Grass-fed V. Grain-fed And How To Cook A Perfect Steak Without A Grill

I think it only right that I give you some context before I embark whole-heartedly on this post, because it’s about steak, and steak and I had a pretty rocky start to our relationship.  I didn’t start out as an expert on Grain-fed v. Grass-fed Steak.  I didn’t start out as an expert on any kind of steak, actually.

I grew up in England where no one has the slightest idea how to cook a steak.  Either that, or the cows in England are just much better at producing fantastic dairy produce than they are large slabs of delicious, juicy, tender meat.  Well, that’s how it was when I lived there – things may have changed in the steak department since I left over 12 years ago.  Once I’d absconded to this side of the pond, however, I quickly noticed that the cows here produced amazing chunks of meat, but terrible dairy products.  Maybe it’s just how cows are wired; you can have one or the other – great meat or great dairy – but not both.

I never ate steak in England.  Ever.  I think I must have done so once and the experience was so horrible I never repeated it.  Mysteriously, and shortly after I moved stateside, I decided – for reasons completely unknown to me – to order a steak at a team dinner in Kirkland.  I remember that first mouthful of meat as if it was yesterday.  It was incredible.  I never knew beef could taste like that.  I never knew steak could have the consistency of soft butter.  I never knew meat could melt in your mouth.  I never knew that a simple piece of cow could taste so divine.  I instantly became a steak lover.  Now I eat steak at any given opportunity.  Well, great steak that is – I’ve become pretty picky about my steaks.

So a few weeks back when those lovely folks over at Marx Foods in Seattle dropped me a note asking me if they could give me some of their New Zealand grass-fed steak to see what I thought of it, I was all, “Me! Me! Pick me!!”  They did.

Being given two fabulous grass-fed steaks forced me to figure out how to cook steak perfectly without a grill.  Hey, I’m a single girl.  I ain’t going to wheel that hulking great grill out of the garage, hook up the propane, and fire it up for 4 minutes just to cook one steak.  So I now know how to cook a perfect steak indoors without all that grilling drama.  You’re welcome.

The deal was I had to do a side-by-side comparison of Marx Food’s New Zealand Grass-fed Steak against a regular steak from my local grocery store.  I decided to compare it – not with a really regular steak – but with a steak that has a reputation around these parts as being the cat’s meow.  That meant all-natural meat raised with no hormones, and fed a 100% vegetarian diet.  But it still wasn’t grass-fed.  There’s a difference, lovely people, there really is.

To make it as fair as possible, I cooked the New York Strips in exactly the same way.  In fact, I cooked them alongside each other in the same pan at the same time.  I even bought the other steak to match as closely as possible in size and thickness, so any discrepancies were absolutely minimal.  You know me – I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal.  This was going to be a proper test, or not at all.

Just looking at them raw you could see a difference – the grass-fed was brighter, redder, and softer.  Once cooked the grass-fed steak was springier to the touch, and juicier – it took a lot longer for the juices to start oozing out after they had finished cooking.  On eating, the grass-fed meat itself was more tender, and juicier; the opposing steak being tougher and drier.  Understand that the other steak was not at all dry – it was still very tender and juicy, just not as much as the grass-fed piece – and by a noticeable amount.  The grain-fed was steak was chewier, where the grass-fed steak yielded easily to my hungry gnashers.  The flavor was also different – the grass-fed having a deeper, more complex, almost gamey taste, while the grain-fed did not have the same depth of flavor at all; the grain-fed was definitely steak, but not one that made me want to eat another one immediately.  I could have eaten that grass-fed scrumptiousness all night long.

So, Grain-fed v. Grass-fed Steak? Grass-fed for the win!

Grain-fed v. Grass-fed Steak

{Grain-fed on left, grass-fed on right}

Apart from the differences in texture and flavor I found between these two steaks, there’s a whole bunch of other reasons that the Bailornator and I will always choose grass-fed over grain-fed beef whenever we can.  There’s a lot going on inside that cow that you can’t see or taste.  I could type for days about cows raised on hormone-laced corn and standing knee-deep in their own waste for months on end, but I am just going to stick to the health benefits of grass-fed.  I like focusing on the positive.

