Labels Part II

Last week, I began discussing labels. As you continue reading the label of a package of beef, you might see words such as natural or organic. Most consumers (and even producers!) do not know the difference between the two.

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Most beef is natural, meaning that it does not contain any additives and is not more than minimally processed.

Certified organic beef must meet USDA’s national organic program standards. Organically raised cattle must be fed 100% organic feed, and they may not be given hormones to promote growth or antibiotics for any reason. Organic beef may be either grass or grain finished. Organically produced food does not differ in safety or nutrition from conventionally produced foods. The reason organically produced food is more expensive to purchase, is because this food is more expensive to produce.

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All beef choices are a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins like protein, zinc, iron and b vitamins.

According to USDA, natural means that a product is minimally processed and contains no additives. By this definition, most beef in the meat case is natural. Natural beef does differ from “naturally raised beef.” Naturally raised beef is from cattle raised without added hormones to promote growth or the use of antibiotics to prevent disease.

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No matter what kind of beef you choose, you can be confident that you are feeding your family a safe and savory product!

When it comes down to it, the type of beef your purchase for you and your family is a matter of personal preference. If purchasing beef that has been organically raised is important to you, then you are more than welcome to purchase that product. For more information on the beef choices available in today’s market, please click here.

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Five Tips to Master Memorial Day Grilling

With Memorial Day next Monday, beef is the number one protein of choice for this holiday, and grills will be heated up cooking steaks and hamburgers across the United States. As we invite family and friends over to enjoy a juicy steak or hamburger, here are five tips that you need to remember so you have the most savory and best experience this holiday.

1. When cooking steaks, cook for a total of 14 minutes, seven minutes on each side, flipping only once.

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Set a timer for 14 minutes, flipping the meat only once at seven minutes to get an even grill on both sides.

2. Steaks should be cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees whereas hamburgers should be cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees. The only way to ensure your beef is cooked to the proper temperatures is to use an instant read meat thermometer.

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Insert the instant meat read thermometer sideways into the thickest part of the beef to get an accurate temperature reading.

3. Use tongs rather than a fork to flip steaks and take steaks off the grill. A fork will pierce your steaks or hamburgers and the juices inside that add flavor and tenderness will be lost.

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Flipping steaks and hamburgers with tongs rather than forks ensures juices will stay inside the meat as it cooks and rests.

4. Let your steaks and/or hamburgers rest at least five to seven minutes before serving. The heat from the grill causes the juices inside the meat to flow and without letting your steaks or hamburgers rest prior to cutting them open, all the juices would flow out onto your plate and not cause as juicy or flavorful eating experience.

resting steak

Allowing your steaks or hamburgers to rest prior to serving it will ensure you and your guests enjoy a flavorful, tender, and juicy eating experience this holiday!

5. Cut against the grain of your steaks. Hamburgers, because they are ground beef, do not have a grain, but all cuts of steak do. It is important to cut against the grain of the meat so you do not have a chewy eating experience.

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Cut against the grain to keep the juices and flavor into the meat and avoid chewiness.

As you celebrate your Memorial Day with firing up your grill, remember these five simple tips so you and your guests have the best eating experience with the steaks and/or hamburgers you grill. Although this day is your time to shine as a chef, do not forget to thank the Veterans that have served so we can live in a free country.

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Happy Memorial Day, happy grilling, and thank you Veterans!

~Demi~

What Does the Label Mean?

When you go to the market to purchase beef, you are confronted with several different labels. All of these labels can be very confusing! One of the biggest labels with beef is grass fed. Most cattle are raised on a combination of both grass and grain in the United States because of our shortened growing season. Although it is not as common as grain finished beef, it is still very common to find grass-finished beef in most grocery stores. So what is the difference between grass finished and grain finished beef?

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Grass finished and grain finished beef differ in the final stage of production.

For both production methods, the calves spend their first few months of life with their mothers. They drink their mother’s milk and graze on grass pastures. Once these calves reach approximately 500 pounds, they are weaned from their mothers. Calves typically then go to stockers and backgrounders to graze on many different kinds of pasture all across the United States. If they are going into the grain-finished production system, the calves will start receiving grain to supplement their diets. The majority of cattle in the United States are then sold or moved to feedyards where they receive carefully balanced, nutritious diet for an average of 120 to 180 days. In the grass-finished system, the calves will continue grazing on grass pastures until they reach the desired weight. Cattle in feedyards typically reach market weight around 3-6 months faster.

