When you grow up on thousands of acres of historic land overlooking mountainous vistas, grassy pastures, and rolling hills, you always find your way back home. At least, that’s the case for Jeanie Alderson of Omega Beef, who returned to the family ranch in the early 1990s after experiencing city life and travelling around the world.
Jeanie, along with her husband Terry Punt, raise purebred Wagyu on Montana’s high plains. Family owned and operated, their ranch operation abides by a traditional land ethics that honors their animals, land, water, and a strong way of life. Their herd grazes on grassy pastures and ambles happily through rolling hills in Montana’s rugged but rich grassland. With free flowing springs and two creeks weaving through the land, this ranch balances the arid climate with healthy and sustainable farming practices.
“I always loved this life,” Jeanie says. “I met my husband here and just feel really lucky that all the pieces came together once I came home. It was scary to drop everything when I wasn’t sure I would be a rancher, but I always knew I needed to keep this place whole and intact and I’m incredibly grateful that my husband loves this land and work as much as I do.”
To live and operate a ranch, they knew they would need their own herd. After Terry learned about Wagyu from a friend, the dream began. In 2004, Terry and Jeanie bought their first Wagyu cattle from Canada but the borders were closed so they couldn’t bring their cattle back to Montana and were forced to sell them. When they discovered registered Wagyu for sale nearby, Terry and Jeanie agreed that it was now or never. They took all their savings and bought the herd.
As Jeanie explains, the Wagyu herd is Terry’s vision. His passion and hard work allows the two of them to raise incredible Wagyu on Montana’s grasses, which include Idaho Fescue, Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Mountain Broam, and other native grasses. Despite the harsh northern environment and unusual grass-finishing methods, Omega Beef’s Wagyu features exquisite marbling and incredible flavor.
“We began Omega with the idea that we could combine what we know how to do - raise cattle on grass - with a breed of cattle predisposed to marbling and tenderness to raise beef that’s both healthy and delicious,” shares Jeanie. “We also wanted the hard work of caring for land and water to add value to what we produce.”
We’re thrilled to offer Jeanie and Terry’s fantastic Wagyu beef and to share their process. The quality of texture and marbling on this beef is outstanding (like all the farms we feature, we’ve tried it ourselves) and we can hardly wait for you to enjoy it!
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.