Grass-Fed Beef

By  BARRY ESTABROOK | PHOTOS BY CANDICE VIVIEN

I lost my appetite for mass-produced, grain-fed beef about a decade ago while speeding along Interstate 5 in California’s Central Valley on a cloudy winter afternoon. My epiphany came as I passed a feedlot. Occupying more than a square mile, the complex of fences and feed troughs could accommodate up to a quarter of a million cattle. They spent the last months of their lives in fetid conditions jammed together shoulder-to-shoulder on top of their own excrement and, depending on the season, goopy mud or a haze of thick brownish dust. I could not see a single blade of grass. Most memorable, however, was the putrid sulfurous stench. It somehow seeped in through the closed window of my car miles before I passed the feedlot and lingered long afterward.

I didn’t want that memory to come between me and my grilled sirloins, so I switched almost exclusively to the meat of grass-fed cattle, who live their entire lives grazing on open pasture, as cows are meant to do. In part, I made the change for reasons of animal welfare, but I have learned that going grass-fed also contributed to my own welfare.

A few years ago, I joined about 100 farmers, chefs, and academics at a conference that convinced me of the healthful benefits of grass-fed beef at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture just north of New York City for the release of a detailed report on grass-fed beef titled “Back to Grass.” Citing many studies, the report’s authors concluded, “Pasture-raised, grass-fed beef is healthier than conventional grain-finished, especially when grass-fed cattle have access to healthy, ample, and diverse pasture.”

For starters, grass-fed beef contains less than half the total fat per serving of grain-fed, according to an analysis undertaken by Susan Duckett of Clemson University, and contains far higher percentages of so-called “good” fats. Although grass-fed and grain-fed meat contain the same amounts of saturated fat, which the American Heart Association says should be restricted because it can increase cholesterol levels in the blood, not all saturated fats have the same impact. Studies show that grain-finished beef has much more myristic and palmitic fatty acids, both of which raise cholesterol. Grass-fed is higher in stearic acid, which does not raise cholesterol levels.

An extensive review led by Cynthia Daley of the University of California Chico published in Nutrition Journal in 2010 reported that research spanning three decades consistently suggests that “grass-only diets can significantly alter the fatty composition and improve the overall antioxidant content of beef.” Antioxidants prevent damage to cells.

She went on to conclude, “Regardless of the genetic makeup gender, age, species, or geographic location [of cattle] direct contrasts between grass and grain rations consistently demonstrate significant differences in the overall fatty acid profile and antioxidant content found in their lipid deposits and body tissues.”

Like many, I take a daily supplement of fish oil to make sure I’m getting adequate amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which tend to be lacking in the typical North American diet. But research indicates that I would almost certainly be better off skipping the pills and getting my omega-3s from a well-balanced diet, including fatty fish and, as it turns out, grass-fed beef.

According to Daley, omega-3 acids can play a crucial role in preventing heart disease, arthritis, hardening of the arteries, and cancer. They even lower the incidence of depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease. Grass-fed beef contains higher concentrations of omega-3 acids than grain-fed.

Cattle are designed to eat grasses, not grain. Putting them in a feedlot with a diet of grain raises the acidity of their digestive systems, which reduces the production of compounds called conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) by a factor of three, compared to production in animals that eat lush green grass. Numerous animal studies have shown that CLAs can prevent cancers and hardening of the arteries, as well as slow the onset of type-2 diabetes. Some research indicates that CLAs might even help obese humans lose body fat.

Grass-fed beef is also packed with vitamins. Beta-carotenes are precursors to vitamin A, which is important for good vision, bone growth, healthy skin and mucous membranes, and immune function. In a 2005 article in the journal Meat Science, a group of Argentinian researchers led by Adriana Descalzo reported that grass-fed beef delivered fully seven times as much beta-carotene as grain-finished. Similarly, grass-fed beef was found to contain nearly three times as much vitamin E, which protects against heart disease and cancer.

As you can imagine, cramming cattle together by the tens, or even hundreds, of thousands on vast feedlots and forcing them to eat an unnatural diet of grain leaves them susceptible to a range of pathogens—some of which might land on your countertop and plate.

