BASIC OF BEEF
Which is better, grass-fed or grain-finished beef?
This is an ongoing debate, and there is a lot of information on the topic - some of which is directly contradictory. Some will say that the complexity of flavor is more pronounced in grass fed beef and some say that the marbling and rich flavor is better in grain fed beef. Some say that grass feeding is more natural and results in better nutrient value in the meat while other studies show grain fed beef is just as rich in nutrients and although lower in Omega-3 fatty acids is also lower in saturated and trans-fat. Rather than make a definitive statement on which is better, we at QB Food will just leave that up to the individual to decide for themselves. That is why we carry both grass fed and grain fed beef. The choice is yours. To us, they are both delicious!
How can I make my beef more tender?
The less tender cuts of beef can be tenderized using several methods. The oldest one is by pounding. I have fond memories of my mother hammering away at our dinner with loud bangs coming from the kitchen. Chilling the meat in a freezer and then taking it out just before it gets frozen can help that process along. Use the toothy side of the meat-tenderizing mallet with a piece of plastic wrap on the meat to prevent a mess. This method is great for working off stress. ;)
Another method that may be a bit more civilized and can add some nice flavor is to marinate the meat before cooking using an acidic ingredient such as lemons, limes, vinegars, wines, ginger, etc. Marinade from between 2 and 24 hours. These acids help break down muscle tissue and make the cut more tender.
Finally, there are commercially available meat tenderizers to sprinkle on. They work well.
Cooking the cut of beef according to the proper cooking method for that cut also will give you maximum tenderness. And remember, not every cut needs to be tenderized. Cuts such as flank steak need help, but the better the cut, the more tender it will be. Go for the good ones! You deserve it.
Is there a need to rinse off beef prior to cooking?
Most times, beef (and even poultry) should NOT be rinsed before cooking. Doing this would mean the meat could become waterlogged, making it soggy and less flavorful. Almost all meat is ready to use right out of the package. The resulting high temperature reached during cooking destroys any bacteria that are potentially on foods. The best way to tell if meats and poultry have reached proper doneness temperatures is to use a digital rapid-read thermometer to check the internal temperature in the center of the food. To destroy harmful bacteria, beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 55 degrees Celsius (130º F).
Some recipes suggest that beef get to room temperature before cooking, is this safe?
NO! The internal temperature of roasts and steaks sitting on the counter top can rise to dangerous levels where bacteria can multiply, especially in the tropics. Always keep meat refrigerated prior to cooking.
I've heard you shouldn't season beef with salt before cooking, but some recipes call for this – what is best?
The practice of salting before cooking has long been debated; with concerns this would toughen and dry meat. It’s true that meat allowed to stand after salting does have increased loss in juices. However, there are benefits. Steaks salted shortly before cooking had lower moisture loss and scored higher for flavor, browning, juiciness and overall tenderness. So seasoning before cooking can create more complex flavors.
Do I have to sear my steaks so they are moist?
This has often been debated but the real truth is that searing does nothing to make a steak moist. Moisture moves easily through a sear so it really can’t keep meat moist. What searing actually does is build complex flavor by caramelizing sugar and protein molecules in the meat. So go ahead and sear it to lock in those flavors and add the complexity.
My beef looks discolored. Is it bad?
Freshly cut beef is usually cherry red in color. When the surface of the meat is exposed to oxygen it starts to turn darker red, even gray. If the meat is slightly discolored or oxidized, it isn’t bad but should be cooked as soon as possible. Always refrigerate and freeze meat in cling film without air pockets to prevent discoloration or freezer burn.
Can I defrost my beef at room temperature?
No. Do not defrost beef at room temperature, especially in the tropics where ambient temperatures can be near 30 degrees Celsius (86º F). Defrost in the refrigerator, to prevent bacterial growth, which can cause sickness. Some thin cuts can go from freezer to pan and don’t require defrosting. Thicker slices and whole pieces will need defrosting. To properly defrost beef, place the package on a tray to catch any drippings. Use the following times as a guideline:
Allow 12 to 24 hours to defrost steaks, depending on thickness.
Allow 4 to 7 hours per pound to defrost large roasts or thick compact pot roasts.
Allow 3 to 5 hours per pound to defrost small roasts or thin pot roasts.
