a few people who swore they'd never eat anything but grain-finished convert to grass evangelists after trying a well-raised grass-finished steak.
At risk of going full beef-nerd on you, I'll quickly explain:
Grain-finished beef is known for marbling and tenderness because grain helps cows gain weight more quickly and reliably, and because grains just tend to produce a milder steak flavor. Grass-finished beef tends to have a beefier--sometimes called "gamier"--flavor because of the nutritional complexity of pasture grasses, and it also tends to be a little leaner.
That leanness, especially, means you need to cook grass-fed, grass-finished steak differently.
- Grass-fed steak has less water and less fat content than the grain-finished steak you might be used to. Here are our best tips for cooking a grass-finished steak to perfect yumminess:
- Grass-fed beef takes 25-30% less time to cook. If you typically cook your rib steaks 4 minutes per side, try 3 minutes with a grass-finished steak.
- Sous vide is a fail-safe cooking method for grass-finished. If you're at all nervous about over-cooking your grass-fed steak, sous vide it in a vacuum-sealed bag. That method has the dual benefit of zero lost moisture content (so it won't dry out) and temperature precision (meaning you won't overcook it).
- Reverse-sear works great, too. This involves quickly searing the steak in a very hot pan to produce a caramelized crust, then finishing the steak in a low-heat oven to warm the inside of the steak to your desired temperature (medium-rare is the best option for maximum tenderness).
- With grass-fed, marinades are your friend. Rubs and marinades can often overwhelm more mellow grain-finished beef, but are perfect for rounding out the flavor of grass-fed beef. Marinades in particular help keep the meat moist, preventing it from overcooking and drying out.