CHOOSING THE RIGHT BEEF CUT: A Meat Map - Part 2


WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT WHAT PART OF THE ANIMAL MY CUT COMES FROM?

Three reasons:

1) In general, the muscles that the steer uses to get around are more exercised and are usually tougher. Conversely, the least-used locomotive muscles are the tenderest. You’ll be able to see that when you look at the map and see where the tenderloin is (think filet mignon).

2) When you know what part the cuts come from, you’ll also understand better about the price.

3) You now have one more way to impress your friends.

On the meat map below, I’ve included the most popular names you’d recognize and that most people use in their everyday cooking. There are some cuts that have many names, depending on where you live, so you might know some of these by a different name.

And where do they get some of those names, anyway??

It’s pretty easy to tell where a rump roast comes from, but what about a chuck roast? Or the brisket?

THE MEAT MAP

Meat Map-1.jpg

In general, the cuts from the parts of the animal that don’t get used for walking are going to be the most tender. Looking at our guy above, the back is where you’ll find the most tender, hence the most expensive, cuts.

Steaks: from most tender (and $$$) to lesser:

  • Filet mignon

  • Rib eye steak

  • KC strip (sometimes called NY strip)

  • Sirloin steak


HOWEVER….counter-intuitively, the most flavorful cuts come from the most-worked parts of the animal, so there’s a trade-off between flavor and tenderness.

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you know I’m suspicious that I didn’t inherit the meat cooking gene from my mom and grandmothers. I can’t tell you how many times I was frustrated in my early years of cooking grass-fed beef because I may have just as well sent the kids outside with the roast to play football after the meal. It was that tough.

These days, I know that grass-fed beef has to be cooked using lower and slower temps than conventional beef. There is usually less marbling within the meat fibers due to no grain being fed, so if you cook it too hot, those fibers will shrink rapidly and become tough. Voila — a football.

Here’s a very helpful quote about this from one of my favorite meat cookbooks, Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat by James Beard Award-winning chef, Deborah Krasner:

Cooking grass-fed beef is different from cooking corn-finished beef because it has less fat and less marbling (which insulate and help keep the juices in the meat); grass-fed beef toughens much more rapidly and requires more careful cooking. That means it’s essential, when roasting, to rely on a thermometer rather than timing to ensure that you don’t overcook the meat, and to avoid salty or soy sauce-based (liquid) marinades when preparing dishes. Instead, choose spice rubs or marinades that are oil- and herb-based, and plan to serve all fast-cooked cuts medium-rare. Watch braises and stews to make sure that they cook at an extremely low temperature to break down the meat rather than toughen it. Such careful cooking guarantees complex and satisfying beefy flavors, with good mouthfeel and textures.

You see that thing she said about the thermometer?

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO NOTE.

You must cook grass-fed beef LOW AND SLOW. You can’t haul off and throw it in a hot pan or on the hottest part of the grill or at the ‘normal’ oven temp of 350. This is how to create a shriveled-up football.

Even when you’re not roasting which is where you’d use the meat thermometer, this rule applies. Turn down the heat, and you’ll probably need shorter cooking times, too. I will go into more details in future posts on specifics for different cuts and cooking methods.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE EACH CUT?

Once you’ve selected a cut, you need to know what type of preparation will bring out the best flavor and tenderness.

Here’s a list of some handy meat cooking terms courtesy of Prestons Master Butchers and The University of Minnesota Duluth websites:

  • Bake — To cook by dry heat, usually in the oven.

  • Braise — A method of cooking in which very little liquid is used and the food is cooked over several hours in a sealed pan. Tougher cuts of meat are better prepared this way. 

  • Broil — To cook on a grill under strong, direct heat.

  • Marinate — To flavor and moisturize pieces of meat, poultry, seafood or vegetable by soaking them in or brushing them with a liquid mixture of seasonings known as a marinade. Dry marinade mixtures composed of salt, pepper, herbs or spices may also be rubbed into meat, poultry or seafood.

