Posts Tagged ‘grass-fed’

KONA BEEF RIBS

Posted: March 19, 2017 in beef, Food, Recipes
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m usually a pork rib guy. But recently, I bought a nice slab of grass-fed beef ribs from one of my latest favorite suppliers of beef, Slanker’s Grass-Fed Beef. (www.texasgrassfedbeef.com) They sell grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and more…with fair pricing and free shipping.

My coffee rub from an earlier blog has become my go-to way to cook a steak. So I figured, how bad could it be on beef ribs?

Any coffee will do for this rub…pick your favorite. But I had a stash of my personal favorite, Kona, at home, and used that.

ribs3

 

3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground Kona coffee
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
5 lbs. grass-fed beef ribs
Let the rubbed ribs sit for 30 minutes.

Let the rubbed ribs sit for 30 minutes.

 

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, coffee, salt, garlic, onion, and cocoa. Mix well.

Remove the skin on the underside of the ribs. I do this by sliding a knife under a corner of the skin, exposing just enough of a tab that I can grab onto. The meat can be slippery, so pulling the skin off with a folded piece of paper towel in your hands gives a better grip.

Cut the ribs into 2-rib portions. Place all the rib pieces on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Generously rub the coffee rub into all sides of the rib pieces, turning them meat-side-up, and let them sit on the baking sheet at room temperature for about a half hour, while you warm the oven up to 350 degrees.

Place the sheet pan of ribs in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the ribs from the oven, and lower the heat to 250. Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil, 2 sections per packet, and place them back on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet back in the oven and cook them for 4 more hours.

Remove the ribs from the oven and take them out of the foil, placing them back on the baking sheet and back into the 250-degree oven for 30 more minutes.

ribs2

 

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Although the name may not sound entirely appetizing, the beef flap or flap steak is a thin cut of meat that comes from the bottom sirloin butt cut, and it’s delicious when properly cooked. It’s not a skirt steak or a hanger steak, though they are similar.

I bought a beef flap from my friends at Simmons Organic Farm in Middletown, RI , and didn’t really know what I’d do with the cut until I started searching through my fridge for available ingredients. There were 2 beef flaps in the package I bought, one larger, one smaller, so I put the smaller one in a Ziploc bag with an olive oil/balsamic/garlic/onion/salt/pepper marinade, and left it to chill overnight in the fridge (what I did with it is in the next blog) while I worked on the larger, 2-lb. flap.

meat butterfly

Though long and flat, if you have a sharp knife and you work carefully, you can slice the beef lengthwise and, stopping just before you cut it into 2 separate pieces, create a nicely butterflied piece of meat. Smear some tasty ingredients on the meat, then roll it up tightly and cook it.

meat cheese

2-lb. beef flap (I like grass-fed)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped (I like Vidalias)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 strips bacon, finely chopped
4 oz. container of organic spinach and kale (or whatever greens you like)
salt and pepper
8 oz. halloum-style cheese, sliced thin (provolone works, too)

meat roll 2

Take a little of the bacon fat rendered when cooking the bacon strips, and heat it in a saute pan. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic, and sauté for a minute. Add the chopped bacon and stir. Add the spinach and kale, and let it wilt and cook down entirely until it’s soft. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.

Butterfly the beef flap, as described above. Take the cooled mixture from the pan and smear it all along there top of the beef evenly. Add the slices of cheese on top.

Tightly roll the beef into a log shape, carefully keeping the inside ingredients from squeezing out.

I pinned the log together with toothpicks my first time around, and it did okay. But I suggest tying the roll with butchers twine in several places so that the meat stays together and cooks more evenly.

meat roll

Place the log in the fridge, removing it about an hour before cooking to bring it back to room temperature.

Rub the outside of the log with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the log in a hot oven-proof pan and sear on all sides. Then place the pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven and cook until the interior temperature of the meat is around 120, about 30 minutes.

cooked beef

 

A temperature of 140 is considered to be medium-rare for beef, but I like to cook it only to 120 and then let it rest, covered with a tent of foil. It will still rise in temperature for a few minutes before it starts to cool down.

Slice carefully with a sharp knife.

For most people, grilling season is still a long way away. I’m a bit of a fanatic: I’ll use my Weber grill in the wintertime, often standing in a foot of snow while I’m carefully turning my steaks over the hardwood coals below. In the spring, I put the Weber away, and unveil my larger ceramic grill. I use it to grill or smoke anything from a great steak to a whole chicken or even a pizza.

