Let’s cut to the chase. Some beef cuts are tender (think Tenderloin, Ribeye, Flat Iron, New York Strip) and some are a little more tough (Flank Steak, Top Round, Skirt Steak). They don’t have to stay that way, though. The tougher cuts really are tender at heart – they just need a little more TLC and voilà! You have a juicy, flavorful piece of beef to enjoy.
How can you tenderize and add flavor? With a marinade.
This week I had a Flank Steak to grill so I looked in my go-to beef recipe search engine, www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com, to see what I could throw together with what I already had on hand. This Ginger-Soy Marinade was the winner. It was tangy with a hint of sweetness.
Speaking of Flank Steak, visit Food52 and The Chew‘s Dan Churchill for more easy tips and 3 delicious sauces: The Perfect Flank Steak is Easy—and So Are These 3 Sauces.
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
- Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Place beef steak(s) and marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steak(s) to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to 2 hours for tender steaks; 6 hours or as long as overnight for less tender steaks, turning occasionally.
- Remove steak(s) from bag; discard marinade. Place steak(s) on grid over medium, ash-covered coals or over medium heat on preheated gas grill. Grill according to the chart for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.
- Pat steaks dry with paper towels to remove excess marinade to prevent flare-ups on your grill.
- If cooking a cut of beef with long muscle striations (like Flank Steak, Skirt Steak and Tri Tip), make sure to slice against the grain. This is very important! Read why here.
This week, Bass Aja of Pinal Feeding Co. offers his perspective on cattle feeding. Read on to find out why feeding cattle is so much more than just the obvious.
I grew up in Buckeye, Arizona, working with my grandfather on his sheep operation and his two ranches. It was there that I learned that all men are created equal, but are segregated by their own work ethic. He ran feeder lambs in the winter and spent most of the summer on the ranch that bordered the Navajo reservation north of Joseph City. Through the time I spent with him, I realized that I wanted to work with cattle, but realized on the ranch we spent the majority of our day working, but not necessarily with the cattle. At the same time, I saw my cousins who grew up on their feedlot, who got to work cattle almost every day, and not only that, they had facilities only found in the dreams of most ranchers. It was at this time I started to focus my energy on learning everything I could about the cattle-feeding community. It was fascinating to me how every week there was someone receiving and shipping cattle; how on any given day a person had the opportunity to identify and treat sick animals; and, most importantly – every day someone got to feed cattle.
This love of the cattle feeding industry only grew as I got older and led me to work for a couple of Arizona’s cattle feeding families, which landed my family and me in Maricopa, Arizona. The best part of my job is seeing the hard work from a team come together over a long period of time to produce a product that feeds the world. Watching this team come to work every day and put in the effort required to care for these animals is impressive. They come every day regardless of the weather. As a matter of fact, we are more focused when we have adverse weather conditions because it requires more attention to care for our cattle. They come ready to work on every holiday because the cattle still need to be fed and receive care. Cattle don’t take holidays. Every day, no matter what, the people here at Pinal Feeding wake up and go to work because the cattle in our care deserve it, and that is the best part of my job.
A program we use often in our work of caring for cattle is the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. Here at Pinal Feeding, we already strive to care for our cattle to the best of our ability, and this program offers nationally-based standardized training in proper management techniques while offering a commitment to quality. A large part of the beef community’s job involves making sure that beef is safe and wholesome for consumers. As a producer, we help maintain the standard by ensuring all of our employees are BQA certified.
The most important part of feeding cattle is not the cattle, it is the people – those who I mentioned above, who sacrifice time with their family and friends to come and run pumps in the middle of the night because we had too much rain. Or when we stay late because a water pipe broke and we cannot go home until we make sure every animal has water. I got into this business because I loved working with cattle, I stay because I love working with people who care for cattle.
All photos were provided by Bass’ wife, Anna Aja. Thanks, Anna!
