Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Grass-Fed Burger Recipe

Grass Fed Beef - Good for the animal, us, and the environment!

Dear Folks,

If you choose to eat beef - choose wisely.  The Mesa Friday Farmers Market is fortunate to have Red Mountain Cattle Company's grass-fed beef. (Red Mountain CC is a division of Tyler Farms, located in North Mesa). For information on Red Mountain click on the link below.

DID YOU know that grass fed beef is better for you with higher levels of CLA (Conjugated linoleic acids - a type of ‘isomer' with anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties)?  According to sources the grass-fed beef contains 300-500% more CLA than grain-fed beef, and the animal is healthier, the environment is healthier and so are you - in the end.

A little history - before factory farming really got going, all or most livestock was ‘range-fed' meaning they foraged naturally on the range and prairie grass and shrubs.  Enter commerce —
 specifically the idea that if you basically force fed cattle grains, while keeping them stationary in feed lots, they gain weight rapidly and produced a lot of what we now call marbling — fat running through their meat.  This ‘self-basting' fatty meat made for tendered, ‘tastier' beef as opposed to the range fed beef -- like TV dinners and fast food got us addicted to salt, marbled beef got us addicted to fatty meat.  There was a serious ‘by-product,' though, of this feed-lot commerce — cattle were not meant to eat a lot of grain, or live (for very long) in too-close quarters - it gives them permanent indigestion, resulting in the need for antibiotics among other chemicals, which lowers their resistance to other diseases — and the domino affect rolls along.

Since most of "that" grain is corn and most of the corn is now genetically modified, choosing grass-fed beef is yet another case of taking something ‘factoried' into a state of almost artificial form and bringing it back full circle to where it started —  as close to natural as possible when managed by humans!

Cooking With Grass-Fed Beef (GFB) requires just a bit of re-education - generally you cook grass-fed beef at slightly lower temperatures and with less time.  I have found everyone's stove or grill is just a little bit different - so figure on carefully watching the first time you cook with GFB

If you have ever cooked with venison (deer or elk) the cooking guidelines are the same.  Marinating steaks is a good way to not only infuse more complimentary flavors but also a way to tenderize it.

Ground GFB is full of great beef flavor, but has almost no fat.  Taking a trick from my Deane, the following recipe uses potato to keep the burger moist and "green" garlic to add great flavor.  All three ingredients can be found at the Mesa Farmers Market on Fridays or at your local farmers market.

1 package (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds) of ground grass-fed beef
half of un-peeled potato, shredded (if you shred it ahead of time, cover with cool water to keep from darkening)
1 green garlic, minced or put through garlic press (can substitute 1-2 dried garlic cloves)

Mix beef, potato and garlic to incorporate well, but don't over do it or you will loose the texture.  Form into 6 patties, press each one in the center with your thumb (keeps the burger from rising in the center and creating different cooking from edge to center) — I like to use my good old Tupper-ware hamburger press to keep the patties uniform for cooking.

Sear each side on direct heat on the grill.  Cook uncovered turning once or twice - total time 4-5 minutes for medium - 6-7 minutes for well done. Serve with a choice of toppings.

The finished picture shows a side of bacon wrapped asparagus - I usually use basil leaves inside the bacon to give these wonderful grill veggie bundles extra flavor — holding 3-5 stalks of asparagus, wrap several good sized basil leaves around them and cover/wrap with bacon.  Grill watching carefully, over direct heat, turning until each side has some grill marks and the bacon is cooked through.  Even great cold the next day - if you have any left over!

Food choices made with an understanding of all consequences to us, the source, and the environment always equal a win/win/win!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady