Naturally at Holben Valley Farm

Grass-fed. Direct from the farm.

How do you cook lower-fat grass-fed beef?

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak with Chimichurri, a zesty green sauce that is traditionally served with steak in Argentina and Uruguay.
Photo by Bob Andres

The way Lynne Sawicki explains it to Access Atlanta, the difference between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef is a lot like the difference between people who eat mostly vegetables and people who eat a lot of pasta and bread. The vegetable eaters tend to be leaner. And so are the cows who eat mostly grass, she says.

“Beef that is grass-fed is just never going to get the marbling that grain-fed beef does,” said Sawicki. “The grass-fed cow has to move around a lot more than a stockyard cow. More exercise means a leaner and healthier cow, so that cow also doesn’t need the antibiotics and hormones that are routinely used with stockyard cattle.”

Sawicki is the owner of Sawicki’s Meat Seafood and More, a specialty food store in Decatur, Georgia. She started her own business after spending more than 20 years in the food industry including working with the Bacchanalia Group at Star Provisions where she says she gained her experience as a butcher.

Leaner cows means leaner meat and nutritionally, that’s a good thing. Here are the numbers on grass-fed vs. grain-fed ground beef.

Grass-fed ground beef per 4-ounce serving: 220 calories (percent of calories from fat, 32), 20 grams protein, no carbohydrates, no fiber, 16 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 68 milligrams cholesterol, 76 milligrams sodium.

Grain-fed ground beef per 4-ounce serving: 284 calories (percent of calories from fat, 51), 20 grams protein, no carbohydrates, no fiber, 24 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 80 milligrams cholesterol, 76 milligrams sodium.

Sawicki also chooses to carry grass-fed beef because she appreciates the taste of the beef, saying it’s a piece of meat that tastes like meat. “There’s a whole lot to the process of taking care of the cows from how they’re grown to how they’re butchered. With grass-fed beef I feel that the quality is there from start to finish. The cows tend to be on smaller farms and the farmers handle things in a more humane way. They want to produce something that tastes really good.”

So how do you cook this lower-fat grass-fed beef? “You have to take your time and you can’t walk away from the cooking. Don’t cook it at the highest heat, and know that it will cook faster than grain-fed beef,” says Sawicki.

She suggests that cuts for roasting like a chuck roast, top sirloin or top round need to be braised. Cooking them low and slow with a little liquid will break down that large muscle mass and make the meat more tender. Another option is to slice these roasts thinly and pound them into scaloppini so they can be cooked quickly.

Grilling works for cuts like hanger steaks because they should also be cooked quickly. When serving, cut them across the grain for the most tender slices.

When she makes burgers from grass-fed beef, Sawicki likes to make them a little thicker, and says you should never ever put the lid down on the grill. “Stay at the grill and pay attention to what you’re doing. It takes no time at all to overcook this beef so if you put down the lid, you’re just enclosing the beef in hot air and that will dry it out,” she said.

Find these great grass-fed beef recipes from Sawicki on Access Atlanta:

  • Dry-Rub Rib Eye Steak
  • Hanger Steak with Chimichurri
  • Beef Scaloppini with Cremini Mushrooms

A Note about the Recipes
Sawicki says it’s important to move the beef from the refrigerator to the counter 30 to 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook so it will come to room temperature. Room temperature beef cooks more quickly and doesn’t get a chance to dry out. And don’t forget that there’s no need for extended cooking times with grass-fed beef because you don’t have so much fat to render out. She suggests seasoning grass-fed beef with a dry rub, or a web rub or marinade, and offers a recipe for each. The third recipe is a quick pan saute.


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