  • Pan-Broil — To cook uncovered in a hot fry pan, pouring off fat as it accumulates. (And, frankly, there are hardly any grass-fed cuts I’d recommend pan-broiling.)

  • Pot Roasting — A cooking method by which moist heat slow cooks the food after first being browned in butter or some other fat, and then covered and transferred to the oven. 

  • Roasting — The cooking of meats, fish, poultry, or game by exposing them to the heat of an open flame, over a grill, or the radiant heat of an oven. 

  • Simmer — To cook slowly in liquid over low heat at a temperature of about 180°. The surface of the liquid should be barely moving, broken from time to time by slowly rising bubbles.

  • Stew — A method of cooking by which meat and/or vegetables are barely covered by a liquid and allowed to cook for a substantial period of time. 

And don’t forget good old Pressure Cooking. With today’s twist called the Instant Pot, so many tougher cuts can be reduced to fork-tender ‘where-have-you-been-all-my-life’ culinary experiences.


I hope this little manual helps make you more comfortable in knowing how to choose just the right cut and what method to use for that next family meal.

Leave a comment down below and let me know if this was helpful. I’d love to hear any tips you have, too, for cooking Pasture Nectar grass-fed beef. Some of our customers are great meat cooks!










4 Yummy Holiday Recipes To Make With Milk: A Collaboration with Askinosie Chocolate

It’s Christmastime…

And that means we’re turning to indoor activities and cozy evenings. With colder weather, we’d like to feel snuggly and warm. We start making stews and soups and hot drinks.

With the holidays approaching, things get busy. Sometimes you might have extra milk because you’re so busy running to concerts, practices, and shopping for gifts that you’re just not there to drink it.

Here are some fun warm and holiday things you can do with Pasture Nectar milk, whether you have too much or not.

Our customer Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate fame has graciously allowed me to share some hot cocoa recipes with you, including his personal favorite. Marrying Pasture Nectar Farm milk and Askinosie chocolate makes for one sweet cup of delicious winter warmth! Of course, you have to heat the milk which means it’s not raw anymore, but you have to do what you have to do. Just don’t boil it!


Photo by  Alisa Anton  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

HOT COCOA - Better and Best

The cocoa recipes are adapted from Reina Leber of Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, MI:

Better Than Average
Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Askinosie Cocoa Powder
10 oz hot Pasture Nectar Farm milk (160 degrees. Do not boil) 2 tbsp. sugar

Directions:
Mix the cocoa powder and sugar. Slowly stir or whisk in the hot milk. Makes 2–6 servings.

The Best
Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Askinosie Cocoa Powder 6 oz Pasture Nectar Farm milk (160 degrees. Do not boil)                            2 tbsp. Demerara sugar ( OR 1 tbsp. white sugar, 1 tbsp. brown sugar)
1 pinch sea salt

Directions:
Mix the cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Slowly stir or whisk in the hot milk. Makes 2 servings.

2. Shawn’s Personal Favorite Hot Cocoa

This from Mr. Chocolate himself:

“My personal recipe for one large mug:

 

-- Pasture Nectar Farm milk :)

-- whisk until warm

-- add 2 heaping tsp of our natural cocoa powder [we were the first in the US to make it small batch]

-- add 3 squares of any of our dark chocolate bar that I have on hand (Kathy's note: try one of their brand-new Dark Chocolate Peppermint bars. Oh, mercy!)

-- now that it's hot I whisk the you know what out of it to really build the body up; sometimes if I am being lazy I will use a home immersion stick blender

-- dash of sea salt

that is it

you notice - no sugar added - why? Because of the flavor of the milk and the actual chocolate which has some bit of sugar in it

that is just my personal fav

 

Shawn”

3. Eggnog from Scratch

You’ll wow your family and friends when you make this easy eggnog recipe for the holidays (or anytime). You will definitely be able to tell this is NOT store-bought eggnog. Made at home with love!

Recipe adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch

Makes about 3.5 cups

Ingredients:

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups Pasture Nectar Farm milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream (from the farm if you can get it)

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

ground cinnamon, for topping

Instructions:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy.

