Grass-fed beef is growing increasingly popular with the rise of the local and sustainable food movement. Compared to grain-fed beef, the grass-fed variety has been hailed as more eco-friendly, healthier — thanks to less of the bad fat and more omega-3s and good fat — and more humane for the cows supplying the meat.
In light of this trend, chef Francis Hogan — trained butcher and executive chef of Bluestem Brasserie, the celebrated San Francisco restaurant named after the indigenous North American grass favored by cattle ranchers — told us how to get the very best on your plate.
Named one of San Francisco’s “Best New Places to Eat” by Thrillist and ranking among Refinery 29's list of the 15 best burgers in San Francisco, Bluestem Brasserie specializes in sustainably produced grass-fed beef from California, with an emphasis on whole-animal cooking.
Grass-fed beef has less fat, so it cooks much faster. Since it's more prone to overcooking and drying out, it shouldn't be eaten beyond the rare/medium-rare range.
Searing meat on a hot surface, such as a grill or hot pan, helps lock in juices.
When cooking grain-fed beef, turn down the temperature. Slow cooking also keeps the juices in.
Introduce a fat like a garlic-herb butter or olive oil to baste the meat.
Like all meat, grass-fed beef continues to rise in temperature after cooking from the residual heat. Always allow the meat to rest before cutting into it.
Grass-fed beef retains more redness than grain-fed, which means a grass-fed "medium" will look redder than the grain-fed version, even when both have been cooked to 140 degrees.
The best way to get a steak the way you want is to describe how you want it to look instead of requesting a standard temperature (e.g., medium-rare, medium). For example, ask that it be mostly pink with a small amount of red in the center. This way, there’s no discrepancy.