4

votes

Your best paleo hack to make grass-fed meat tender as possible

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 06, 2011 at 8:41 AM

Grass-fed beef is of course healthier alternative to grain-fed one. But it often takes quite an effort to cut and even chew it :)

So, I wonder what's your best recipe / lifehack to make it really, really tender to make it melt in a mouth? Ideally, not a very time consuming one...

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on January 03, 2012
at 08:34 PM

I just got one for the holidays, I can't wait to start using it!

Fe535c4994ac6176f76e1ff6d29eb08a

(4286)

on December 12, 2011
at 05:15 PM

Beat me to it, this is exactly the link i was going to post. Btw, it totally works.

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on December 12, 2011
at 02:01 PM

I agree with Peter. Many factors can influence the tenderness of beef. Age and conditions at slaughter, types of grasses available, breed of cattle, aging, etc. It might be best to search out ranchers who have been raising cattle a long time. Newbie ranchers may not produce the best beef. IME. I have eaten from many grassfed ranches.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on November 17, 2011
at 01:28 PM

Plus one for the concise answer!

E040cb40de8ffe5cd38ae53a7ce5c598

(90)

on October 07, 2011
at 05:46 PM

We've done this repeatedly and works wonders!

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on October 06, 2011
at 11:09 PM

Oh, I want one!

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on October 06, 2011
at 09:25 PM

Maybe it has something to do with the age of the cow and how long the meat is aged for. And the breed? Strange I have always grass fed to be tastier and tender

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on October 06, 2011
at 03:10 PM

In my opinion, marinades should not be necessary on a good piece of beef. In all honesty, I think drowning steak in liquids pre-grilling tends to ruin the flavor of the meat itself. Here's the link to Slanker's cooking directions: http://www.texasgrassfedbeef.com/id82.htm. Admittedly, I have made it work for me only once on a grill and have worn my jaw out trying to cook sirloin this way. I'll probably end up using the sirloin I have as stew meat and then buy fattier cuts to attempt to grill.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on October 06, 2011
at 02:58 PM

I saw a sous vide in the skymall magazine last weekend. Was wondering about that thing.

1368bb49d7a1455a3c477aea04363b03

(169)

on October 06, 2011
at 01:35 PM

I Agree entirely with John. We've bought ENTIRELY grass fed beef, and had to grind up the (cooked)steaks into a hash cause of how tough it was. We've also bought 1/2 a cow which was grass fed, but since it's definitely a younger animal, it isn't too tough. That and it was aged for 21-24 days or so.

B121fdbc1aaa6130f5bda3bf84e3ba2d

(952)

on October 06, 2011
at 11:22 AM

No sarcasm here :) Maybe, it depends on what kind it is but mind is far from being tender (Nicaragua). Anyway, I think any beef can be made softer. So, I wonder whether people prepare it in any way before cooking.

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18 Answers

5
525cac40f08043be58ce67c734459969

(200)

on October 06, 2011
at 11:32 AM

Mostly, tender meat depends on what your butcher did to it before you got it! The meat needs to be hung on the carcass for between 2 weeks and 1 month. However the carcass loses water and hence weight and it ties up money in meat whilst this is happening. So many butchers / meat producers skimp on this step. So firstly try a different source. If that is not an option, buy the slow cooking cuts; legs, bellies, cheeks...A slow braise and you are guaranteed tender meat. Or if you really want a steak, you could try steak tenderiser (normally papaya enzymes), never tried it myself, or if the steak tenderiser appears to have lots of additives try marinating it in mashed up papaya (carefully I have heard its quite powerful). On a final note, in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat cookery book, he documents ageing a rib of beef, on the bone, at home. He hung it up, wrapped in muslin, for about a month, in a cool place. At the end it was covered in mould, which he trimmed off. He declared it the tastiest and tenderist piece of beef he had ever had!

5
6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on October 06, 2011
at 10:42 AM

Are you joking John? I cant tell if you are being sarcastic or not. The grass fed beef I buy is incredibly tender. The eye fillet takes 4 minutes on each side on the BBQ and you can cut it with a butter knife. The chuck steak I cook in a casserole and it literally falls apart.

B121fdbc1aaa6130f5bda3bf84e3ba2d

(952)

on October 06, 2011
at 11:22 AM

No sarcasm here :) Maybe, it depends on what kind it is but mind is far from being tender (Nicaragua). Anyway, I think any beef can be made softer. So, I wonder whether people prepare it in any way before cooking.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on October 06, 2011
at 09:25 PM

Maybe it has something to do with the age of the cow and how long the meat is aged for. And the breed? Strange I have always grass fed to be tastier and tender

1368bb49d7a1455a3c477aea04363b03

(169)

on October 06, 2011
at 01:35 PM

I Agree entirely with John. We've bought ENTIRELY grass fed beef, and had to grind up the (cooked)steaks into a hash cause of how tough it was. We've also bought 1/2 a cow which was grass fed, but since it's definitely a younger animal, it isn't too tough. That and it was aged for 21-24 days or so.

