If you have the opportunity to purchase steak from multiple grass-fed sources, you may immediately notice that grass-fed steak varies tremendously in fat content and tenderness. One of the reasons is due to the seasonality of beef production, but perhaps a bigger reason for variation in “grillable-ness” is that every grass-fed beef producer is different in their philosophy and strategy for producing beef.
At Shady Grove Ranch, we’re not afraid of fat (and indeed believe it is the best part of a well-raised animal!), so we strive to raise our grass-fed cows in such a way that they are well-marbled at slaughter. Our strategy could be described as holistic, since it incorporates good management of land and animal as well as accounting for the genetic tendencies of individual animals. In simple terms, some cows fatten faster than others, so the slow-growing ones need more time before harvest to ensure that they are well-finished. We’re ok with that if it means better quality grass-fed beef.
If we have an animal that may have questionable tenderness at harvest time–reasons might include the need to cull a cow at an optimum time of year, or for older animals that are due to retire–we’ll have the steaks turned into hamburger, or just separate them so we can try them before putting them into the “for sale” stash. It is pretty rare that we have steaks that end up too tough or lean to sell to customers, but it has happened. More steak for us!
Though definitely not as “tender” as conventionally produced corn-fed steak, our grass-fed steak is excellent and could be described as tender without the mushiness that can come from corn-fed beef. As we continue to develop our beef herd, we hope to achieve more and more tenderness and marbling. The take-away from this article is that what works for one farm’s grass-fed steak may not work for another’s. Here are some tips for how to grill our grass-fed steak.
- Grass-fed Steak or Pork Chop, thawed to room temp*
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Using charcoal chimney filled with enough coals to snugly fill bottom of grill, preheat until moderate (2-3”) flames are peeping out of top. Spread hot coals evenly in grill. Replace grate and cover grill with vents wide open. Allow to preheat for several minutes.
- Distribute steaks, placing bones near hottest part of grill. Replace lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until distinct sear lines are present. Flip steaks every 2-3 minutes, repositioning as needed to compensate for hotter or cooler parts of grill. Continue to desired doneness.
- Filet—8-10 minutes total
- Strip—6-8 minutes total
- Boneless Ribeye or Sirloin—8 minutes total
- T-Bone—10-12 minutes total
- Bone-In Ribeye—12 minutes total
- Pork Chops—8-10 minutes total
- Do not allow steaks to cook to the point of becoming stiff. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes before cutting.
- *It is important not to thermally shock the meat by allowing it to be very cold or partially frozen when placed on the grill.
- Pro tip: If you plan ahead, allow the steak to "wet age" in its package in the refrigerator for several days before cooking. This is especially beneficial for ribeye and strip to ensure maximum tenderness.