Grass-fed cows chomp on rich green grass packed with those fabulous Omega-3s all day long.  All that Omega-3 goodness gets passed right along to us when we eat it, providing an Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio of 3:1, which is significantly better than the 20:1 found in the average American diet.  This 3:1 ratio  has been shown to help prevent high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, triglycerides, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases

Grass-fed beef also contains 300-500 times more CLA than grain-fed beef.  CLA is the powerful polyunsaturated fat called Conjugated Linoleic Acid.  CLA has been proven to fight cancer in many studies, and is also sold as a fat burner.  The best forms of CLA are found in grass-fed beef, wild game, and lamb.

Finally, not that we’re counting, but 4oz of grass-fed beef has 100 fewer calories than it’s grain-fed counterpart, and is also higher in B-vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.  If you can, I thoroughly recommend buying grass-fed beef whenever you can.  Not only will your taste buds thank you, but so will your body.

And without further ado, here’s how to cook a perfect steak indoors without a grill.

Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!

 

 

Steak (without a grill)
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • Coconut oil
  • Steak
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
Instructions
  1. Remove steak from ‘fridge 2 hours before cooking to bring to room temperature, keeping covered.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  3. Season the steak on each side with sea salt and ground black pepper.
  4. Place coconut oil in a skillet (make sure it has an ovenproof handle) and heat on high until very hot.
  5. When the oil has started to steam, carefully lower steaks into pan and cook for 1 minute on each side.
  6. Place the skillet in the oven and close the door.
  7. Cook for 3 to 7 more minutes depending how you like your steak.
  8. Rare: 3 minutes
  9. Medium rare: 5 minutes
  10. Medium: 7 minutes
  11. Carefully remove pan from over using oven mitts – remember the handle is now 400F!!
  12. Let the steak rest for 2 minutes before serving.

Grain-fed v. Grass-fed Steak

PS. If it was not already clear in this post – Marx Foods provided me two steaks free of charge in order to conduct this comparison.  The other steak I purchased myself.  The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and not in any way biased towards Marx Foods.  I don’t lie in order to get free steak.

 

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  • Gary J Moss - Carrie, could you possibly use the same technique for steak as you do for a pork chop using your method — eliminating the coconut oil and placing the steak in a hot, dry pan?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - I don’t know, Gary. I took my lead from a chef, and it worked. I rarely eat steak at home so won’t have the opportunity to test it dry for a while.ReplyCancel

  • MargieAnne - Yay for NZ beef. We do it well most times.

    My Dad was a cattle and sheep farmer and we grew up on the best, often home killed. That meant we pretty much ate head to tail.

    I’ve never asked but I think it might be hard to find corn fed beef here.

    Of course the best beef comes from farms where they are not overloaded with chemicals, ie, organic but organic farmers are thin on the ground. Our beef and lamb meats are good but we have a long way to go to get most of our pork from happy pigs. Our dairy is superb if you can get away from low fat versions. It’s hard to find anyone selling raw milk …. very big No, NO here since TB was once a serious factor. Most dairy herds are still tested because there are wild animal, (possum), carriers. Chickens and eggs are a bit of a sad story. You have to search for truly free range and SuperMarket labels do not indicate just how free range the animals are. Finding a local source is best but not often possible.

    I’d love my next home to have space for a chickens as well as good soil for growing my own veggies. Most places we can grow something outside all year, especially silverbeet, (Swiss Chard).
    On the whole our food is good. It is easy to eat paleo and whole, real foods but it’s not cheap. We can eat for less in USA, except Hawaii, which seems crazy to us. It has a lot to do with being a small nation on the edge of the world, small population and high costs such as petrol, (gas). Do not fall over with shock when you read this. We now pay the equivalent of around $9.00 gal thanks to our crazy taxes.

    Farmer’s Markets usually tend to be on the boutique end with higher prices but lots of fun.

    Americans should be flocking to New Zealand to enjoy our beautiful country and pastured meat from animals living freely in our green paddocks, as nature intended.

    Thank-you for trying our beef steak and giving it a thumbs up.