For more information about BQA, see Animal Welfare is a Top Priority for Ameria’s Beef Producers.
This week we are excited to feature our 2016 Arizona Beef Ambassador’s Molli Griffin and Kailee Zimmerman. This article was originally printed in the August 2016 Arizona Cattlelog.
Arizona Beef Ambassadors are passionate youth advocates for the Arizona beef community. The winners are the official youth representatives of the Arizona State Cowbelles (ASC) and the beef community. The winners will travel the state sharing the story of beef from pasture to plate with consumers and students and will participate in the national contest.
The purpose of the program is to provide Arizona consumers and students with positive nutritional, economic and environmental stewardship information related to beef consumption and the beef community. Participants learn how to effectively address issues and misconceptions, accurately share industry practices and promote the versatile uses of beef.
In addition to receiving recognition for winning the Arizona Beef Ambassador Program, the senior winner receives a $1500 cash scholarship, awarded at the end of their term, and the opportunity to travel to statewide ASC and beef industry events. The Junior Beef Ambassador winner receives recognition and $50 cash award.
First up, meet Molli Griffin, 2016 Senior Arizona Beef Ambassador.
AC: Tell us about yourself.
MG: I am a fourth-generation cattle rancher from Globe. This year I will be finishing up an Associates Degree at Gila Pueblo College. I plan on enrolling at the University of Arizona in the fall of 2017, to pursue a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I have been and continue to be actively involved in FFA. I have been working with the Globe FFA Chapter on projects, contests and fundraising, and have been asked to assist with facilitating leadership events at the state level. This fall I will receive my American FFA Degree. I am currently working as a vet assistant at Copper Hills Veterinary Services, while I complete my Associate’s Degree.
AC: What do you think the biggest misconception consumers have about beef?
MG: I believe the biggest misconception that consumers have about beef is that it is not a healthy food choice in general. Whether they believe that beef is fattening, promotes clogged arteries, leads to heart disease, or is full of antibiotics or growth hormones, the general message in many media outlets is one of reducing or eliminating beef from the public diet. The only way to confront the steady stream of misinformation is to continue to promote the truth to consumers and the public, and work to ensure that the conversation is balanced.
AC: How do you plan to relate to and address consumers when you interact with them?
MG: I believe that consumers will relate to ideas and tips that focus on healthy food choices, spending sensibly, saving time, and helping them feel connected to where their food comes from.
AC: What tips do you have for ranchers for advocating?
MG: I believe that everyone involved in beef production needs to create high quality, nutritious products that appeal to the consumer. Getting involved and helping to tell the story of their beef locally, statewide, nationally (and internationally) is a key component to the future of the industry. Getting on board with social media sites and connecting with others, debunking some of the stereotypes and myths about the industry, as well as sharing the positive aspects of working and living on the land is another pathway. Finally, connecting with local schools and universities, and offering to host groups of students for a field day or work projects, helps build understanding and knowledge for students that might otherwise not have an opportunity to participate in the beef production story.
AC: What’s your favorite fact to share about beef?
MG: My favorite fact is that there really is no waste! I love that 99% of a cow is utilized for meat and other products.
AC: Any final comments?
MG: I am honored and privileged to serve as the Arizona Beef Ambassador. I am looking forward to spending the next year meeting others in our industry, learning more about beef in Arizona, connecting with consumers and sharing the beef story.
Next, meet Kailee Zimmerman, our 2016 Junior Beef Ambassador.
AC: Tell us about yourself.
KZ: My name is Kailee Zimmerman. I live in a small town west of Phoenix called Waddell. I am 15 years old and will be a sophomore at Trivium Preparatory Academy this year. Besides maintaining a 4.0 GPA in all honors classes, serving as the president of the youth organization at my church and being an active member of Arizona Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo Association, I have found my passion in the beef industry. My ancestors settled in the southeastern part of Arizona when it was just a territory. A successful Angora goat operation transitioned into a working cattle ranch. Our family raised polled Herefords that thrived in the valley of the Aravaipa Canyon in Klondyke. Now we raise show cattle and exhibit them all around the state. I have enjoyed being a member of Odyssey 4H and 2T Ranch Show team for 8 years. In the future, I would like to pursue a degree in Ag Law so that I will be able to be an ambassador and defender of the industry and people I am so proud of.