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on December 12, 2011
at 02:01 PM

I agree with Peter. Many factors can influence the tenderness of beef. Age and conditions at slaughter, types of grasses available, breed of cattle, aging, etc. It might be best to search out ranchers who have been raising cattle a long time. Newbie ranchers may not produce the best beef. IME. I have eaten from many grassfed ranches.

3
7d01d86c539003eed77cf901bf037412

(1076)

on December 12, 2011
at 08:44 AM

Chewing is good for your teeth and jaws. I would argue that meat that is soft enough to melt in your mouth is not paleo, unless it's pure fat, or tongue, or raw liver.

Having said that, in my country grass-fed is the norm, and grain-finished is rare and expensive (that's what happens when you don't have massive government subsidies on corn). Maybe my standards are lower than yours, but I don't find I'm troubled by tough meat often if I pay attention in purchase and preparation.

Toughness is basically a function of these things:

  • age of the animal (older = tougher)
  • handling immediately before slaughter (stress = toughness and off-flavours)
  • handling of the carcase immediately after slaughter (poor chilling practise = toughness, electrical stimulation of the carcase can reduce post-slaughter toughness)
  • aging of the meat (the longer it's aged, the more tender it is)
  • cut (muscles that do a lot of work and have a lot of connective tissue are tough, muscles that do little work are tender)

Of these things, you can control somewhat at purchase: choose a good supplier who has proper handling practises, choose a supplier who ages their beef, choose tender cuts. You can also do some aging in cool dry place or maybe your refrigerator yourself.

If meat is tough, then you can:

  • pound it with a meat hammer
  • grind it into mince
  • slice it fine
  • marinate it in an acid marinade, maybe for 24 hours. This isn't going to do much for thick pieces, to be honest, because it can't get inside a big cut very far.
  • marinate it in a marinade with pineapple, papaya or kiwifruit. Watch out, these have protein-dissolving enzymes that can turn a steak into mush in 24 hours, don't leave meat too long with this kind of marinade.
  • cook long and slow to dissolve collagen in the connective tissue into gelatin. This is not gonna work too well on a tough steak that doesn't have much connective tissue to begin with, it will work better on brisket or chuck.
  • eat it rare or raw if it's a tender cut to start with
  • combine one or more of these methods

Right now I have a couple of porterhouse steaks in the fridge, about 3/4 inch thick. They were probably aged 1-2 weeks by my local supermarket's supplier and they are dry-aging here for a few more days. By US standards they are hopelessly unmarbled, but I expect that done my way (sprinkled with flaked salt and pepper, seared 3-4 minutes on each side and rested for 5 mins) they will be quite tender at near rare.

Get Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking out of your public library and read the chapter on meat. It has a good user-friendly breakdown.

3
E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:34 PM

your-best-paleo-hack-to-make-grass-fed-meat-tender-as-possible

^

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on November 17, 2011
at 01:28 PM

Plus one for the concise answer!

2
7e36094a0f7a2fbad24290225405220b

(2064)

on October 06, 2011
at 03:27 PM

E040cb40de8ffe5cd38ae53a7ce5c598

(90)

on October 07, 2011
at 05:46 PM

We've done this repeatedly and works wonders!

Fe535c4994ac6176f76e1ff6d29eb08a

(4286)

on December 12, 2011
at 05:15 PM

Beat me to it, this is exactly the link i was going to post. Btw, it totally works.

2
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 06, 2011
at 02:45 PM

I'm quite thrilled with my Jaccard Meat Tenderizer http://www.americangrassfedbeef.com/jaccard-meat-tenderizer.asp it works really well and it's fun to use

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on October 06, 2011
at 11:09 PM

Oh, I want one!

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on January 03, 2012
at 08:34 PM

I just got one for the holidays, I can't wait to start using it!

2
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 06, 2011
at 02:21 PM

i wish i could remember which PHer posted this gem originally, but put beef on a plate, uncovered in the fridge for a couple of days prior to cooking; just flip it over twice a day. i wish i had something i could use to hang meat in my fridge; its that amazing.