To keep animals in their care from getting sick, three quarters of large feedlot operators routinely feed antibiotics to their cattle, even those that are perfectly healthy, “as a health and production management tool,” in the words of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This practice creates ideal conditions for the development of antibiotic-resistant germs, which some of the most potent drugs in the modern medical arsenal cannot destroy—so-called superbugs.

The acidic conditions in the guts of grain-fed cattle not only hamper production of beneficial fatty acids, but make the animals perfect incubators for E. coli 0157:H7, a bacterium that has evolved to tolerate the acidity of our own stomachs. Although it does not sicken cattle, resistant E. coli from feedlots can spread to humans, either on meat brought home from the store or via contaminated air and water. The result is one of the most worrisome foodborne diseases in the country. E. coli infections can cause nausea, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and in some cases lead to a long, lingering death, not a great ad for one of Americans’ favorite meats.

In its 2015 “Beef Report,” Consumer Reports revealed that laboratory-tested samples of beef produced on feedlots were twice as likely as sustainably produced samples to carry bacteria resistant to two or more classes of antibiotics. Three different strains of MRSA, a potentially fatal, drug-resistant Staphylococcus bacterium, were found on conventional meat; none on sustainably produced cuts. Overall, grass-fed specimens had a three times lower likelihood of carrying any resistant bacteria compared to conventional.

As Frederick Provenza of Utah State University reported in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, “Animals foraging on phytochemically diverse pastures require less anthelmintics [drugs that kill parasites] and antibiotics than animals foraging on monoculture pastures or in feedlots.” In short, pastured cows are healthier than those stuffed with grain. Every month or so my wife and I indulge in a proudly all-American dinner. The menu consists of a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a buttermilk-based blue cheese dressing, oven-baked potato wedges, and hamburgers. It’s thoroughly retro in every way but one: The burgers are made from American-raised grass-fed beef. It’s nice to know that the meat contains only 10 percent fat. And since we tend to err on the rare side when we grill burgers, we like the security of knowing that the patties between the buns are very unlikely to come with a side order of pathogens.

But in the end, what keeps us coming back is the flavor: tangy, moist, and deliciously beefy. Perfect, when all you want is a burger that is truly good—in all respects.

 

Visit our friends @ https://panoramameats.com/ for more info on things like who is raising the beef, how they are raised and product availabe.

 

Chili Brew

An original recipe from Chef William Cornelius & Buehler’s Fresh Foods.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Lb. ground sirloin beef
  • 2 Tbsp. Canola oil, divided
  • 1 Lb. cooked bratwurst links, large dice
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. Minced garlic
  • 1, 12 oz. bottle beer
  • 1, 28 oz. can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1, 14 oz. can mild green chilies, undrained
  • 1, 16 oz. can chili beans, undrained
  • 1, 16oz. Can black beans, drained
  • 1, 14 ¾ oz. can cream-style corn
  • 1, 14 ¾ oz. can whole kernel corn
  • 1, 8 oz. can pickled jalapenos
  • 1, 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. beef base
  • ¼ C. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. Smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. Each: celery salt,  granulated onion, black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
  • shredded cheddar
  • sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a Dutch Oven over a medium heat, brown the ground sirloin in 1 Tbsp. olive oil.

2. Add the bratwurst, white & red onion, bell peppers, minced garlic, and remaining oil to the pan; cook and stir over medium heat until sausage begins to brown.  Add beer. Turn heat to high and stir in the tomatoes, beans, creamed and whole kernel corn, jalapenos, roasted red peppers, sugar, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, roasted red pepper, cilantro, celery salt, granulated onion, granulated garlic, black pepper.

3. Bring to a boil then add beef base and lime juice.

4. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until heated through, 25 – 30 minutes.  Serve with shredded cheddar, sour cream or any of your favorite toppings!

 

Po – Tacos

An original recipe from Chef William Cornelius & Buehler’s Fresh Foods

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 lg. onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Lbs. ground sirloin beef (90% lean)
  • 2 pks. taco seasoning
  • 12 oz. beer
  • 1 Tbsp. beef base
  • 6-8 hot baked potatoes
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 Lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ C. chopped green onion
  • 12 oz. salsa
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • shredded iceberg lettuce

For The Potatoes:

  • Preheat oven to 400F.  Using a fork, poke holes in the potatoes.  Using as many pieces of foil as you have potatoes, spray each piece with non-stick spray.  Salt the foil then wrap each potato and bake for 1 hour.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large saute pan, saute onion & garlic until translucent then add in the ground sirloin and brown (you won’t need to drain the 90% lean beef).