AC: What do you think is the biggest misconception consumers have about beef?
KZ: Many consumers believe organic, antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef to be the healthiest and that other beef products might be harmful or less nutritious to the consumer. Studies have shown that in a lean cut of beef, we are able to receive nearly half of our daily protein needed! A 3oz serving of lean beef has less than 10 grams of fat, less than 95 mg of cholesterol and provides you with important nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. These nutrients give you energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and help you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Organic beef means that the meat is fed certified organic feed, is antibiotic free and is not given substances to promote growth. In a world concerned about the humane treatment of animals, why would we deprive a sick animal the treatment it needs to heal and grow? Why would we not try to maximize the harvest of beef when our ranch lands are shrinking and more people are dependent on the beef that is produced? Sustainability is a huge concern facing ranchers today. In addition, most beef is finished with grain. Even cattle that are “pasture-raised” are often supplemented with grain to ensure that meat is desirable to the consumer. Studies have shown that grass-fed beef contains a slightly higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids, but is higher in saturated fat and trans-fat. There isn’t much difference from a health standpoint. However, there is a significant difference in the taste of the beef that is grass-fed versus grain-fed. It is a personal preference.
AC: How do you plan to relate to and address consumers when interacting with them?
KZ: I will be honest with the consumers about the “Pasture to Plate” story. It is important for them to know that their food does not just appear in the grocery store. I hope that I will be able to answer questions and clear up some incorrect information, leaving the consumers feeling more comfortable about the meat they are eating and the people who produced it.
AC: What tips do you have for ranchers for advocating?
KZ: In a lot of ways, the beef industry is the “best-kept secret.” Social media has grown into a huge web of communication. People no longer go to the source, but use their friend’s recent post to form an opinion or get information about something. The world is getting more and more distanced from where their food comes from. As an industry, we must work hard to promote the right information. It is important to be open about what we are doing so that rumors are not spread. We need to use social media as a tool to do this. The most important thing is just to share the good news – American farmers and ranchers produce healthy, high-quality food that feeds the whole world. They take pride in what they produce and feel they have a responsibility to take care of the land and the animals on it. We have a pretty great story – why not share it?
AC: What is your favorite fact to share about beef?
KZ: My favorite fact to share about beef is the values and work ethic that are emulated by the people that produce it! Not only is beef an incredibly nutritional option for our diet, but the story behind how it gets to our plate is also fascinating!
AC: Any final comments?
KZ: I know without a doubt that the beef industry is essential to the world. I have such admiration for the men and women who work tirelessly to feed not only their family but also families everywhere. They feel it is their duty to care for all of God’s creations as they are stewards of the land and the cattle that they raise.
We are pleased to re-blog this great post from Kids, Cows, and Grass in its entirety, with Debbie’s permission. Kids, Cows, and Grass is written by Debbie Lyons-Blythe, a cattle rancher in central Kansas, in the heart of the Flint Hills. Her blog is a wealth of information about how she and her family raise cattle. If you don’t already follow her, we highly suggest you do! Now on to your regularly scheduled programming…
A cow’s tongue is an amazing body part. A cow only has front teeth on the bottom of their mouth–the top is a hard pad, but no teeth. So in order to eat grass, a cow can’t bite it off like a horse, but they must rip it off with their tongue. So the grass must be tall enough for a cow to get a “grip” on it with her tongue, and then pull it into her mouth. She does have molars on the top and bottom, so she can grind the grass up. But first, the grass is rolled into a ball called a “bolus” and swallowed nearly whole. It goes into her largest stomach, the rumen, where it is partially broken down by bacteria and enzymes in the rumen. When a cow grazes, she busily tears grass and swallows it. Later she will lie down and relax and chew her cud–which means she regurgitates the boluses back into her mouth to chew them again. The chewed up grass then progresses through the other compartments of her stomach: the reticulum, omasum and abomasum.