  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir often until mixture reaches a bare simmer. 

  3. Add a big spoonful of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Repeat, adding a big spoonful at a time, to temper the eggs. 

  4. Once most of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove. 

  5. Whisk constantly for just a few minutes, until the mixture is just slightly thickened (or until it reaches about 160 degrees F on a thermometer). It will thicken more as it cools.

  6. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

  7. Optional: to use the egg whites in this recipe, rinse the yolk residue out of your mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into the eggnog. Or use them in a different recipe.

  8. Pour the eggnog into container of choice and cover with plastic wrap. 

  9. Refrigerate until chilled. It will thicken as it cools. If you want a thinner, completely smooth consistency, you can add the entire mixture to a blender with 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk and blend until smooth.

  10. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and fresh whipped cream, if desired.

  11. Store homemade eggnog in the fridge for up to one week.

Hey, where’s the Askinosie in the eggnog?

Oh. You were paying attention.

Good for you! That’s how you keep your farmers on their toes.

BONUS TWEAK:

Make whipped cream (use Pasture Nectar cream if you can get your hands on some), dollop some on the top of the eggnog (or the hot cocoa), and finish off with a few grates of any Askinosie chocolate bar.

WITH A TWIST:

Substitute 1/2 t. peppermint extract for the vanilla extract in the eggnog recipe, and grate some chocolate into the eggnog while cooking for a delicious peppermint patty variation. Garnish with small candy canes.

HOW ABOUT THIS?

Add rum extract instead of the vanilla extract, or keep the vanilla extract in and add 1 T. of a high-proof alcohol. Brandy and rum are traditional favorites. I’ve seen recipes that call for as much as 1.5 CUPS of alcohol for this recipe. I’d start with 1 T. and go from there.

4. HOLIDAY PEPPERMINT PUNCH

For a fun party drink all ages can enjoy, put peppermint ice cream in a punch bowl and pour eggnog over it. Pour Sprite over all. You can decorate the sides of the bowl with candy cane stir sticks for a fun look.


Have tons of fun making and enjoying these drinks with your family and friends this holiday season and throughout the winter. Actually, if you have milk, cream, eggs and sugar on hand (and Askinosie chocolate), you can enjoy eggnog and hot cocoa any time of year.

Thanks again to Shawn and the team at Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield.

Disclaimer: the farm doesn’t get anything from Askinosie for promoting their products; just one small business helping another, and keeping food production (and consumption) local, except for the cocoa beans. Shawn is able to help many hard-working folks in other countries get more than a fair price for their goods with his Direct Trade program. Love this!

If you go off to look at Askinosie Chocolate, don’t forget to come back here and make these yummy drinks. I’d love to hear how they turned out for you, and any tweaks you decided to try.

Cheers!

CHOOSING THE RIGHT BEEF CUT: A Meat Map - Part 1

Are you confused about what cuts come from where on a beef?

Did you ever think about buying a cut and didn’t because you didn’t know what to do with it?

Did you decide not to take the plunge and buy that half or quarter beef because you were too intimidated by having to tell the butcher how to cut it for you?

Problems solved!

I want to help you alleviate all that frustration. I’m going to create a series of posts that will take the mystery out of this beefy subject and break it down into edible parts.

I love puns.

Today I’m going to talk about the sections of a beef. I made this handy chart to give you a visual.

Beef Cut Chart Handmade.jpg

When you’re a butcher, this is what you see when you lay eyes on a steer out in the field — yes, lines and all.

Unless you see this:

Dinosaur meat chart.jpg

Then you should run.

Since we’re talking about the whole animal today, let’s learn a little about buying a beef in bulk:

  • Half Beef - this is also called a ‘side’ of beef. If you were looking down on the top of the steer, draw an imaginary line down the middle from head to tail. A half is the entire right or left side.

  • Quarter Beef - this is also called a ‘split half’. Using the above view, a quarter is not the front half or back half of a side. A quarter is a side of beef all mixed together and divided in half. So…you get a mix of cuts from the head to the tail (but only half the cuts from a side of beef). I hope that makes sense.

