It’s summer time! Fire up that barbeque! 

Many of us have made the switch to grassfed (or pastured) meats for health reasons. Meat from animals who graze on pasture is both leaner and rich in healthy fats, including CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and omega 3, an essential fatty acid. But we miss the tender meat of our childhoods (before we realized that those steaks and burgers Dad threw on the grill were from cows in CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations—animals in confinement), who were being fed grains and other things cows were not meant to eat. (And yes, these things continue to go on today, with the vast majority of meat in the US – only now the grain they are not meant to be eating is GMO and full of glyphosate!) Let’s explore how to make that expensive grassfed meat more tender.  

Tender grassfed meat can be achieved by attention to two things: marinating the meat ahead of time and learning how best to cook it. Since it’s summertime, we’ll focus on grilling. 

Homemade greek salad dressing or marinade in a glass jar

Marinating Grassfed Meat  

Marinating grassfed meat is very different from marinating grain-fed meat, in fact, it is the opposite of  what we have been taught about marinating since about WWIl. So, throw out those marinade recipes you have been collecting since the early 1950s – they will not work. They will do the opposite of  tenderizing and make the meat tough. Why is that, you ask?

Grain-fed meat (everything in that butcher case that is not marked “grassfed”; that is, all “conventional” meat) is fattier than grassfed, and the fat is different. It also has a high water content. That means we have to treat the meat differently. Grain-fed meat does well with high acid marinades; marinades made with more vinegar or wine than oil. Marinades meant for grain-fed meat will turn grassfed meat into shoe leather! 

What do we need to marinate grassfed meat? Grassfed meat does well with a good amount of raw, unrefined, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. In fact, just soaking it in olive oil, or olive oil with some fresh herbs, can be marinated enough. Simple, effective, and delicious!

You can easily make your own  marinades at home. They will be far better for you – and taste better – than anything you can purchase in the store. Making your own marinades keeps unwanted ingredients out (like unhealthy canola and /or soy oil), and ensures a high enzyme content if you use high quality, raw ingredients. It is the enzymes that  begin the digestion process and work to tenderize the meat.

Here’s what you need:

EVOO (mostly), acid (some), time (more is better than less), and coverage. Extras would be herbs and spices that you love. Certain spices marry well with beef. More on that below.  

We already covered the olive oil above, so what about “acid”? You could use wine, vinegar, citrus of any kind—lemon, lime, orange, etc.—tomato juice, buttermilk, whey, yogurt, wheat-free tamari, beet kvass, leftover kombucha. Remember that to make grassfed meat tender, you won’t need a lot of acid in relation to the amount of olive oil you use. 

Time:

When planning your menu, make a note to consider the size of the meat you will serve. Bigger  pieces of meat like roasts will benefit from marinating overnight to 24 hours or longer. Make sure the  meat is covered with the marinade. Steaks or thinner cuts can take an hour or just a few.  

Coverage:

It is very important to cover your grassfed meat with the marinade. If it is a roast or just too  big to cover (the amount of olive oil you would need would be prohibitive – EVOO is an expensive  ingredient), be sure to turn the roast once or twice every day until you are ready to cook it. Steaks can be covered with the marinade, or you can rub some into the meat and then let it work its magic. 

What about temperature?

If you are going to be marinating overnight or longer, into the refrigerator it goes. Note: it is always best to put raw meats on the bottom of the refrigerator, so in case of an  accidental spill no blood will contaminate your other foods. 

How much marinade do you need?

About ¾ -1 cup per pound of meat. A few of my favorite recipes follow. But first, let’s learn how to grill grassfed meat! 

Grilling Grassfed Meat 

Just a few things to keep in mind for tender grassfed meat:  

Grassfed meat should be eaten rare to medium rare. The habit of overcooking meat to medium or well done (to the texture of shoe leather) is a direct consequence of raising animals on feedlots. When animals are raised in confinement and processed in industrial facilities, it is a good idea to cook your meat until it  is gray inside. All sorts of virulent strains of bacteria have been found in factory farmed meat, so it is a safety precaution. However, for meat from animals raised on pasture that you purchase from a farmer you trust, it is not necessary (or advised) to overcook it. The suggested internal temperature for grassfed beef or bison is 20-30 degrees less than the USDA suggested temperatures for grain-fed/feedlot/factory farmed/conventional meat. Your thermometer should read 115-130° F.  