Cows use their tongues for other things too–like licking their calves dry at birth. When a newborn calf is born, a cow immediately gets to her feet and begins licking him. This encourages circulation and respiration, and dries him at the same time.
After a calf grows, his mama continues to groom him with her tongue. You might even find cows licking each other on the head or neck. When a cow has an itch, she will use her tongue to scratch it! A cow’s tongue is very rough–nearly like sandpaper. Cows don’t lap water, but they may play in it with their tongue. To drink they suck the water up through their mouth.
When my kids show cattle, their calves often lick them for the salt in their sweat on their arms. It is not a sign of affection for a cow to lick a person, but it seems that way! I have never eaten cow tongue, but I know many cultures do value it. I found numerous recipes for it through a google search, but I haven’t tried any of them.
The long days of summer are well under way and we know how hard it can be to stay motivated during this time of the year. Check out our top five ways to stay healthy and in shape when just the thought of going outside makes you cringe.
Don’t Hike Camelback (or Any Other Trail in the Warm Part of Arizona) During the Middle of the Day in the Summer
We all know that person who prides himself on heading out to the trail in the middle of the afternoon during the summer. They are proud of the fact that they are going to lose their weight in body sweat just because they did it! This is not an activity recommended for the average person or even the super active person. It’s a good idea to change your workout routine according to the seasons. Take up swimming in the summer and save your hiking for the fall and spring.
Drink Lots of Water
This can’t be said enough, especially here in the extremely dry desert. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. Even if you’re not thirsty, drink some water. When you casually think about drinking water, do it. Seriously. Drink more water. Your body will thank you.
Keep the Menu Light and Fresh
A great way to stay cool during the summer is by keeping what you eat light and simple. A good, fresh summer salad is the Grilled Flank Steak and Peach Salad. The recipe calls for a few simple ingredients and it takes just a few minutes to prepare and combine all of those. Simple can still be flavorful. Expert Tip: Use the steak you cooked last night on the grill or leftovers from the steakhouse for today’s salad to save even more time.
Find What Works for You
Workout crazes seem to pop up every few minutes so finding what works for you is important. Try something out that looks interesting, like yoga or an outdoor boot camp, but don’t be afraid to try something different if the first attempt wasn’t for you. With so many different options, and free workouts online, there is always an option out there. The most important part of working out is actually getting out there to work!
It’s no secret that the agriculture world is changing. What was once predominantly considered a male occupation is quickly becoming a women’s world. As of 2012, there were close to 970,000 female farmers and ranchers in the United States. That means that over 30% of all agriculture producers across the country are women! Another statistic that might throw you for a loop; the majority of that group resides in either Texas OR Arizona. While Texas has the highest actual number of female farmers and ranchers, Arizona has the highest national proportion of female to male producers. Meaning, out of all farming operations in the state, female participation accounts for about 45% of that. This is compared to the national average of only about 27%. Go Arizona!
Cheslea Duree Brown is one of those Arizona females that plans on carrying on her family’s tradition of ranching for many more years to come. Not only does she love cattle, but she is a huge supporter of educating others about where their food comes from. Meet Chelsea!
I grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona working summers on my grandparent’s cattle ranch. My grandparents, Jim and Duree Shiew, are first generation ranchers so to speak. They started leasing the Chambers Ranch just northeast of Flagstaff in the late 1970’s from Ed and Rita Gannon. Originally, the land was just open country but they eventually fenced it in for ranch land in the early 1980’s. My mom, Jada Brown, and my Uncle Travis both grew up on the ranch and helped form it in the operation it is now. Today, we also have a forest permit for land east of Flagstaff as well as a ranch west of Wickenburg, which is primarily used during the winter months. All in all, we run about 500 mama cows depending on the year.