Beef, the Healthy Choice
According to some renowned cardiologists, eating lean protein helps to curb hunger while allowing your body to maintain muscle mass. At about 55 calories per 30 grams (1 ounce), lean beef is an excellent source of protein.
Nutritionists also argue that the most common nutritional deficiency on the planet is iron deficiency. Beef is a very good source of iron. Additionally, the iron in beef is more biologically available than iron from other sources.
Another common nutritional deficiency is zinc. Beef is also a very good source of zinc, with approximately 25% absorbed by the human body.
Moreover, beef also provides a notable amount of selenium to the diet, a nutrient critical to the human antioxidant defense system.
Vitamin B12 is essential to development and can only be found naturally in animal derived foods such as beef.
Additionally, vitamin B6 is necessary for the absorption of amino acids and is also found in beef.
Regarding amino acids, red meats such as beef are a dense source of these protein precursors.
Fat consumption has a negative stigma, but a closer evaluation indicates that properly proportioned fat consumption plays a very important role in the maintenance of human physiology and development. There has been a great deal of recent interest in the beneficial effects of the very long chain polyunsaturated acids, in particular eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).. Anti-atherogenic, anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects have been noted with consumption of these specific nutrients.
As with any food, you want to purchase the best product you can afford and purchase from reputable sources (QB Food!).
Meat grading is a voluntary system used as a guideline to identify the tenderness, marbling and overall palatability of the meat. In the United States for instance, U.S. Prime beef is considered the top grade. Prime beef is aged longer, produced in small quantities and comes at a premium price.
U.S. Prime - best grade of beef that comes from steers, heifers or young bulls. This is a small percentage of the meat that is produced in the U.S. Most of this goes to restaurants.
Australian beef is usually graded on the AUS-MEAT Marbling system. It provides an indication of the amount of marbling in beef. It uses a scale of 0 (no intramuscular fat) to 9 (extreme amounts of intramuscular fat) in increments of 1. Most fresh exports from the country, like the ones QB Food buys are towards the higher numbers.
In recent years, many people have become concerned about hormones ending up in their beef. It is true that cattle may be given either synthetic or natural hormones to increase beef production. Almost all countries use hormones as a way to produce better beef. However, actual levels between non-hormone cattle and those which have the supplement is usually negligible. And by the time the animal goes to harvest, all hormone supplements have usually been eliminated from the beef.
If hormones are still a concern for you, there are brands that are raised hormone free. At QB Food, our Kilkoy Ebony brand Black Angus is Hormone free.
Around the world, health organizations have approved certain classes of antibiotics that can be used to either prevent or treat disease in cattle. There is a required withdrawal period before the cattle can be harvested, and there should be no residual antibiotic in the meat. While most ranchers are actively trying to limit the use of antibiotics, there still is a need to treat sick cattle with the medicine – just as humans sometimes need the assistance of antibiotics to cure an illness. It can also prevent a disease from decimating a herd, which is a good thing.
You should choose the correct cut of beef for the right cooking method. High heat, for example, should only be used on tender cuts of beef, which more often than not are the more expensive cuts, e.g., rib-eye. Tougher beef, which tend to be the cheaper cuts, responds best to low and slow cooking methods. Following the correct cooking method ensures that you get the best texture and flavour out of your cut of beef.
Grilling and Pan-fried Steaks
One of the most popular methods for cooking steaks is grilling or pan-frying. This type of cooking produces tender and juicy steaks. Cuts that are best for this method of cooking are from the loin and the rib sections of beef, and like their roasting counterparts, these cuts tend to be some of the most expensive. If you prefer well done meat, then cut thinner steaks, around 12 mm are best. If you’re a beef affectionado and love your beef pink, or rare in the middle, then thicker cuts are best, from 25 to 35 mm.
The less expensive steaks are the rump steak, skirt steak and flank steak. If pan-fried or grilled to rare or medium rare, these can be very tasty and succulent. However, if cooked more they tend to become dried out and much less tender.
Roasting beef is perhaps one of the easiest and oldest methods for cooking. You want to cook large, whole pieces of meat. The best roasts are from the loin and rib primal cuts. They are very tender and yes, some of the most expensive. These cuts include strip loin, tenderloin and rib eye. They are best cooked by the dry roasting method. Care, however should be taken not to overcook the meat.
Cuts such as the rump and chuck can also be used for roasting but will not be as tender as the rib cuts. Slice thin when serving.