Making a great steak isn’t difficult, but like all good things, takes a little care and finesse.

It starts with the beef. I only buy grass-fed beef. I think it tastes better, and I buy it from local farms that raise the cattle humanely. Some say that grass-fed beef tastes too gamey. I understand that, because I’ve had grass-fed beef from many different sources over the years. The taste of the beef depends on the breed of cattle as well as the environment they’re raised in. The general title “grass-fed” is convenient to use, but quality varies greatly. The only answer to that is to keep trying cuts of beef until you find the one you like. For me, here in Rhode Island, Pat’s Pastured in East Greenwich has the quality and taste I’m looking for. And occasionally, my local Whole Foods will offer great cuts of grass-fed beef as well.

Grass-fed matters to me because the cows eat what is natural for them to eat: grass. The meat naturally has better fats; it’s higher in Omega-3’s. Feeding corn and grains to cattle is cheaper and fattens them up faster, which is why most American farmers switched to that method many years ago and created the factory farms we now have. But feeding them corn and grains also makes them sick, so the farmers have to pump antibiotics and hormones in them to keep disease away. Make no mistake: whatever nasty crap they put into the cow, goes into you. To me, it’s worth paying the extra bucks to support the farmers that do it right. I have beef less often, but what I have is the best I can get for my family.

If none of that matters to you, and you simply want to grab a slab of beef from your supermarket, that’s your choice. But even then, there are varying degrees of quality. Cough up a few extra bucks for better beef and it will reward you later.

A perfect medium-rare porterhouse that was simply pan-seared. It was thin enough not to even go in the oven.

A perfect medium-rare porterhouse that was simply pan-seared. It was thin enough not to even go in the oven.

The cut of beef I select is as personal as the choice to go grass-fed or not. My absolute favorite cut is the porterhouse: NY strip on one side, tenderloin on the other, bone in the middle. (Not to be confused with a T-bone, which offers almost no tenderloin.) And it needs to be thick. The thicker the cut of beef, the more control I have over the final cooking temperature I want it to be. Unfortunately, because grass-fed beef costs more, farmers often sell skinny porterhouses to keep the price down. But the end product comes out over-cooked, because the meat is so thin. I would rather pay big bucks less often and get a real slab of meat than get a scrawny cut more often.

If you want to try grass-fed beef, but are put off by the high price of the more popular cuts (tenderloins, ribeyes, etc.), go for the less popular cuts: flank, hangar, etc. They cost a lot less and they’ve got great taste. You just need to be careful not to overcook them because they’re usually thin and contain very little fat.

 

Many articles have been written about it being okay to cook beef from frozen, but I don’t like to do that. I always take my slab of beef out of the freezer the day before I want to cook it, and thaw it in the fridge (out of its wrapper.) Then, about an hour before I plan on cooking it, I take it out of the fridge and place it on a plate to warm to room temperature. I like to rub the beef with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and let it sit that way for an hour. And that’s all I season my beef with. No need to hide the flavor of amazing beef!

But although I grill year ’round, it’s not always convenient to fire it up when I crave a steak. Few methods can rival the simple steps of searing both sides of the beef in a hot cast iron skillet, and then finishing it in the oven. I use pork lard or bacon fat in the cast iron pan, heat it, sear one side, flip it over, sear the other side, and place it in a 375-degree oven. How long to cook it is a matter of practice. Eventually you learn the quirks of your oven and you get the perfect steak every time. Until then, a thermometer helps, though you don’t want to poke the hell out of your beef and let all the juices run out.

And it’s key to let the steak rest. I’ve gone to all this trouble…it would be dumb to mess it up now! This is when I take a few minutes to make myself a nice cocktail. By the time the cocktail’s made, and I’ve taken a few sips, the beef is ready to be devoured.

That's not scallions. That's garlic! And a side of fresh oregano.

That’s not scallions. That’s garlic! And a side of fresh oregano.

 

 

With the garden coming to life again this spring, I found a bunch of shoots popping out of the soil in my garlic patch. I pulled them out, and the garlic greens looked just like baby scallions, only with tiny garlic bulbs at the bottoms. I also found some fresh oregano growing in the herb garden. I washed them all, finely chopped them, and sautéed them in a pan with a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. I cooked them just until the garlic started to get brown and crispy, and I poured it all over my porterhouse. Fantastic!

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Just remember…

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