While ranching has always been in my blood, I didn’t originally intend on choosing agriculture as a career. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher but my senior year of high school I decided to major in something agriculture related instead. Four years down the road, I’m a proud alumni of the University of Arizona with a degree in Animal Sciences and an emphasis in business and production. In a way, I still am the teacher that I thought I was going to be. I came to college and chose the specific major that I did because I wanted to learn things that would be useful on the ranch and so that I could understand more of the business side of things as well. I learned a lot during my time at school, but I am a firm believer in the phrase “you can never learn too much.” What’s more, you have to be able to teach and share that knowledge with others.
I love being able to apply what I was taught in school to life on the ranch. I take opportunities and use them as teaching moments for my grandparents. Just a couple weeks ago, I was able to explain to them why a particular heifer, which seemed completely healthy otherwise, had never been able to reproduce; she had been a twin to a bull calf and was actually a free martin heifer. Free martin heifers are infertile due to the male hormones it is exposed to during gestation. Teaching my family about what I’ve learned is the easy part, however. They come from an agriculture background and understand what I’m trying to tell them. The more difficult side of things is educating the general public. While my passion for the cattle industry comes from growing up around it, my passion for “AG-VOCATING” came after spending time in Tucson. That is when my eyes were opened to all the issues going on in the ag-world and how little people knew about the things they were eating!
You’d be surprised how many people have absolutely no idea where their food comes from. They honestly believe it just comes from the grocery store and that it just magically shows up there. Even supplying people with fun little facts and tidbits goes a long way. For example, the label “ANTIBIOTIC FREE” on poultry products is 100% true. However, by law, chickens are not allowed to receive any antibiotics. Yes, that chicken breast is indeed free of any antibiotics but so is everything else. People don’t understand some things are just used as a marketing gimmick!
Agriculture is not meant for the faint of heart; it truly is a way of life. It’s not like other jobs where you can leave the office, go home, and really be done for the day. Ask just about anyone, the work always comes home with you. Yes, a huge portion of that work is directly farm or ranch related BUT another big part is being able to educate others on where exactly their food comes from and all of the hard work that goes into supplying the world with healthy, nutritious, and safe meat. As agriculturalist, we not only wear the “producer cap” but the “teacher cap” as well. It’s so important to learn as much as you can and use that knowledge to teach others.
We couldn’t agree with you more on that one, Chelsea!
Blog post by Michelle Allen, Arizona Beef Council and Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association 2016 Summer Intern
An often unknown segment of the food business involves distribution. How does food get from one place to another? From whom do restaurants buy food? By a foodservice distributor, that’s how! The Arizona Beef Council is fortunate to work with Arizona food distributors for educational opportunities to further educate chefs and restaurateurs about beef and how it is raised in Arizona. Meet Brent Olsen, US Foods Arizona, whose job is to connect the food growers with chefs and restaurants.
ABC: What is US Foods and what does it have to do with beef?
Brent Olsen: US Foods Arizona is a full line distributor of over 11,000 items serving the hospitality and restaurant industry in Arizona. There are 62 US Foods locations across the United States. Stock Yards is a wholly owned subsidiary of US Foods and operates 14 USDA inspected production facilities across the United States. In geographic areas not served by those locations, we contract with other facilities not owned by us to produce product for us. It may be of interest to know the US in our name actually stands for Unifax-Sexton, part or our heritage company portfolio. We have two Stock Yards production facilities in Arizona – one in Phoenix and the other in Tucson. The Phoenix location stocks and fabricates a wide variety of fresh proteins for the Arizona market and we supply products to other US Foods houses as far east as Little Rock, Arkansas. Stock Yards Phoenix focuses on domestic cattle and we deliver packer boxes of fresh beef as well as fresh cut steaks to the Arizona market 6 days a week. Stock Yards Chicago, one of our sister locations, is credited with being the first business in America to offer a cut steak program to Chicago area restaurants in 1893, almost 125 years ago. Our Tucson location produces a wide range of cooked items, including a wide range of pastrami, corned beef, roast beef, and pot roasts, in a wide variety of beef quality grades.