Why would I want to buy beef in bulk?

There are lots of good reasons!

  • You save money over buying cuts one at a time

  • You can make dinner right out of your freezer — no more last-minute runs to the store

  • It’s comforting to know you have food stored

  • The convenience is fantastic

Calling the butcher can be a scary thing when you’ve never done it before. Our butcher is a gem! He raises dinosau…..buffalo, so he knows grass-fed meat. He will answer all of your questions. Just tell him you’re a newbie, and he’ll give you extra help.

He will take you through each section of the beef and ask you things, such as:

  • steaks or roasts (many cuts can be sliced into steaks or kept as a roast)

  • how many steaks per package (he’ll tell you what’s normal)

  • how thick do you want your steaks (we like to make them 1-1/4 inches thick)

  • how many pounds of ground beef per package

  • bone-in or boneless

  • short ribs or grind (make into hamburger)

  • T-bones or divide into filet mignon and KC strips (yep, the T-bone is really the filet and the KC strip (sometimes called a NY strip) with a bone holding them together)

  • stew meat or grind

  • do you want bones (you should always say ‘yes’ and sign up for my bone broth article on the website — so essential for health, and helps you get your money’s worth, too)

I hope this will help take some of the anxiety out of knowing where all those cuts come from, and buying beef in bulk.

Next time, we’ll talk about what cuts come from which spot on the steer. I will add some arrows to the beefy guy in the picture above and tell you what cuts come from what section (and why you should care).

Speaking of bulk beef, it’s almost time for our fall processing. You can click HERE to send us an email to let us know you’re interested, and we’ll send you the particulars.

Our goal is to eliminate ‘mystery meat’ from our customers’ vocabulary!

BUG OUT? PASTURE NECTAR FARM'S SECRET WEAPON

When you come out to the farm, you walk into the bottling room, then into the room where the cows get milked. Did you ever wonder what goes on behind the dairy building? Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek of something that happens each morning during the summer months.

In case you haven't seen it on Facebook, this is a video of a new secret weapon we're using on our farm to keep our cows happier and your milk safer. I'm betting you didn't even know such a thing existed. I know I didn't. 

When my sister saw it, she said she wished she could have one for the mosquitoes where she lives. She said she’d walk through it all day long.

The cows spend tons of energy swishing flies…you know how you are when you’re outside and the pests are bugging you, right? When the cows are swishing and licking and stomping, they’re using those calories for something other than making milk.

Flies also carry disease and can bite the udders which can cause mastitis. Not fun for the cows or the farmers who have to deal with it.

We don’t want to use chemical means to run these varmints off, so Eric researched a different solution. This one cost a lot of money, but you have to weigh the cost of milk loss from swishing and mastitis.

Plus kids think it’s cool. 

Here’s the video of the new secret weapon!

 

We won’t be using this machine in the winter so if you want to see it in action in real life, click here to send us an email and you can come out to watch it make the flies vanish before they buzz off for the season. 

THE PUFFIEST PUFF PANCAKES EVER

Don’t let the name fool you. These pancakes love being served as dessert as well as at breakfast.

Each recipe makes 1 pie plate full. (Hog alert: we make 4 at a time, and eat almost all of them at one sitting.)

When you double, triple or even quadruple the recipe like we do, it’s a great way to use up eggs.

This is such a fun, easy recipe to make with children. Call your kids to the oven to watch the show when you open the door. It’s impressive!

20170317_111821 (360x640).jpg

 

 

o   2 T. butter

o   2 Pasture Nectar Farm eggs

o   ½ c. Pasture Nectar Farm milk

o   ½ c. all-purpose flour

o   2 T. sugar

o   1/8 t. cinnamon (we leave this out)

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the butter in a 9-inch pie plate, and put it in the pre-heated oven for 4 to 5 minutes until melted.

In the meantime, whisk together the eggs and milk in a bowl.

In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar (and the cinnamon if you’re using it). Whisk in the egg mixture until smooth.

