We ate the first steaks a few days ago. The steaks were labelled ‘rib steaks’ and appeared to be basic rib eye steaks with the bone still attached. Quite honestly, I thought this entry would be a defense of grassfed steaks even though they are tougher and not-quite-as-flavorful as cornfed steaks, something along the lines of, “Yeah, they’re tough but just think of the health benefits! Tough and not-quite-as-flavorful is good, and I helped a local farmer!”.
Thank you, Pollyanna.
Tough and not-quite-as-flavorful has been my experience with the grassfed steaks purchased at my local and beloved organic/local foods grocery store. The steaks we ate the other night – the steaks from our cow – were delicious: tender and every bit as flavorful as comparable cornfed steaks.
I think there are two factors accounting for this pleasant surprise, the first being the thickness of the steaks. I ordered our steaks cut 1″ thick, which is substantially thicker than the grassfed steaks purchased from the store. The thicker cut allowed me to cook the steaks to medium-rare without drying them out.
The second factor was some good cooking advice I got from an old friend on Facebook: bring the steaks to room temperature, brush them with some olive oil and pepper, hold the salt until just before cooking. The weather was nice and I planned to cook on the grill but got home from work later than planned and decided the heck with it, where’s that trusty old castiron skillet?
I pre-heated the oven to 450 degrees, then pre-heated the castiron skillet to medium-high (the 7 setting on my electric range) with just a little olive oil in the skillet, seared one side of the steaks – already basted with some olive oil and pepper, adding the salt just before dropping them in the skillet – in the skillet for about 4 1/2 minutes, flipped the steaks and immediately put the skillet in the hot oven for another 4 1/2 – 5 minutes. I pulled the skillet out of the oven and used an instant-read meat thermometer to confirm that the internal temperature of the steaks was right around 125 degrees, then let the steaks rest on a cutting board for about 7 minutes before slicing and serving.
Next up: smoked brisket on Wednesday, weather permitting. I have the day off from work and will be able to devote the afternoon to tending the coals and feeding the chunks of wood necessary to produce smoke into the grill.
Even thicker? It appears that your one-inchers were delicious. And, an inch certainly is thicker than what we usually see in supermarkets. But, think of good restaurant steaks! Often even thicker.
When you get the second quarter of that cow, will you maybe get some two-inchers? Two-inchers might be great with your nifty cooking method. How about truly rare steaks? It seems you could extend your toughness test with thicker, rarer steaks.
Finally, which quarter of that bovine did you buy? Fore or hind? Left or right? If hind, did you get half the tail? If fore, did you get half the brain? Is the logical left brain tastier than the intuitive right brain? Inquiring minds want to know.
Really fresh Ethiopian Grass-Fed Beef! A traveler in Ethiopia once saw Ethiopians wrangle a cow, and slice a steak out of her haunch, and then patch up the wound with mud, and let the cow go back to her herd. After that, as I recall, they ate that steak raw.
Alan Moorehead reports this story in his wonderful 1962 book The Blue Nile (republished 2000). I do not have the book here. My copy (given to me by my mother) is in a box in my storage unit. Otherwise, I would quote the story. Maybe somebody out there has the book, and can find the passage for us. It appears in the first 50 or so pages.
A link to a little New York Times Magazine article about people who shared a cut-up steer: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/magazine/10cowshare.html?hpw
I hope this link works. It is not showing up linky-blue in my e-mail here. It is titled “Cowmunity,” author Kim Severson.