    BlessingsReplyCancel

    • carrie - You’re welcome, MargieAnne! So good to have you here from NZ!!ReplyCancel

  • Gary J Moss - New Zealand lamb is available in some supermarkets here in New England, but I haver never seen New Zealand beef anywhere on the east coast.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - It doesn’t need to be from New Zealand, Gary, it just needs to be grass-fed. Also, I didn’t see why pork chops needed to be cooked differently to any other meat, but they do – if you want them to be super juicy that is. You learn something new every day! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Gary J Moss - Carrie, I don’t see why a beef steak would be very different from a pork chop in the pan, so I will simply try it sometime this week and let you know.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Hi Carrie, I enjoy reading your posts, find them interesting, but I’m still having problems cooking with coconut oil. I’ve tried several different brands, but still can clearly taste coconut and I’m only using around a tablespoon. Where am I going wrong??

    PS every coconut oil I’ve bought is more coconut fat, it is in a tub and certainly doesn’t poor as you would expect an oil to. Is yours the same?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Sarah – I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. The two coconut oils I have used have been tasteless, so I *think* it’s just a case of you finding one that works for you. Coconut Oil is liquid when it’s warm, but more solid (white) when it’s cooler.ReplyCancel

  • Kerry - Just for the record, you can buy good steak everywhere in England now. I cook my steak in a hot griddle pan and just put salt and pepper on it. I usually use thin steaks because they are a lot more tender.ReplyCancel

  • Nick - I did this and it turned out pretty well, however, my whole kitchen gets quite smokey when I do this even with the fan on and a window open. (the pan is clean, the oven is clean). Is this normal? Anyway to reduce the smoke?
    ThanksReplyCancel

    • carrie - Nick, I would turn the heat down a touch and see if that helps. Mine did not smoke much this time. Are you using coconut oil or some other oil?ReplyCancel

  • Sigi - @Sarah – I’m with you; the taste/smell of unrefined coconut oil makes me gag, and ruins food as far as I’m concerned. But you can get organic refined coconut oil which is completely tasteless – just make sure it’s mechanically refined (expeller pressed) rather than chemically refined. I believe it still has the same good cooking qualities and MCTs.
    And yes, unless you live in a warm climate, coconut oil is very solid. It suddenly turns to liquid at around 24-25 deg C. I’ve been in shops where the CO on the bottom shelf is white and solid, and up on the higher shelves (i.e. in the warmer part of the room) is clear and liquid – hilarious.ReplyCancel

  • cowgirl rae - YAY! Carrie likes grass finished beef. There is a difference in flavor and quality and NUTRITION!
    Having produced my own beef, pork and chicken and eggs most of my adult life, it always amuses me when people object to the flavor of natural meats, calling it gamey or off….. well people that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to taste!

    Carrie are you using naturally fed free ranging farm raised chicken eggs?
    If not why?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - I have no good answer to your question, Cowgirl. I just buy whatever eggs are at TJs. MUST. TRY. HARDER. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - I’m US Midwestern girl, born & bred and I know my steaks. But I’ll second Kerry’s comment that you can buy great steaks in the UK. In fact, most UK beef is grass-fed (even from the supermarkets). There are also some fabulous, small organic producers selling very high quality meat.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - I am thrilled to know you can get good steaks in England now! I’ve been away too long :-)ReplyCancel

  • MooseGeorge - Carrie,

    I HIGHLY recommend getting a grill. It adds a lot to the flavor of the beef.

    But even if you don’t, here’s another beef tip. When you pull the beef off the fire, coat it in butter before letting it set the 2 minutes. Trust me. :)ReplyCancel

  • SierraSun - I cook my steak both on the Foreman grill and in a pan. When I cook it in a pan – I start by sauteing garlic in butter and then adding the steak, which has been salted and peppered. It’s yummy.

    I do have to agree, the grass-fed beef is better than any beef I’ve ever had before.ReplyCancel

  • Baked Creamed Spinach » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] and 1lb of onions in one sitting.  Well, I expect I could’ve done had I not also had a fantastic grass-fed steak on my plate to polish […]ReplyCancel

  • Drew Thompson - Hi Carrie:

    In my opinion the best way to cook a steak without a grill is Sous Vide and then a quick minute on each side in a frying pan. This way the whole thickness of the steak is medium rare not just the bit in the middle:

    http://www.cutcookeat.com/foodblog/?p=261

    cheers
    DrewReplyCancel

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