The important takeaway from this is that nearly all cattle spend the majority of their lives grazing on native grasslands.

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For more information, click here.

All types of beef, regardless of the way it is finished is wholesome, safe, and nutritious. No matter what way it is finished, all beef is an excellent source of six nutrients and vitamins, providing more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value, and can be part of a nutritious and balanced diet. The decision between grass and grain finished is really a matter of personal preference. I would recommend trying grass-finished and grain-finished beef side by side like our team did in Denver to determine what your preference is. In my honest opinion, I could tell a difference between the two types but I am indifferent. I think that both kinds of beef deserve a place at the butcher counter, and in my kitchen. Not everyone feels that way, and that is okay! The beauty of choice at the meat counter is that everyone can purchase what they like.

Although there is a noticeable difference

At the end of the day, it is a matter of consumer preference!

Happy Meaty Monday! Check out part two of this blog here.

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Cinco de Mayo Festivities!

Howdy Friends!

As many of you know, this past Tuesday was Cinco de Mayo!  I hope everyone celebrated with beef; I know that I did!  And it gave me a great excuse to take a break from studying for finals and kick back with a great friend and some awesome Mexican food!

My friend Logan and I had our own little party, which involved my mom’s recipe for enchiladas, homemade salsa and tacky Fiesta music.  We laughed, enjoyed dinner and had a fantastic time!  Now, my mom’s enchiladas are a winning recipe, and definitely a family favorite!  I would love to share them with y’all, so here goes!

Rolled Green Chile Beef Enchiladas

Meat Mixture

  • Hamburger
  • Minced Onion
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper
  • Green Chiles (we use Hatch Chiles we roast ourselves)

Brown meat with seasoning added to your liking.

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Green Chile Sauce

  • 1 Can Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/4 Sour Cream
  • Green Chiles to taste

Heat ingredients until they are combined.

Coat bottom of pan with Green Chile Sauce.  Portion some meat mixture into a tortilla, add cheese and then roll.  Place rolled tortilla into pan, continue until the pan is full.  Top with remaining sauce and extra cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until heated through and cheese is bubbly!

“These enchiladas were the best I’ve ever had, and I generally don’t like enchiladas.  I never knew how scrumptious ground beef could be in this wonderful Mexican dish!”

-Logan

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Making the Cut

Interacting with an array of beef consumers proves to be both educational and rewarding. These past few days, we had the opportunity to attend the Southern Women’s Cooking Show and spend four days teaching consumers about beef through interactive skill-set stations and cooking demonstrations. A personal favorite of mine, which also seemed to provide a wealth of knowledge to our event goers, was the “Making the Cut” skill-set station. In this station, consumers were taught the proper way to cut their steaks.

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The youth at the Southern Women’s Show were eager to interact and have a hands-on experience cutting the steak.

It is important to realize that steaks have grains in them. To achieve the best and most flavorful eating experience, one should cut against the grain, holding the knife to cut at a 45 degree angle. There are muscle fibers and tendons in our meat which help with the flavor and tenderization of the cut. Cutting against the grain ensures that the juices stay in the piece of meat, as well as when biting into the meat, you are now biting with the grain which adds for a more flavorful and juicy eating experience.

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As you can see from within this picture, the grains of the steak are vertical, therefore we knew to cut the steak horizontally short ways across the grains to have the best eating experience.

If you were to cut with the grain, when you go to bite down, all the muscle fibers and tendons in the meat would be pulling in many directions which causes chewiness. When we go to a steak house or cook our own steaks at home, it is important to check which way the grains are going in our meat. If you are unsure you can pull a little on the sides of the meat to determine the way the grains are going. Once this has been determined, turn your plate to be sure you are cutting your beef against the grain for the most flavorful, juiciness, and tender eating experience.

against the grain

Using your fork and knife to pull apart your cut of beef is important when you want to determine the way the grain is going so you can cut against it.

 

Happy Tuesday!
Demi

 

Happy Beef Month!

