Ellsworth, Kansas used to be known as the “wickedest” cattle town in Kansas. During the famous cattle drives of the 1870s, cows outnumbered people 75:1.
These days, Ellsworth doesn’t attract as many roving cowboys, but it’s definitely still cattle country.
At Hoft Red Angus, a multigenerational cattle ranch that’s been around since 1901, cousins Rick Pflughoeft and Brian Rogers and their families are raising Red Angus cattle on the native Kansas grasslands and producing tender, delicious grass-finished steak.
You’ve probably heard of Black Angus -- the most common breed of cattle in America -- but Red Angus is a slightly different affair. The cattle are a little smaller, a little hardier, and their meat develops an especially deep beefy flavor that, in Brian’s words, “just tastes like home.”
The Pflughoeft, Rogers, and McWilliams families -- who are all part of the same extended family -- like the Red Angus breed because of how well it does on a grass-only diet, and its history of high-quality steaks.
Brian Rogers explains,
“Our family has been ranching on the same land for 117 years this October, so we go back to the old school of thinking. We’re pretty slow motion around here, and that’s how we raise the cattle, too. They’re docile enough that the grandkids can walk to right up them.”
The Red Angus herd at the Hoft ranch grazes all throughout the year on native prairie grass, and rotates through a variety of nutritious, sustainable forages the family grows themselves, like triticale and turnips.
Rick Pflughoeft explains,
“Cattle ranching is a job of passion and love, because it’s not easy -- that’s for sure. My great, great-grandfather lived in a home-dug cave when they homesteaded in Kansas. Their hands were in the soil, and ours continue to be.”
Rick and Lois Pflughoeft were kind enough to share some of their family recipes with us, that they use to make the most of their own beef.
Pflughoeft Smoked Short Ribs
Note: These take about 5 hours from from start to supper plate. Each rib had about 1/4 pound or more of meat on it. Short Ribs are overlooked and are a Good Eat.
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.