ABC: When did the food distributor segment start and how much has changed?
BO: The food distributor started in the late 1800’s and has basically moved from a group of small, regional, segment-specific companies to a huge network of much larger, full line suppliers offering anything a restaurant owner could need or want (anything from canned tomatoes to Prime Ribeyes). US Foods, as it is today, is the culmination of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place over the last 100 years. Stock Yards was also formed from a variety of specialty meat companies across the United States. Stock Yards is really fulfilling an emerging need for portion control, cut steaks, the talent pool of qualified meat cutters out there, whether at retail or foodservice, is rapidly disappearing.
ABC: How is foodservice different from retail?
BO: There are some big differences between the two industry segments. First, we market to restaurants, companies that are preparing the raw material for their customers to consume. Retail is marketing to household consumers. Secondly, a retail store will typically offer one grade of beef, whether it be USDA Select or USDA Choice. Foodservice is considerably more diverse with our offerings. On a strip loin steak, for example, Stock Yards Phoenix has 7 different and distinct offerings for that item. Those offerings range from USDA Prime cattle to an enhanced, ungraded, fed Holstein cattle line. Third, there are significant volume differences between retail and foodservice. Foodservice does not run weekly newspaper ads featuring beef, but we do create and promote special pricing and product offerings on a regular basis.
ABC: Who are your main customers?
BO: Our customers range from a single location, owner-operated café in a small Arizona town to multi-unit regional and national footprint customers that are state and nationwide. We supply products and services to schools, hospitals, Indian gaming locations, convention centers, caterers and restaurants across Arizona.
ABC: What are some of the common questions about beef you receive from customers?
BO: There is a dramatic increase in interest from consumers about where food comes from. Food safety is at the forefront as well. As a USDA Inspected facility, we interact with the local USDA inspector on a daily basis to insure we’re providing safe, wholesome food to our customers. We are also GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certified, the first facility of our type to have this certification in Arizona. There is also increased interest in quality grades, animal welfare, and “natural” offerings. Part of our goal is to help all of our customers understand what is available, and help them determine what works best for their format, customer base, and dining segment expectations.
ABC: Is there anything else you would like to share with Arizona’s rancher audience as well as consumers?
BO: Keep raising high quality beef. It’s the back bones of what we do, collectively, to provide a great eating experience for the restaurant segment we service. I’d really like to see more frequent, meaningful interaction between the ranchers, growers and our side of the business.
ABC: Will you share a little of your background? How long have you been selling beef?
BO: I started my beef career in a small mom-and-pop corner grocery store in Utah in 1969. We sourced our carcass beef from a small, local packer, and that’s where I picked up the trade. I’ve had a wide spectrum of positions in grocery retail, grocery wholesale, as well as foodservice. I’ve always worked with beef, and I love this industry and the people I’ve met wherever I’ve worked. With my current role, I travel the western United States and promote beef with a wide range of customers, and train about our products and promote our industry whenever possible.
ABC: What is your favorite cut of beef?
BO: I’m a strip loin man, through and through. It’s all about the flavor, and I’m never disappointed with a nice New York cut. A nice, juicy burger is at the top of my list as well. Keep it simple, with high quality there’s no need to hide or mask it with spices or toppings.
Brent is a journeyman meat cutter, beef lover (that shouldn’t be a surprise), and promoter of the cattle industry. He’s a pretty good water skier, as well.