2
1368bb49d7a1455a3c477aea04363b03

(169)

on October 06, 2011
at 01:40 PM

edit: I realized after the fact that you requested something NOT time consuming: Marinade in some sort of acidic marinade to break down the fibers! And example of what we do with Pork Shoulder (which generally tends to be a very tough cut of meat): Cut shoulder into pieces(about the size of something you could skewer and grill). Then, Marinade in some White Vinegar, Bay leaf, Onions, and water to top it all up and distribute the vinegar to every piece. We let this sit overnight or longer. Then skewer and grill over coal until it's ready to eat!

original answer: I would recommend low and slow. If it's stewing meat, add plenty of fat, and cook it on as low a heat as possible for as long as possible. You do not want a rolling boil, just a gentle simmer. I'd say 3-4 hours, depending on how much stew you're making, but use your own judgement after that point.

You can also braise in the oven, and again, same principle as above, low and slow. Keep temps at about 200-250, and braise it for HOURS. (Assuming this is a pot-roast type cut)

On this topic, but a bit off-topic: I picked up two 4-5 lbs grass-fed briskets yesterday, and my plan is to braise one for 6-8 hours, and smoke the other at about 250 for about the same amount of time. But these are tough cuts of meat! If I get around to it this weekend, I'll let you know!

1
33c22c157d416e5813a21048e8732fbe

on November 17, 2011
at 05:52 AM

http://www.betterbeef4u.com/howtocook.html

Your overcooking it. Beef beyond rare is burnt in my book.

1
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on October 06, 2011
at 02:54 PM

As another commenter already mentioned... grass fed meat + crockpot = perfectly cooked grass fed meat. It is wonderful for steaks and roasts and bones and short ribs etc etc.

We sometimes broil steaks for 4 minutes on each side, but I'm not sure how well it works with 100% grass fed steaks. We've had success with the Trader Joes premium steak cuts with that but they are pasture raised grain finished.

But other than the crockpot, it's probably best to do it low and slow over fire like Ted Slanker recommends. He's got fully detailed cooking instructions on his site incase anyone is interested. Grass fed beef has less fat, but if you cook it right, it can have as much or even more wonderful flavor profiles than grain fed meats, especially if the cows ate from rich and diverse pastures. So don't get discouraged. Hang in there and give her another go.

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on October 06, 2011
at 03:10 PM

In my opinion, marinades should not be necessary on a good piece of beef. In all honesty, I think drowning steak in liquids pre-grilling tends to ruin the flavor of the meat itself. Here's the link to Slanker's cooking directions: http://www.texasgrassfedbeef.com/id82.htm. Admittedly, I have made it work for me only once on a grill and have worn my jaw out trying to cook sirloin this way. I'll probably end up using the sirloin I have as stew meat and then buy fattier cuts to attempt to grill.

1
44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on October 06, 2011
at 02:04 PM

Sous vide, 48h medium rare short ribs are amazing and bargain.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on October 06, 2011
at 02:58 PM

I saw a sous vide in the skymall magazine last weekend. Was wondering about that thing.

1
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on October 06, 2011
at 01:41 PM

The quick answer for me is long slow low heat cooking in an acidic solution. A crock pot on low with a little vinegar or citrus or tomato juice works is the way I usually do this. The long slow low cooking lets the muscle fibers relax again after the initial "bunch up" and the acid helps break down the muscle fibers to make them less cord like and therefore less tough. Smoking does the same thing and adds flavor, but takes equipment I don't keep on hand.

0
Medium avatar

(19469)

on December 12, 2011
at 01:53 PM

If you have a kitchen-aid stand mixer, the meat grinding attachment is a must-have. It gives you a sure fire method to making ANY cut of meat tender :)

your-best-paleo-hack-to-make-grass-fed-meat-tender-as-possible

(In this case, it was venison meat that came from a large buck.)

0
D101b6813c1a350a9650f2268dcb7383

on December 12, 2011
at 05:52 AM

Lovely aricle -check out www.ohon.com

0
Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 17, 2011
at 02:39 PM

Pound it as shown. Then slice it very thin, cook it very hot (cast iron skillet if you have one), for a very short time. This works well for cuts like skirt, but they'll toughen if overcooked.

0
De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on October 07, 2011
at 06:09 PM

Marinating in citrus and pounding at it tend to work, as does slow cooking and pressure cooking. Keep it moist while cooking.

0
94a4a87e3d2e1e9160b6ed77678b4bea

(1311)

on October 07, 2011
at 12:57 AM

Best thick-cut grassfed steak - Seal in frypan on either side (1 minute per side on high heat) - then straight into a superhot oven for 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness. Enjoy rare/medium rare.

0
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on October 06, 2011
at 03:50 PM

I buy it ground and cook it lightly. Or if I have time, sear it in a pan and put it in a crock pot. I don't mind chewing, now that I am not feasting on crusty bread at every meal. The good lord gave me a good set of teeth, and I am not going to turn perfectly good meat into a milkshake just because some researcher thought alot about it.

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