May is beef month! In honor of beef month, I am going to share the top 5 reasons to eat beef:

  1. 97 percent of beef cattle farms and ranches are family-owned and operated. The same product these family farms and ranches produce is the same product that goes on their dinner plate at the end of the day.

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    Agriculture is a family affair.

  2. Beef is nutritious! All beef choices are a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins like protein, zinc, iron and b vitamins.

    Nutritious

    You only need 3-ounces of beef to receive all of these nutrients.

  3. Beef is versatile! The only limitation on what you can do with beef is your imagination. Try a new cooking method! Have you ever had beef for breakfast? Give it a shot!

    Beef...it's not just for dinner anymore.

    Beef…it’s not just for dinner anymore.

  4. Beef is delicious! Did you know beef is a natural source of the umami flavor? The umami taste is described as meaty, savory and delicious and, when paired with other umami rich foods, the two will have a magnifying effect on each other and produce 8x more flavor! Bacon, aged cheeses, tomatoes or mushrooms are great options to pair with beef.

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    You can find the recipe for Ribeye Steaks with Sautéed Grape Tomatoes And Brie here

  5. Open space and pastures, managed by farmers and ranchers, provides habitats for 75 percent of America’s wildlife.

     I did not want to disturb the nest, so I did not insert anything for scale. The eggs were about the size of a quarter. Pretty tiny for a great big world!

    Here’s a nest I found in a pasture last summer. Wildlife thrive thanks to farmers and ranchers!

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Profile: Strip Steak

As an agricultural communication major, taking journalism classes and learning how to write magazine articles and news stories is part of my class requirements. Part of my news writing class was learning how to write a profile story. Not only can you profile a person, but I have decided to profile a delicious cut of steak prior to the Nashville Southern Women’s Cooking Show that we will be traveling to this week to educate moms, millennials, and more about different cuts of beef to cook, as well as quick and easy recipes.

While at the cooking show, we will have a chance to demo a recipe on stage, one that uses the Strip Steak!

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As you can notice by the fat content throughout these, Strip Steaks are a very tender and flavorful cut of beef.

The Strip Steak comes from the short loin of the beef animal, also having the more prominent names of Kansas City Strip or New York Strip Steak. In relationship to where the Strip Steak is located within the animal, it is a muscle that does very little work and is therefore a very tender and lean cut.

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Located in the Short Loin, this muscle does little work producing tender cuts of meat such as the Strip Steak and T-bone Steak.

 Without the bone, the cut is called the Strip Steak, but if the bone is left in the meat then it is called a T-bone steak, therefore both of these steaks come from the portion of the short loin alike.

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In regards to cooking Strip Steak, the three most popular cooking methods are grilling, broiling, and pan frying. No matter which way you choose to cook your Strip Steak, all three produce a juicy and delicious steak. Because the Strip Steak is so tender, it is not a cut that requires being marinaded, however it is a versatile cut and personal preference will decided if you want to use a marinate or simple rub to add your choice of flavor.

While in Nashville, the recipe that members of the National Beef Ambassador Team will demonstrate cooking with Strip Steak is called Grilled Steaks Balsamico. With only 464 calories and 30 grams of fat, this 30 minute recipe is sure to offer you a fresh new taste of one of your favorite lean cuts of beef, the Strip Steak!

grilled strip

Check out the Grilled Steaks Balsamico recipe here! http://www.beefcookoff.org/recipe.aspx?id=931

#EatBeef!

~Demi~

Happy Prime Rib Day!

Today is National Prime Rib Day! Prime rib is rich flavor, juicy tenderness with generous marbling throughout. Fun fact: not all prime rib is prime! Prime is one of the different grades of beef. For example there can be choice prime rib. So, if you are a fan of prime meat, make sure to take to your butcher to ensure you are getting the grade of beef you want.

Grades

Grading is based on marbling (the amount of fat within the meat) and maturity (the physiological age of the animal).

In honor of this day, here are some fabulous recipes for a prime rib that is sure to impress your guests!

yaya

The American Dietetic Association lists winter squash (such as acorn squash) as one of the best sources of the antioxidant beta carotene.

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Yorkshire puddings are a great addition to prime rib!