Back in 2010, Lady Gaga put on an entire dress made of meat for the MTV Video Music Awards. She had her own reasons for it (and it actually wasn’t to put down animal agriculture) but little did she know; she wasn’t the first person to wear a meat dress! The first meat dress appearance happened here, in Arizona, at the Arizona National Livestock Show, an annual event featuring youth from around the country and their livestock. The first Arizona National Livestock Show occurred in 1948 and happens each year, right after Christmas.
The first meat dress was worn by Rhonda Lawrence and Marian Callas, home economists from the Arizona Public Service. The Arizona Beef Council sponsored a series of beef cooking classes at the 1970 Arizona National Livestock Show and these “meat” dresses helped show off the beef primals (a piece of meat initially separated from the carcass of an animal during butchering, such as the chuck, round, and loin) and how cuts from each area had different characteristics and qualities. Much like Lady Gaga’s meat dress, these also made a splash and were even featured on the cover of the January 1971 edition of the Arizona Cattlelog.
But why would people wear these dresses in the first place? We’ve listed out the important reasons. I promise if you give this a read, your next grilling event (4th of July, anyone) will be a huge success.
- Not all cuts of beef are created equally
While all the different cuts of beef contain the same nutrients (think zinc, iron, protein, and seven others), they do not have the same texture, muscle direction and length, or marbling. For example, cuts from the chuck tend to be full of flavor but lack tenderness. When you think about where the chuck is located on the animal (shoulder) and think about how much work that area of the animal does during its lifetime, it starts to make more sense why these muscles are a little on the “not as tender as a tenderloin” side. (Insert caveat: there are many great cuts from the chuck which are extremely tender, like the flat iron.) But guess what! They are still easily enjoyed with the right preparation and cooking methods. Here is more info on the other primals and what they have to offer: Beef Heaven.
- Know your cut of beef and follow the right cooking method
You thought I was going to leave you high and dry on that last one? Ye of little faith.
This one is probably the most important point. If you know your cut of beef, prepare, and cook it the right way, you are on your way to sweet steak success. There are so many resources out there about cooking your beef the right way, but the Interactive Butcher Counter is my favorite. It’s simple, easy to use, and includes all the info you need, plus recipes! You have many options when using this tool. You can ask it to guide you to the right cut for your needs (ex: I want to have a BBQ this week but I need something inexpensive) or you can simply type in the name of the cut you bought at the grocery store yesterday and it will lead you right to the info you need.
- Cooking beef is easy.
Yes, it is. Don’t argue. You just need to have the right tools.
Not for lack of trying from the various motherly figures in my life, I didn’t possess many cooking skills (#Iamatruemillenial). Take out food worked just fine for my husband and I. But once I realized how much money we were spending on take out and the many resources available to me to make even better tasting food at home, I started down the “I’m going to learn how to cook” road. But I wouldn’t have been brave enough without Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner, the Interactive Butcher Counter, and my husband and his taste bud’s support. Of course, things like Pinterest, help out as well. From one non-chef to another, try out something easy first, like burgers, and work your way up. It’s worth it. Your wallet and taste buds will thank you.
One of the beauties of ranching is that it takes all kinds of kinds to raise beef and to care for the land. Some folks are born and raised on a ranch and stay there their whole lives. Others take a different path to this way of life. Regardless, the passion and dedication is the same. Meet Pamela Griffin, Arizona cattlewoman and current Arizona State Cowbelle President.
You never know when you may find yourself in the beef industry and I’m living proof. I was born in Anaheim, California surrounded by orange groves and strawberry fields. We moved to Arizona in 1974. We had sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, horses, a steer, my pheasant named “Peeps” and a few dogs. I left Arizona twice, but returned and was never able to shake this beautiful state. I spent most of my working life managing large scale communities with multimillion dollar budgets in the infrastructure and construction phase of those communities through transitions. You wouldn’t think that would easily translate into becoming a beef rancher, but it in fact does. I rearranged my tool box and used my tools in a different way.
