I think it is time to admit to something. My name is Stanley, and I am a grassfed beefophile.
Many people are familiar with oenophiles, who are people who deeply appreciate wines and have great knowledge and appreciation of them.
With respect, I could care less about wine. But grassfed beef is something else entirely. I love it, in many of its endless variations. I love the endless variety of flavors, caused by the different configurations of meadow plants from pastures all over the world. I love the way it makes me feel—renewed and strong after eating it. I love the wonderful aromas that delight my nose as it cooks. There is no use denying it. I am a grassfed beefophile.
How I Discovered my Obsession
I came to realize this yesterday, after I picked up a package of grassfed ground beef from Uruguay. I noted the deep red color, rich with promise. Even the way the meat was ground caught my attention. I was excited about knowing that this beef had come from cattle who ate grass all year round, as there is no winter there. I wondered what wonderful taste would come from the rich grass eaten by these cattle, on some of the most nutrient-dense soil on earth. I could not wait to get home and cook it!
Seriously, folks. Who gets excited about hamburger?
All the way home, I kept thinking about how I would cook it. I know dozens of ways of making hamburger, and I am not exaggerating. I was torn between my desire to add some spices to enhance the flavor, and my fear of masking the wonderful natural taste. Should the burger be thick, thin, or in between? Should I fry it, or barbecue it, or broil it?
Should I cook it until grey, as the government advises for safety, or should I make it less done, to make it more nutritious and enjoy more of the natural flavor?
So many decisions, so many thoughts. So hard to decide.
Again, I ask you—who torments themselves over the best way to cook a hamburger?
I finally decided to use some flavors from the region, trusting that the traditional flavors would not ruin the meat, or mask the flavors. I added a touch of oregano, a mere hint of garlic, a dollop of olive oil. I sautéed it gently in a pan rubbed with a small amount of olive oil. I cooked it rare, at my own risk, trusting that good grassfed beef would be alright, and knowing that I personally have never had a problem after eating it.
O my gosh, it was WONDERFUL! The meat had a unique, beefy, slightly sweet flavor. There were hints of something I did not recognize, but it was pleasant. It made me feel better with every bite. I enjoyed the lovely aroma, the very mouth feel of the burger, and the sensation of strength and renewal as I swallowed it. I was torn by the desire to wolf it down and the desire to appreciate the eating experience, to savor it, to pay careful attention to it, which could only be done by chewing slowly, and pausing from time to time.
It was a struggle, but the art of tasting won out over ravenous hunger, and I savored this wonderful meat.
Seriously, who gets this kind of deep experience and joy from eating a hamburger?
A grassfed beefophile, that is who.
The Benefits of Being a Grassfed Beefophile
Now that I have admitted to what I am, I must discuss the benefits. Unlike factory meat, which tastes about the same, bland, blah, and boring, has horrible mouth feel, mushy texture, and never makes me feel good—grassfed beef has endless variations in taste.
Most of these variations are good, and many great, if the meat is properly cooked. I always get a different taste by eating grassfed meat from different ranches. Even grassfed meat from the same ranch will taste different at various times of the year, because the forage changes with the seasons. I enjoy grassfed meat in the form of hamburgers, steaks, roasts, stir-fries, pot roasts, pan roasts, stews, and soups. My cookbook Tender Grassfed Meat has many delicious variations of all these forms of grassfed beef, bison, and lamb. I fry it, broil it, barbecue it, stew it, sauté it, simmer it, and often combine these techniques. I use traditional flavor combinations from all over the world, and create my own. My newest cookbook Tender Grassfed Barbecue also has many different flavor combinations for grassfed ground meat.
I eat almost every variety of cut, from nearly every part of the animal. The variety is endless, the taste wonderful, and the nutrition fantastic.
Grassfed beef is far more nutritious than factory beef. See Health Benefits of Grass-fed Products.
If I were to make an analogy to a wine connoisseur, my personal opinion is that factory beef is like the cheap, sweet wine favored by people who just want to get drunk, while grassfed beef is like a variety of fine wines, that are drunk to be savored and enjoyed.
There is some grassfed beef I would not recommend, just as there are some fancy wines a true oenophile would not recommend. But properly cooked grassfed beef, from a good ranch, is a true joy. And since the beef from each ranch is different, I never get tired of it.
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