2. Add taco seasoning in the same pan the beef was cooked in along with beer and beef base.  Stir & simmer to incorporate.

3. For the fully prepared taters, prep with a sharp knife.  Cut an X in the top of each potato.  Press the ends of the potatoes toward the middle to open them up.

4. Top with cheese, taco meat, more cheese, onions, and garlic

5. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream, even guacamole would be an option.  Then you decide, go crazy!

 

Toppings

  1. Guacamole, chopped green onion, chicken/bacon/ranch, sour cream & chives, caramelized onions, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes.

 

Possibilities

  • -Sweet Potatoes with sweeter edge fillings
  • -BBQ Shredded Pork
  • -White Chicken Chili
  • -Dessert; roasted apple, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows

Juicy Lucy 6 – Packs, Sliders 6 at a time.

An original recipe from Chef William Cornelius & Buehler’s Fresh Foods

 

INGREDIENTS

Pregame on the burgers:

  • 2 ½ Lbs. ground sirloin
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. granulated onion
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 12 – 1 ½” square chunks Deli American cheese, ¼” thick
  • 6 slices Muenster cheese
  • 6 slices sharp cheddar cheese

Bacon Burger Sauce:

  • 1 C. bacon crumbles, oven baked at 400F for 6 minutes, drain on paper towel, allow to cool for 10 minutes
  • ½ C. mayonnaise
  • ½ C. Thousand Island dressing

Build Da Burgers:

  • 12 brioche slider buns/snowflake rolls
  • 3-4 large leaves of green lettuce
  • 2-3 tomatoes, sliced thin (Roma tomatoes are perfect!), need 12 slices
  • dill pickle
  • *onion jam (optional)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.  Prepare a 13×9” non-stick sheet pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground sirloin, salt, pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic, Worcestershire sauce then mix well until all ingredients are completely incorporated.  Divide the mixture in half.

3. Press half of the ground sirloin mixture into a thin layer on the sheet pan.  For first layer of cheese use the Muenster then place 12 chunks of American in place where the center of each slider would be.   Leave room around the edges to press and seal the next layer of burger.  Cover with the remaining slices of cheddar.  Press remaining beef on a sheet of parchment paper to create the rectangle.  Do this by placing another sheet atop and pressing into desired shape.  Place top burger sheet over the cheddar then seal the edges.

4. It is a good idea to put a larger sheet pan below the slider pan before you are off to the oven.   Now bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.

5. As the sheet pan burger cooks, mix together the mayonnaise, cooked bacon, and Thousand Island dressing to create the Burger Sauce then set aside.

6. Place bottom layers of slider buns on a cutting board and dress with lettuce then spread Burger Sauce on the inside of the top layer of buns.

7. When the burger is done cooking, drain off the oil.  Using a large spatula (or two) place the burger on the bottom buns.

 

Last Step For Sliders

1. Spoon a dollop of Onion Jam in the center of each slider then a slice of Roma tomato on top of the dollop.  I find it easier to cut the bottom and tops separately with a big ol’ knife.  After cutting bottoms with burger, give each slider a little room on the cutting board.  Top off your 6-Pack Juicy Lucy Sliders with a pickle topped bun using a sandwich pick to keep things together!

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Everroast chicken & hummus blt.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 loaf Ciabatta bread
  • 3 tbsp Boar’s Head Traditional Hummus
  • 4 slices Butcher Craft Extra Thick Cut Naturally Smoked Bacon, Product of Canada cooked
  • 3 leaves Romaine lettuce
  • 1 Tomato sliced
  • ¼ lb EverRoast Oven Roasted Chicken Breast sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

1. On a clean work surface, slice ciabatta loaf in half lengthwise.oF.

2. Spread Boar’s Head Traditional Hummus on the bottom half of the bread.

3. Layer remaining ingredients in the following order: Boar’s Head Thick Cut Bacon, romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, EverRoast Chicken.

4. Crown with the remaining half of bread.

5. Serve and enjoy.