Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tips for Cooking 100% Grassfed Beef from Chef Bill Telepan and Dr. Patricia Whisnant

Interest in 100% grassfed beef is surging. Consumers are buying it not only for its superior nutritional values, but because it is humanely raised, has a smaller environmental footprint and a great, enhanced flavor. However, consumers can find that the grilling and cooking methods used for most supermarket beef aren’t appropriate for 100% grassfed beef. Grass, not grain, is the natural and proper diet for cattle and the beef is healthier for people and has a robust and natural meat flavor. Animal Welfare Approved farmer and American Grassfed Association president Dr. Patricia Whisnant and her husband Mark own a 4,000 acre ranch in the Missouri Ozarks and run the American Grass Fed Beef company. “Only in the last 40 or so years have Americans learned to accept corn fed beef as what good beef should taste like,” she says. “I truly don’t believe our ancestors would enjoy the bland, fatty taste of current grain fed beef. From the standpoint of the animal, it is not healthier, either.”

Chef Bill Telepan, owner of Manhattan’s award winning Telepan Restaurant, makes a burger topped with a “volcano” of onion rings and french fry “lava” that has been consistently voted as one of the best burgers in New York City. His signature burger will now be made with 100% grassfed Animal Welfare Approved beef from American Grass Fed Beef. “Grassfed beef has an undeserved reputation for being tough,” he says. “Home cooks shouldn’t be intimidated. We think grassfed beef has a great, deep beef flavor and it’s a great vehicle for burgers with bacon and cheese. I recommend using 80% chuck—it contains enough moisture and fat to make delicious burgers.”

Telepan and Whisnant say that following a few simple steps will produce tender and juicy burgers and steaks, so fire up the grill and enjoy!

· Thaw the meat in the refrigerator or bowl of cool (not warm) water. Microwave defrosting is not recommended for grassfed beef.
· Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.
· The less heat, the better. Overcooking is grassfed beef’s biggest foe. If you’re using a recipe that doesn’t specify grassfed beef, lower the recommended temperature by 50 degrees.
· Less cooking time. Grassfed beef (even at lower temperatures) requires about 30% less cooking time than grain finished beef.
· Make it rare to medium. Grassfed beef is best if it’s cooked rare to medium. Use a thermometer to check doneness. Here’s a list of recommended final temperatures: 120 degrees for rare; 125 to 135 degrees for medium rare to medium well; 140 degrees for well.
· Use tongs instead of a fork. Punching holes in the meat with a fork will let out precious juices.
· Let the meat rest for at least ten minutes. Telepan says it’s best to cook burgers ahead of time, let them sit and then slowly reheat to retain the most juice.
· Go high, then low, for an excellent crust on steak. Telepan begins by grilling 100% grassfed beef steaks on a high temperature to achieve good grill marks and a great crust and then transferring to a low temperature to finish. “After you have good grill marks, move the steak to a cooler spot on the grill. You’ll get a good crust and a juicy steak.”

Chef Bill Telepan’s Seasoning Tips for Grassfed Burgers

Basic Seasoning: Add 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper per pound of meat. You can do this one day in advance, especially if you grind your own chuck.

For a burger with a little more kick, add the following to the basic seasoning: ¼ teaspoon cayenne, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.

Top with caramelized onions, bacon and cheddar for a truly decadent treat that is healthier, humane, and more environmentally responsible than grain finished beef.

Animal Welfare Approved is the one independent food label that means healthy, safe, environmentally responsible and humanely raised. The program certifies family farmers who raise their animals with high welfare, and was recently lauded by the World Society for the Protection of Animals as having the highest animal welfare standards of any third party certifier in the US. Animal Welfare Approved is "setting the standard for how farm animals should be taken care of," according to Robert. F. Kennedy, Jr. When you can’t visit the farm, Animal Welfare Approved is the eyes and ears of the conscientious consumer.

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