As I fast forward to today, I’ve found myself as an Arizona cattlewoman. Not in a tremendous scale, but a rancher nonetheless. I met my husband about a decade ago, and he convinced me he was the one, and his family’s historic ranch was the place. The family business has been in operation for over 100 years, passed down through generations. He and I began our own smaller venture raising beef in hopes to provide some additional benefits for our combined children in the future and to subsidize our income.
Having some livestock growing up and being on a full-time beef ranch are two different worlds. There is never one day that’s like the other and each day provides opportunity to meet new challenges and situations head on. There must always be a plan “B”. Personal plans sometimes cannot be kept due to a change in circumstances at a moment’s notice and vacations are sometimes few and far between. I do learn something new every single day on the care of the cattle, the wildlife, the land and its resources. My husband is a great teacher and a wonderful resource.
My participation in becoming a rancher came with some added responsibilities and some passions. It was important for me to participate in organizations that work hard to provide scientific and proven strategies for management of the cattle, the wildlife and the land. An additional responsibility is sharing information as often as possible on our practices, how we run our ranch and how we care for everything living on the land. We are providing a product for customers who in many cases 3-4 generations from the farm or ranch. We cannot expect that they know or understand what we do or how we care for our product and its resources, or what our days are like unless we share that with them.
When you love what you do, the sacrifices you make to live remotely, not having some of the modern conveniences, to be flexible in plans, work long days, get up before the sun, and to bed well after it’s down, are priceless things. I love my life. There is beauty everywhere. You learn to turn work moments into an adventure and it’s always a treat. A late afternoon of checking waters can become a lovely nighttime drive home. I do get in some gardening, some canning and a little quilting. It is definitely a choice you must love and I wouldn’t change a thing…except for more fishing, I could always do some more fishing, in Alaska!
If you follow us on Facebook, you know we love a catchy phrase, so this week we are implementing another one. Fresh Cut Friday won’t be every week, but when something fresh and fun pops up, we’ll talk about it. This week’s feature is one of my all-time favorites. By favorites, I mean talk-about-it-as-often-as-possible-with-whoever-will-listen-long-enough-to-hear-about-it favorite.
The Flat Iron. A cut which is shrouded in mystery and misnomers and might be met with blank stares when you ask for it at your local butcher counter, but one which should not be missed. This cut of beef, which is from the chuck, is an oxymoron. If you know anything about beef and the cuts that come from the beef animal, you know cuts from the chuck are known for their lack of tenderness. But then you have the Flat Iron. It’s not tough, in fact, it is the second most tender cut of beef in the
ENTIRE animal. Yup, that’s right. Right after the tenderloin, the known ruler of beef, sits our lowly, straight from the chuck, Flat Iron.
This cut was first introduced in 2002 and didn’t gain much notoriety until 2008. Even still, it’s a cut which is often impersonated (meaning it’s not cut the proper way) or simply isn’t even known but things are looking up! The Flat Iron, also known as the Top Blade steak, is cut from deep inside the shoulder muscle (aka the chuck), and was used as roasts or ground beef. If you’re a beef nerd, similar to myself, and want to know how to cut this thing at home, check out this video.
This area of the animal is flavorful and juicy, but it had a flaw. A big ol’ piece of connective tissue running straight through the middle. By realizing the simple removal of the connective tissues created two pieces of beef which encompassed the great attributes offered in this area of the animal which offering an easier eating experience, we ended up with another delicious cut of beef which can be afforded by an average family.
How do you cook this thing? One of my most favorite recipes is the Cowboy Coffee Rub . First of all, it’s easy. And quick. Bonus, you get a slight caffeine rush, depending on what sort of coffee you use, after eating so you are ready to do those dishes! Often times, I will have leftovers so I save it for lunch and put it on a bed of greens for lunch the next day.
There are MANY ways to cook this delicious piece of beef so be sure to check out more recipes on Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. Trust me, once you try this cut, it’ll be hard for you to cook anything else!