How to Cook Grassfed Beef

For a flavorful pot roast, it's better to start out tough

Q: What cut of meat is best for pot roast? I've seen recipes that use top round, bottom round and chuck, but I don't know the difference between these cuts.

A: Those are all tough cuts of meat, which makes them all a good choice for pot roast. The whole point of pot roast is to take a tough cut of meat and braise it slowly in liquid until its fibers relax into tenderness and its ribbons of collagen and fat melt into the meat and make it succulent and moist.

Still, there are differences between the cuts. Top round and bottom round cuts come from the back end of the cow. The top round is very lean but tends to be more tender than the bottom round, and is often cut into steaks (which are sometimes labeled "London broil").

The bottom round, which is divided into a bottom round roast and a rump roast, is a bit tougher. Though they're labeled "roasts" they're really best when cooked with moist heat, as in braises and stews, because the cooking liquid keeps them from drying out before they get tender. They're also good choices for cutting up into stew meat because they're not heavily riddled with collagen and connective tissue. These things can make it hard to cut meat into uniform pieces, and they also take longer to break down.

Chuck roast comes from the other end of the cow -- the area around the shoulder and neck. This area also yields several tough cuts, but the cuts tend to have more fat, collagen and connective tissue, which make them the best choice for braising whole, as in pot roast (sometimes cuts from this area are actually labeled "pot roast"). As the fat and tissues break down during cooking, they give the meat a silky texture that's more noticeable in a roast than it would be if the meat was cut up for stew.

To be honest, butchery terms are very confusing for almost everyone, partly because each region, and each butcher, can have different ways of doing things. For example, cuts of meat common on the East Coast can be either nonexistent on the West Coast or given a very different name, causing no end of confusion. When in doubt, ask the staff behind the meat counter for help.

Some Quick tips on cooking your grass-fed beef

The main reason for tough grass-fed beef is overcooking. The beef usually will require 30% less cooking time and will continue to cook when removed from heat. This beef is intended for rare to medium-rare cooking. If you like well-done beef, then cook grass-fed beef at very low temperatures in a sauce to add moisture. When grilling, sear the meat quickly over a high heat on each side to seal in its natural juices and then reduce the heat to a medium or low to finish the cooking process.

Since grass-fed beef is extremely low in fat, coat with virgin olive oil, truffle oil or a favorite light oil for flavor enhancement and easy browning. The oil will also prevent drying and sticking.

Stove top cooking is great for any type of steak... including grass-fed steak! You have more control over the temperature than on the grill. You can use butter in the final minutes when the heat is low to carry the taste of fresh garlic through the meat as steak chefs do.

If roasting, reduce the temperature of your grain-fed beef recipes by 50 degrees. This usually means around 275 degrees for roasting, or at the lowest heat setting in a crock pot. The cooking time will still be the same or slightly shorter, even at the lower temperature. Again, watch your meat thermometer and don't overcook your meat. Use moisture from sauces to add to the tenderness when cooking your roast.

Also, baste to add moisture throughout the grilling process. Don't forget grass-fed beef requires 30% less cooking time so don't leave your steaks unattended.

When roasting, sear the beef to lock in the juices and then place it in a pre-heated oven. Save your leftovers... roasted grass-fed beef slices make good, healthy, luncheon meats instead of processed "lunch-meats".

We truly hope you enjoy cooking and eating grass-fed beef. If you're used to cooking conventional store bought meat, it may take a bit of time to get use to the change associated with cooking leaner meats, but we think you'll find it's well worth it.