While I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings later this week, all the talk this time of year about large holiday meals of ham and turkey has me dreaming about something very different.
A big juicy steak.
Recently I was contacted by a local food supply company, Marx Foods, and agreed to participate in a review challenge of their Grass-fed Beef New York Strip Steaks.
Their Silver Fern brand verified Black Angus beef raised in New Zealand is free range, 100% grass fed (never grain finished) and given no growth hormones.
There is a lot information out there about grass fed versus conventional (or grain fed or finished) beef, but the simplest way way to break it down is to look at the topic of marbling.
The marbling is the little specks of fat that appear throughout the meat. As the beef cooks, the fat melts and gives the meat it’s moisture, flavor and tenderness. The higher the marbling, the more tender the beef. That makes highly marbleized beef more desirable (and generally more expensive.)
Because most conventional beef is finished off with grains to fatten them up quickly in order to meet a large demand (and are also often treated with hormones or antibiotics to get them to grow bigger faster) they tend to have a higher marbling content than their grass fed counterparts.
But how they are fed is not everything – certain breeds of cattle carry their fat differently. Some carry it in layers, which is not as desirable, but Black Angus cattle beef carry their fat throughout their bodies (thus the marbling) and are bred for their high marbling content.
Black Angus cattle don’t do well in high temperatures and are best kept in places where the weather is more mild, such as New Zealand.
That is why the claim is that this beef is more marbled and flavorful than much of the grass fed beef available in the US.
I was so excited to see the Fed-Ex box arrive on my doorstep. And my eyes grew wide as I unwrapped the individually vacuum packaged frozen steaks and saw the deep red color of these two lovelies.
They looked very lean – not as much marbling or fat as I am used to seeing except for that nice strip of fat on the outside of the steak.
We seasoned them ever so lightly so as to really maximize the natural flavor of the meat and not to interfere with the taste testing process. Hubby cooked them for me on the grill. As diehards, we (and when I say “we” I mean “he”) grill year round here unless it is raining hard or below freezing.
After cooking, you may already know, it is best to let beef set-up for about five minutes before cutting into it.
This time though, those five minutes seemed like forever! I could hardly wait to tear into these babies!
The steaks really were quite delicious and had such an incredible clean, beefy flavor.
But what do I mean by clean and beefy?
Let me try and explain.
When one eats any type of meat, without really being totally aware of it, you will taste what the animal itself has eaten in its lifetime. Maybe not in a literal sense, but flavor is certainly influenced by what the animal eats.
While I didn’t taste “grass” per say, there was definitely a more earthy (“clean”) undertone to these steaks, and as these cattle eat only grass the beefy flavor (what a raw steak smells like and what you would expect the flavor to be) is allowed to shine through.
Since more fat gives the meat more flavor, I am sure also that the nice layer of fat around the edge was quite helpful in giving this steak its great complex taste.
The meat was incredibly juicy and very tender, though somewhat chewy. It was also quite dense – so rich that each of us had only a half a steak and felt full.
It is a splurge to buy grass fed, but with the added health benefits (it is lower in saturated fat as well as higher in valuable nutrients like vitamins A & E and omega-3 fatty acids), and the fact that it is more humane and better for the planet, I feel it’s worth it to try and incorporate grass fed as you can.
And these steaks would be an excellent choice!