  • Mediterranean Beef and Veggie Wraps: If you have leftover prime rib afterwards, this is the perfect recipe to use the rest of it up! It’s a great way to cook once and dine twice! This recipe features hummus, and your favorite veggies!
Save time! This recipe is ready in 10-15 minutes!

Time can be saved with this recipe, it is ready in just 10-15 minutes!

Here is some more information about the cut that is commonly called prime rib–ribeye roast bone-in. Prime rib is one of my favorite cuts of beef, a meal always feels like a celebration when you are eating it!

Happy Prime Rib Day and Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Gourmet Beef At Home – Dry Aging

When I was in Washington D.C., I had the pleasure of dining with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association at the famous, “Capital Grille.”  At this wonderful establishment fit for senators, there were lots of premium beef selections, including dry aged steaks.  Since someone else was footing the bill, I decided to try one out and see what all the fuss was about.  And let me tell you, I am ruined for life.  That was some of the most tender and flavorful beef I have EVER had.

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Meat dry ages in a controlled environment

 

Dry aging is an art which beef is left in special rooms for several weeks and the moisture contained within the beef is allowed to evaporate and the natural enzymes break down the muscle fibers even further.   The temperature and humidity within these rooms must be carefully controlled so that the meat does not spoil.   All beef is wet aged, which means allowing it to hang in refrigerated rooms for a few days before being boxed and sold.

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An outer crust forms on the cut

 

This method of dry aging allows the beef flavor to intensify and results in a perfectly tender cut.  During the process, the outside of the meat develops a fungal crust, which is trimmed off before it is prepared.  Due to the length of time it takes to perform this process, the price also rises significantly; however, I have discovered that you can dry age your beef right in your own home quite easily!

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103 Rib

To age at home, you will need a large cut of beef, preferably a primal.  Aging individual steaks does not work because after a week, the steak is entirely dried out.  A great cut to start with, and one that ribeyes are cut from, is a 103 rib.  Also, the greater amount of fat on the outside, the better!  This protects the delicious parts from drying out as quickly!  It is then recommended you place it in a special fridge at about 40 degrees fahrenheit, and place a fan to circulate air within it (a desk fan works great).  Then, allow the meat to age for approximately 21-30 days.

 

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Removing the crust is essential before the meat can be prepared!

 

 

Before you can cook it, you will need to remove the outer crust, which is the molded and dried parts of the meat.  It is now ready for you to enjoy!  Here is a longer article on how to dry age beef http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/03/the-food-lab-complete-guide-to-dry-aging-beef-at-home.html.

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia   

Restaurant Quality Steak Anyone?

I don’t know about y’all, but I LOVE to go out to a restaurant for a good filet or strip steak!  There is just something about the way they were prepared that I wasn’t able to accomplish at home…UNTIL NOW!

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Believe it or not, you can make this right at home quite easily!

 

Being a bit of a pyrophobic (grills generally have scary flames), and the fact I live in an apartment, meant I didn’t get to eat steaks as much as I would have liked.  Then, I discovered the Two Step Method of cooking steaks, and my life was forever changed!  Now, I can have my filet and eat it too, all within the confines of my safe, flameless kitchen!

Cooking beef using this method is ridiculously simple and gives you lots of room for error.  First, you thaw your chosen cut and season it as you like.  I used Bodacious Red Soppin’ Sauce, Salt and Pepper.  While you are seasoning, get a skillet on the stove and crank it to medium high heat until it is nice and hot.  Using a pair of tongs, place the steak in the pan and allow the outside to sear for approximately 2-3 minutes per side.  I also throw a little butter in the pan, because let’s be honest, a little butter never hurt anybody!

beef_steak_color_guide

Once your steak is caramelized and seared on the outside, transfer it to an oven safe dish and put it into a preheated 350 degree oven.  Now, here’s the real magic.  Step away.  Let the oven do all the work!  The thickness of your cut will determine when it is done, so I use a meat thermometer to ensure it is just the way I like it.  Make sure to pull your steak out of the oven when it is about 5 degrees below your target doneness.  Allow it to rest, and it will finish cooking and reach the perfect internal temperature.

This is an easy and fool-proof way to make restaurant quality steaks right at home!  Make one for just yourself, or wow your guests with your awesome culinary skills!  If I can do this, I promise you can too!

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia