Set high up in Northern California’s Hat Creek Valley in the Lassen National Forest, Hat Creek Ranch is owned and operated by Henry and Pam Giacomini. A sixth-generation farm, Hat Creek features 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef.
Hat Creek’s grazing pastures are in mountain rangeland, offering a unique blend of desert grasses and forest greenery. During the region’s Mediterranean-style winters, the cows graze at low elevations. As summer hits, the cows are moved to the cooler forest lands to keep munching away on nutritious greens.
The only fertilizer used on the ranch is what the cows produce: nutrient-rich manure that makes for healthy soil. The Giacominis only administer antibiotics sparingly, if an animal is sick. They don't use GMOs, and they never use growth hormones.
Hat Creek’s commitment to sustainable land management is what makes their beef so beautifully marbled. By regularly moving the cows to green pastures, the land is given a chance to regenerate and the cows get energy-rich food that makes the beef juicy and tender.
Grass-fed, grass-finished beef is delicious, make no mistake about it. Speaking of mistakes, many people who write-off grass-fed beef make the mistake of preparing it the same as the grain-finished beef that they're so used to. At Crowd Cow, we've found more often than not, that the difference between a great grass-fed steak and a sub-par one all comes down to knowing how to cook it correctly.
At Crowd Cow, we've had the good fortune to taste a lot of grass-fed, grass-finished beef -- from different cuts and different producers. We've found that grass fed beef usually takes 25-30% less time to cook. You might be used to cooking your rib steaks 4 minutes per side, but for grass-fed beef, you'll want to only give it 3 minutes. Better yet, try sous-viding your grass-fed steaks or preparing them with a reverse-sear.
Lastly, consider a marinade or rub. These can often overwhelm more-mellow grain-finished beef, but are perfect for rounding out the flavor of grass-fed beef, and marinades in particular are helpful in keeping the meat moist, preventing it from overcooking and drying out.