Because I don't like gamey meat, I was pretty nervous about ordering a side of beef. When I tried Googling what grass-fed beef tastes like, this is what I came across:
earthy dirt taste
melt in your mouth
I guess, grass-fed beef, is one of those things you either love or hate... or is it?
Why does grass-fed beef taste so different?
1. The Environment: A few environmental factors will affect the taste of grass-fed beef.
- Farmer practices
- What kinds of grasses did the cow eat?
- Age at slaughter
- The season at slaughter
- Slaughtering practices (local butcher vs. slaughterhouse)
- Dry aging.
- Cow happiness (Don't believe me? Ask a farmer).
3. You: Lastly, the taste of grass-fed beef depends on you. Grass-fed beef needs to be watched like a newborn. Tenderness is mostly based on temperatures. Cooking grass-fed beef is also a learned art.
What does grass-fed beef taste like?
The best way for me to describe the taste of grass-fed beef, is it is to tell you about our first few grass-fed meals. As you'll see, there's more to it than just the initial taste.
100% Grass-Fed Tacos
Our first grass-fed meal: Tacos. As I began cooking the ground beef, I couldn't help but notice the occasional whiffs of a farm. Was it my imagination? I began to get really worried ... $650 worth of worry (a quarter side of beef). I took a bite. I was confused. I couldn't tell if it was gamey or just really beefy. Shouldn't beef taste beefy? Why did it taste so beefy? Does grocery store beef has all the "beefiness" processed out of it. I took a few more bites. I didn't really like it. My heart sank.
The good thing: My husband and kids loved the taco meat and couldn't figure out what my problem was.
100% Grass-Fed Beef Stew
For our next meal, I made a very flavourful dish, Beef Vindaloo Stew. I coated my cubes in coconut flour and carefully browned small batches in coconut oil. I added all my ingredients and the beef to my Crockpot. The beef Vindaloo turned out AMAZING! In fact, I kept proclaiming, "This is the best stew I've ever had". The meat was so rich and tasty. There wasn't a bunch of fat in the sauce. It was perfect!
100% Grass-Fed Spaghetti Sauce
Again, I don't notice any smell or extra beefy taste at all. Am I just getting used to it?
100% Grass-Fed Roast
I attempt my first grass-fed roast. I learn that this particular cut is best braised. I coated my roast in coconut flour and seared it in coconut oil. My roast tasted ridiculously good! On that day, I decided we can never go back to conventional beef.
Homemade 100% Grass-Fed Burgers
I made an awesome burger mixture with ground beef, caramelized onions, garlic, and spices. My husband grilled them to the standard 160 degrees. The burgers turned out really dry. I had to find a recipe that made them more moist.
A few days later, I made another batch of burgers for a family gathering. This time I added extra fat (grated butter) and didn't over mix the meat mixture. We didn't overcook them this time. They were perfect! My family still talks about how good they were!
100% Grass-Fed Steaks
Because grass-fed steaks are so expensive in stores, I was really nervous about taking them out of the freezer. I made sure to follow the golden rules:
- Completely defrost in the fridge.
- Bring to room temperature.
- Season with lots of salt and some pepper.
- Sear quickly over direct heat.
- Cook off direct flames until medium rare (or 125 degrees).
- Let rest for 10 minutes
- Cook tenderloin pieces only when the kids are gone.
The Moral of the Grass-Fed Story
Imagine if I had only bought one pound of ground beef to sample? I would have never "wasted my good money" on grass-fed beef again. Conventional beef now taste like nothing to me. How strange that beef can taste so different.
If at first you don't like the taste of grass-fed beef, give it another chance. Find a different or more experienced source. Buy at a different season. Remember that the taste of ground or stewing beef can vary within the same cow. Maybe like me, your opinion of grass-fed beef will completely change. I can't imagine buying conventional beef again.
Where can you buy affordable grass-fed beef? See our post here.