A few weeks ago, I got to eat steak. Not just any steak, but a delicious rib-eye steak grilled perfectly, topped with a mushroom-balsamic glaze and served with a side of sautéed kale. Sounds amazing, right?
Sprouts Farmers Market invited me (and and handful of other Denver bloggers) to geek out on steak at its #UnitedWeGrill event. The event took place at the Colorado Beef Council HQ, which is based in Centennial, Colorado (minutes from my home). I enjoyed a complimentary steak meal as well as was compensated for my time to attend the event and write this post. Please see my disclosures for more information about my policy regarding working with brands.
So let’s back up a bit. I may have gotten a little ahead of myself with all the steak talk.
I’ve always been on the fence about steak. The nutrition science behind steak is confusing, and I have to admit, I’m a little intimidated when it comes to properly preparing steak. Plus, I’ve been really questioning the role of animal products in my life. I know I need them, but I do want to try harder to eat less meat. A documentary called, What the Health, scared me.
However, I can’t deny that there are many nutritional benefits to eating meat, and for me, my body craves meat. I don’t think I’d last as a vegetarian for very long.
So my goal is to eat meat responsibility, only on occasion, and if its grass-fed and pasture-raised (at least as much as possible – it’s harder to do when eating out). Sprouts makes it easy to eat beef responsibility at home because all its beef is pasture-raised and grass-fed. Check and check.
At the #UnitedWeGrill event, we learned about how to shop for, prepare, store and cook meat properly. It was a fantastic lesson for this impressionable home cook.
After the learning sessions came the challenge. We were to cook up our own steak meal and take photos of it.
“Me, cook steak?” I thought to myself. Gulp.
While other bloggers were using the grill to cook up their steaks, I didn’t want to risk the cross contamination. So I prepared my boneless rib-eye on a clean grill pan over gas heat. I realized that the thickness of the beef really matters. Sprouts provided us with 3/4 in cuts, which cooked up quickly and evenly, 7-9 minutes on each side.
I took a few minutes to salt my beef while the grill pan heated up. I normally would want to salt it for at least 20 minutes ahead of cooking, but I didn’t have the time to wait. (I learned the importance of salting in the book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.)
As the steak cooked, I cut up some shallots and portabella mushrooms and set them aside. Once the steak was cooked through, I added the shallots and mushrooms to the grill pan to cook in the juices left behind by the steak. After about two minutes, I added balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. After a minute, I had myself a delicious, flavorful brown sauce to pour atop my juicy steak. Just look at how juicy that steak is – yummy!
I also used a clean pan to sauté some fresh kale with some Kosher salt. I love kale – it offered a great way to jazz up this meal and offered a side of super greens!
The event was fun, but more importantly, I learned so many things about beef. I want to share a few things I learned, as well as some of my thoughts when it comes to beef’s nutrition punch:
- Grass-fed beef means the cow spent the majority of its life eating grass on pastures. These animals are soaking in the sun the way nature intended them to do.
- If beef is labeled “natural,” it means the beef does not contain any additives and is not more than minimally processed.
- Grain-finished cattle spend most of their lives grazing in the pasture, but are given grains at the end of their life.
- Beef also can be “certified organic.” This means the cattle can be grain or grass-fed as long as the feed is 100 percent organic.
- USDA Prime beef has the most marbling and is usually sold to high end restaurants and speciality markets.
- USDA Choice beef has less marbling and are the most widely available grade in supermarkets.
- USDA Select beef has the least amount of marbling and is leaner, less juicy and less flavorful than the other grades.
One of the most interesting parts of my beef lesson came when we talked about how to properly store beef. I usually freeze beef in its original packaging. This is a no-no. Beef should be stored in a freezer safe bag. It should be removed from the styrofoam plate before freezing too.
Beef that is frozen should be defrosted in the refrigerator for 1-2 days or however long is needed. Never defrost beef at room temperature. Beef should be stored on a tray or plate when defrosting to catch any leaky juices. If you need to speed up the defrosting process, you can leave your beef in an ice water bath.
Best Beef Cuts for Grilling
Because it’s grilling season, I thought I’d share with you what the Colorado Beef Counsel says are the best cuts for grilling:
- Strip steak
- Beef is a good source for protein, iron, selenium, vitamins B6 and B12, zinc and niacin, among other nutrients. Keep in mind, however, that you can get so many of these essential nutrients from plant-based foods too, after all, animals eat these foods to create the complete proteins and nutrients that they pass on to us. (Except essential B vitamins, which require animal foods or supplementation.) For example, kale has more iron than beef and broccoli has more protein.
- Grass-fed vs. Grain-finished nutrition is nearly identical when it comes to protein, zinc and iron, however grain-finished beef has less omega-3 and more omega-6 fatty acids than grass-finished beef. While this is not usually a problem when it comes to a steak, keep in mind that Americans eat WAY more omega-6 fatty acids, usually found in animal products as well as unhealthy oils, than omega 3 fatty acids. Balance is key – you want to eat a good ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s for optimal health.
Overall, I enjoyed learning about beef and am open-minded to all food sources. Even though I come from a more holistic mindset, I believe in individuality and am working hard to be what I call “food neutral,” generally understanding that everyone is different and requires different nutrients to function wholly.
I personally believe that everyone has to eat in a way that feels good to them as long as they are able to maintain good health. For me, I enjoy eating a combination of plant foods (as many as my tummy handle) as well as animal products. Mama likes her steak – and loves her kale – so I feel in a good place to enjoy this steak without guilt.