Enough time has passed and enough new customers have joined our CSA that a review of cooking principles are in order.
There are 2 basics which dictate the differences in preparing grass-fed/free range food: your meats come from creatures that actually get exercise their entire life, so the texture of the meat will be different; and the Omega 3 fatty acids produced in grass-fed are a thinner fat and so less resistant to heat than the thicker corn-fed fat. Here are our suggested techniques to take those differences into account:
- On the cuts coming from the big lifting and support muscles of the animal, basically the legs, hips and shoulders where the beef and pork roasts come from, “low and slow” does the trick. Cooking them slowly over a low fire is the trick for tender, juicy meats. Your dutch oven or crock pot is your best approach.
- On the steak and chop cuts, which come from the middle of the animal, searing these cuts first, be that in the skillet or on the grill, is the way to start. But as soon as you have browned the meat, pull it over to a low heat and cover it to finish slowly. Add a little water, butter, oil or all three. When the meat releases its au jus, it’s ready.
- Your big fat hen can vary in degree of chewiness - they are all very active critters but some more than others. I prefer the extra texturing that a free range hen provides, but others will prefer a more tender version. If you are in the latter group, brine the chicken overnight first. Then set her in the fridge tented but not tightly wrapped until you are ready to cook. This will tenderize her.