Cook on a Medium-Hot Grill.
Push all charcoal onto one side. (If you are using a gas grill, leave one side off.) Heat the grill to medium hot. How can you tell it is medium-hot? Use your hand—the grill is hot enough when you can hold your palm five inches above the metal grate for no more than 3 seconds.  

Sear and then Cook.
Sear 1 ½ inch thick steaks for 3 minutes on each side, with the lid down. Then, move the steaks to the side of the grill with no coals. Put the lid on, and let the steaks cook until the internal temperature is 115-130°F, about 12-20 minutes, depending upon the size of the steak.  

Let it Rest.
When the steak is done, let it rest for 5 minutes, under a parchment and aluminum foil tent. That’s it! Enjoy! 

Marinade Recipes  

The Simplest Marinades  

Cover your grassfed meat with any of the following:

  • Extra virgin, raw, cold pressed, unfiltered olive oil OR 
  • Whole plain yogurt or cultured buttermilk or whey OR 
  • Homemade salad dressing! (Salad dressings are great because they are made with EVOO and are generally in the correct ratios of more oil to acid.) 

Basic Herb Marinade  

makes 3/4 cup 

  • 1 bunch cilantro, parsley, basil, thai basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, or other green herb juice of 1 lemon 
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 
  • ½ cup olive oil 
  • freshly ground pepper, about ¼ tsp 

Process well in a food processor.  

Yogurt Marinade  

makes 1 cup 

  • 1 cup plain, whole yogurt 
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp coriander 
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed 
  • freshly ground pepper, about ¼ tsp 

Whisk in a bowl.  

Note: rinse the marinade off the meat before grilling.  

Asian marinade  

makes 1 cup

  • 1 T freshly grated ginger 
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed 
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 T rice vinegar 
  • 1 T sucanat or maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup wheat-free tamari or fish sauce 
  • A splash of orange juice, optional 

Whisk in a bowl.

I hope you enjoy your grassfed meat that is tender and delicious! 

For more information about how to prepare and cook grassfed meat, including lamb, pork, and bison,  see Stanley A. Fishman’s Tender Grass-fed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat. For information specific to grilling grassfed meat, see Shannon Hayes, The Farmer and the Grill: A Guide to Grilling, Barbequing, and Spit-Roasting Grassfed Meat.

Monica Corrado, MA, CNC, CGP is a teaching chef, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and Certified GAPS Practitioner who is passionate about illuminating the connection between food and well-being. A member of the Honorary Board of the Weston A. Price Foundation for almost 20 years, Monica is a dynamic teacher, speaker, consultant, and author who lives to share the tools, knowledge and inspiration to cook nourishing, traditional food. Monica is also The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome™) Chef”, and teaches cooking for the GAPS diet for Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS Training team.

www.simplybeingwell.com
FB: Simply Being Well: Cooking for Wellbeing
Twitter: @simplybeingwell
IG: mcsimplybeingwell

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Basic Herb Marinade for Grassfed Meat

Yield: 3/4 cup

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch cilantro parsley, basil, thai basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, or other green herb juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and minced
  • 12 cup olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper about ¼ tsp

Directions

  1. Process well in a food processor.

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Yogurt Marinade for Grassfed Meat

Source: Monica Corrado

Course: Condiments

Yield: 1 cup

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain, whole yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 3-4 garlic cloves peeled and mashed
  • freshly ground pepper about ¼ tsp

Directions

  1. Whisk in a bowl.
  2. Note: rinse the marinade off the meat before grilling.

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Asian Marinade for Grassfed Meat

Source: Monica Corrado

Course: Condiments

Yield: 1 cup

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1 T freshly grated ginger
  • 3-4 garlic cloves peeled and mashed
  • 34 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sucanat or maple syrup
  • 14 cup wheat-free tamari or fish sauce
  • orange juice A splash of - optional

Directions

  1. Whisk in a bowl.

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