Braising or Stewing
A favorite of slow and low moist cooking is the humble pot roast. A pot roast is basically a cut of beef that is seared, and then braised in a pot’s liquid. The pot can also contain wine, aromatics and vegetables, which help complete this dish and can add a rich, earthy flavour. Chuck, blade and round cuts are most often used for this classic fare. The chuck cut has more fat than the round, which often makes it much more flavourful than round roasts. Besides adding flavour, the slow and wet cooking method adds moisture and flavour to the meat. It also breaks down connective tissue and muscle so that even tough pieces of meat can be broken apart with a fork.
By its very nature, stir-frying requires fast cooking at high heat, so use cuts like tenderloin, rib eye, and sirloin work best. Cut the beef into small thin strips and remove any excess fat. Strips allow the meat to cook fast, thoroughly and evenly.
To save money, you may use, less expensive cuts, such as chuck, skirt and flank, but they should be tenderized before stir-frying. Tenderizing can be accomplished by pounding the meat with a serrated hammer, which helps to break up muscle tissue or by marinating. Cutting the meat on the bias, across the grain also makes beef even more tender.
Stewing is different than braising. In a stew you fully submerge the meat in a liquid or broth, while braising means that a small amount of liquid is present. Thankfully, some of the less expensive, leaner cuts of meat are the most flavourful. Chuck tender is a lean cut that is perfect for stewing. Other great alternatives for stew meat are those that have more marbling and connective tissue such as the shin/shank, oxtail and brisket.
Any tough or lean cut cooks great and becomes tender with slow, moist cooking. That’s because the low temperatures break down the connective tissue in the meat, which make the meat tender. High heat would have the opposite effect and make the beef tough, almost inedible.
QB Food Beef
QB Food sources the highest quality beef air-flown in for freshness and priced attractively in order to give the consumer superior value, nutrition and taste enjoyment. We only source from suppliers focused on the humane treatment of animals and offer grass fed, grain fed and hormone free product.
MULWARRA supplies quality free-range grass fed beef sourced from Australia’s premier cattle regions in the eastern states of Victoria and New South Wales. All cattle are sourced according to strict guidelines, focusing on quality and consistency and categorized as Select Beef, Young Prime Beef or Prime Steer Beef grades according to individual customer requirements.
Mulwarra supplies quality grain fed beef sourced from accredited feedlots in eastern Australia. Cattle are fed between 100 to 120 days on a natural grain ration and finished to stringent specifications, which ensure superior and consistent quality.
SANGER product offerings consist of branded beef grades such as Wagyu, Angus, grain fed and grass fed beef, farm specific supply chain brands, veal, lamb and chicken. These products are sourced from over 100 highly valued supply chain partners who have enabled Sanger to offer customers an end-to-end solution.
Ebony is produced from carefully selected prime quality Black Angus cattle and grain finished for 100 days. Ebony Black Angus delivers a juicy, marbled, tender and flavorsome eating experience.
- Hand selected Black Angus cattle
- Grain Fed
- Juicy, marbled & tender
- Hormone Free
- 100-day grain fed beef
- Free from Hormone Growth Promotants
Golden Jubilee: A jewel in the Kilcoy Crown, Golden Jubilee is 100-day Grain Fed Beef that’s enjoyed ongoing success in the market for many years.
- 100-day grain fed beef
- Superior flavor & tenderness
- Well renowned brand
- Highly Regarded
Iowa Premium handpicks cattle from family farms in Iowa and its neighboring Midwest states as close to their Tama, Iowa facility as possible - ideally within a 150-mile radius. Iowa Premium selects only Black Angus cattle exhibiting the finest quality characteristics. Black Angus cattle are recognized for yielding beef with a greater degree of quality marbling. Marbling, the plentiful snow-white flecks of fat finely dispersed in bright cherry-red beef, is the telltale sign for exceptional flavor, tenderness and juiciness – the leading factors in a remarkable beef eating experience. Selected cattle have been fed a diet that consists of locally sourced forages and corn. Corn imparts a savory rich flavor unmatched by any other feed.
Iowa Premium partners with farm families who share our passion for cattle quality, our commitment to animal welfare and our dedication to sustainability.
Together, the farm families that raise our cattle along with the family of Iowa Premium employees that select, trim and package our beef are dedicated to providing the highest quality beef in the country.