Pour into the pie plate, and bake for 18-22 minutes or until the sides are crispy and golden brown.

Get everyone at the oven when you open it because when the cool air hits them, they’ll start to shrink.

 

You can serve this with a fruit sauce. You could even experiment with cutting back on the sugar and using a fruit spread or honey as the sweetener. I think this would be terrific with ice cream. Enjoy!

 

-        This recipe adapted from the Taste of Home Breakfast Cookbook, 2009.

FIT FOR A KING POT ROAST

Have you ever had that experience where you smell something, and a person or a place pops into your mind? Smells are a really good prompter of memory.  One of my favorite smell memories is walking into my grandma's kitchen when she was cooking a pot roast.

Grandma was a great cook.

Of course, it wasn't just about the good meal I knew was coming but the whole 'I love grandma's house' thing.

I'm willing to bet you've got some good grandma memories, too.

I still love a good pot roast, and we all need everyday recipes that work consistently and aren't fussy so we can spend more time with our families.

I've got one here for you....

This is a pretty simple recipe that uses grass-fed roasts which need to be braised (basically, cooked in liquid). In other words, the less expensive parts of the steer which will save you money.

I've adapted this recipe from Lynne Curry's Pure Beef cookbook (Running Press Publishers, 2012). I decided to add garlic and cooking sherry to change the flavor profile. The sauce I got was delicious! I didn't even have to make gravy; just spooned it over the shredded beef and vegetables at the table.

Now...if only I could have found a way to generate a smell that would make the multiplication tables pop right into my children's heads, I could have made a million bucks.


FIT FOR A KING POT ROAST

  • 1 (3 to 3.5 lb) boneless Pasture Nectar Farm chuck roast

  • Kosher salt, some pepper

  • 3 T. oil (preferably coconut oil or butter)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped or cut into 1/2-inch wedges

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 T. flour (your choice of gluten-free OK)

  • 3 c. beef stock with the fat if you have it (I used poultry and lamb)

  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce or organic shoyu

  • 1 t. salt

  • 1/4 t. black pepper

  • 1/2 t. dried thyme leaves (or 1 t. fresh)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/4 c. cooking sherry (the alcohol will burn off)

  • 3 large carrots, peeled

  • 2 lbs potatoes (or add other root veggies as you like such as parsnips)

Let the roast come to room temp for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Pat the roast dry and season both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Melt the oil in a large Dutch oven or oven-ready pot over medium-high heat, and sear the roast on both sides when the oil starts to shimmer. This gives another depth of flavor to your finished meal.

20170316_165446 (360x640).jpg

Give each side about 4 or 5 minutes at least. You want a nice deep brown color but you don't want to cook the meat inside very far.

When seared, remove the roast to a plate. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes or so. Now add your flour and stir until it's absorbed.

Stir in the stock and Worcestershire or shoyu sauce. Use your spoon to scrape those yummy browned bits off the bottom of your pan for added flavor.

When it comes to a boil, add the salt, pepper, thyme, cooking sherry and bay leaves along with the beef plus the juices from the plate it was on. Don't waste any of that good taste!

Cover the pot with a good-fitting lid and put it in the oven for 2-1/2 hours.

Cut your vegetables as you like (I like to cut the potatoes into 1- or 2-inch pieces, and the carrots into 1 inch pieces, and slice the small ends. I think smaller pieces take up the flavor of the sauce better without giving you that 'pot roast vegetable' taste; you do remember that taste, right?)

Turn the roast over and put the vegetables in the liquid around the meat. Cover again, and bake for another 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beef shreds easily with a fork, and the vegetables are very tender.

20170316_212708 (360x640).jpg

See that great sauce? You can separate the natural chunks of the roast or shred it. We served it in a bowl, like stew, or you can put the meat and vegetables on a platter, and serve the sauce on the side.

Some reserved sauce over rice makes a great side dish for another meal.

We have plenty of chuck roasts in the farm store right now. Our rump and sirloin tip roasts would work, too.

Feel free to forward this to a friend, and let me know how it turns out for you!

 

Best,

Kathy