To maximize the taste and texture of your grass fed and pasture raised meat, forget everything you know about cooking traditional meat. Then sit back and enjoy a truly delicious, nutritious meal – straight from our farm to your table. In A General Guide to Roasting: Part 1 we gave you a no-muss, no-fuss way to cook a roast and get it on the table.
Part 2: Deconstructing Roast Cuts
We’re breaking down the relationship between the roast cut and the appropriate cooking technique so you can fly free in the roasting world. Because the more you know about cooking delicious roasts, the easier it is for you to make yummy, healthy meals for your family.
Roast, noun: a piece of meat that is roasted.(1)
Oh roasts, you’re so ironic! Sure, some roasts can be… roasted, i.e. dry-heat in the oven. But what many people, including our friends at Merriam-Webster, don’t realize is that some roast cuts are better suited to braising and stewing with liquid. Let’s break it down in Farmer Girl speak:
1.) Roast – Dry (i.e. no liquid), higher heat, less time, rare to medium-rare.
2.) Braise – Kinda Wet (~1/3 to ½ immersed in liquid), low heat, long time, beyond well-done.
3.) Stew – Mucho Wet (fully submersed chunks), low heat, long time, beyond well-done.
All About Roasting Cuts, and Grass Fed Beef
So how do you know which cooking method is best for which cut? Just ask yourself: how tough and lean is my cut? The answer will be revealed! First, let’s decode what it really means when a piece of meat is called tough.
In sciency-speak, meat is tough if it contains a lot of collagen, or connective tissue. The more a muscle is exercised, the more collagen is created. And since grass fed beef are raised on a wide-open prairie, and not confined to an itty-bitty feedlot, they get lots and lots of exercise. (Yes – in the cattle world, they’re feeling the burn as they graze all day long. Aren’t steers lucky?)
The great news is that, when the collagen heats up to 140-160º for an extended period of time, it slowly unwinds and becomes soft. So, with enough time and liquid, your “tough” grass fed beef roast will become the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth grass-fed roast around. You’ll know its ready when the beef falls apart underneath your fork. This is the stuff deliciousness is made of folks!
Braising & Stewing Cuts
The roasts that have the most collagen are cuts that come from the muscular legs, chest, and shoulders of the steer. We fondly call them the “tough as nails” cuts: Chuck Roast, Arm Roast, Short Ribs, Brisket, Oxtail, Shank, and Rump Roast among others. You’ll need to cook these roasts “low and slow,” to give the collagen time to unwind. Which also means you’ll want to add liquid to keep the roast from drying out.
You can either braise your roast in a little liquid, or make a splashy stew by cutting it up into sumptuous little chunks and immersing the whole shebang in liquid.
The cuts with the least collagen are the most tender roasts and come from the roly-poly middle: Tenderloin Roast and Rib Roast. See how this works now?
These lovelies are what we like to call high-heat oven roasting cuts, perfectly enjoyed rare or medium-rare. They can be dry-roasted (oven) or grilled over a high heat (think 350 to 400 degrees) for a relatively short period of time, with no need for added liquid–because they don’t have all that pesky collagen!
All The Above Cuts
And between the high collagen and low collagen world, you’ll find our firm, medium-collagen cuts from the rump and upper thigh area of the steer: sirloin roast, sirloin tip roast, tri-tip roast, and eye of round roast, to name a few. These guys are unique–they sit smack in the middle of tough as nails and our roly-poly tender. They’re perfect for classic dry oven roasting, at a low-heat. But these versatile guys can also be braised.
Low-heat roasting means less intense heat (300 to 350 degrees) than the traditional roly-poly cuts mentioned above, with a juicy rare to medium-rare finish. Braising or stewing these guys means low and slow with a bit of liquid, but they will become fork-tender in less time than the tough-as-nails cuts.
What do we mean by lean? Isn’t all grass-fed beef lean?
Why yes it is! Grass fed beef is naturally much more lean because it comes from animals that roam the wide-open plains. That’s a good thing folks! But some cuts are leaner than others–they’re super-lean.
Super-lean beef roasting cuts, like a tenderloin or rib roast, get their robust flavor from the clean, healthy grass the cattle eat, not fat. It’s important not to over-cook these delicate cuts. Think of them like a lean fish filet or chicken breast – tastier when cooked quickly.
Now that you know all about the roast cuts, don’t miss a word in our fabulously informative and entertaining Farmer Girl Cooks Roasts series, Part 3: Deconstructing Roasting. It all comes down to this. We discuss the 5 factors you should consider about when cooking a roast. No, the wine you drink while cooking it isn’t one of the factors. But it should be. We’ll work on that.
Farmer Girl Meats Roasts
Our roasts (and all of our grass fed & pasture raised meats) are lower in fat and higher in protein and Omega 3s than conventionally raised grocery store meat. We never, ever add any yucky artificial juices, solutions, or fillers. Farmer Girl cattle, sheep, hogs and chickens are grass-fed and pasture-raised. They spend their days grazing on native prairie grasses, enjoying fresh air and exercise. This makes Farmer Girl meat much leaner than conventional meat, and sometime even leaner than other farms’ grass-fed cuts.