Tips for Grilling Grassfed Steak

When you’re ready to throw that beautiful grass-fed steak on the grill, you’ll want to pay attention and take some care to get the tastiest, most tender results. With its leaner profile, grass-fed beef tends to cook faster, so it’s important to thaw properly, use the right grill temperature, and use a meat thermometer. Don’t skip the last step, which is most important—let it rest after it comes off the grill.

Thawing:  

It’s best to thaw grass-fed beef in the refrigerator for a day, but if you’re in a pinch, you can always place the vacuum-sealed bag in cold water for a few minutes. Never use a microwave to thaw grass-fed beef. Once the steak is thawed, unwrap it and pat it dry, then let it sit at room temperature while the grill heats, for no more than 30 minutes. Don’t cook it cold straight from the refrigerator because it won’t cook evenly. 

Seasoning:

Marinades are great for adding flavor and moisture. Use your favorite or make your own. Place the steak in a glass dish with a cover and then pour the marinade over, making sure the meat is covered completely. Refrigerate for two to six hours, turning several times. Remove from the refrigerator, discard the marinade, and pat dry the steak. Allow it to sit for no more than 30 minutes before brushing with a little olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper, and then put it on the grill.

You can also use a dry rub to add flavor. Again, use your favorite or make your own. Once the steak is thawed, pat it dry and then liberally sprinkle all over with the rub. Allow to sit at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes before putting it on the grill.

If simplicity is your thing, just before putting the steak on the grill, brush it with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cooking:

Always preheat the grill. You can sear the steak before or after it’s cooked to get those nice crispy, caramelized grill marks that add so much flavor. If you want to sear first, heat the grill to high, put the steak on until you see the grill marks on both sides. Turn the heat down to 350° and cook until done. For a reverse sear, just reverse the process. 

Never use a fork to turn the beef. Always use tongs. 

Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness. Watch the temperature carefully—you can go from perfectly cooked to overdone in less than a minute. The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat, so when it reaches a temperature ten degrees LOWER than the desired temperature, it’s done.

For grass-fed steaks, rare (125°) to medium-rare (130°) is perfect. If you go much past medium (140°), your steak is liable to be very chewy.

After you take the steak off the grill, cover it and let it sit in a warm place for five to eight minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. If you like, add a big pat of grassfed butter to add flavor, moisture, and even more benefits from healthy fat.

A Day At The Ranch

The staff at Panorama Organic is always excited to get out and visit our ranchers. In late April, we spent time at Eureka Livestock outside of Bakersfield. We invited some of our customers to come along, and we had a film crew on site with us to document the day.

We started early with a roundup and finished the afternoon with a pasture tailgate. It was a day of learning about the importance of grazing to the restoration of soil and the preservation of wildlife habitat, as well as the parts we all play–ranchers, distributors, chefs, and eaters–in building a more resilient environment.

Our sincere thanks to the Etcheverry family–Jim and Julie, Nick and Kimberley–for their hospitality and for giving us a small taste of ranch life.

Audubon Honors Women’s History Month, Profiles Panorama Organic Rancher Carolyn Carey

Our partners at Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Program have been honoring the women of conservation ranching this month. One of them is Panorama Organic rancher Carolyn Carey, who’s also the founder of the Born and Raised in the U.S.A. certification found on every package of Panorama Organic’s grass-fed beef.

Rancher Name: Carolyn Carey

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Ranch: Carey Ranches

Location: Alturas, California

What is your favorite bird and why?

Owls… we have many on the ranch… as well as great rodent control, they’re fun to watch and “talk” with.

What conservation projects are you working on right now?

We’re proud of our management plans with Audubon and Ducks Unlimited. The Pit River runs through our ranch and irrigates the meadows. We devised a management plan to continue providing wonderful habitat. Swainson’s Hawk and Ibis and the threatened Bank Swallows are here because of the way we’ve managed the ranch for 50 years. I’m also the Vice-Chair of the board of California Rangeland Trusts and their plan is to help ranchers keep ranching to save the land.

Who’s been your most influential woman mentor?

My mother. She went to Cal Berkeley and graduated in 1938 with a degree in Business as one of the few women in those times to have a business degree. She was brilliant. She had incredible common sense in addition to being very educated, which she never flaunted. One of my best memories is when kids came over to our house and we’d sit around the table doing homework and visiting. Someone would have a problem with algebra, French, Spanish, etc. and without saying a word, my mom would get out of her chair and go over to the big bookcase. She’d bring back the right book and set it down in front of them. We could always count on her to get more information about whatever subject we needed. She was such a strong, unassuming, commonsense type of person.

Any advice for women looking to pursue a career in ranching?

Every situation is so completely different but you need to have a bit of a financial background and you can’t get flustered by much of anything. Just be ready for whatever might come up at whatever time of day!

Support Carey Ranches

Carey Ranches is one of the first Audubon Certified bird friendly ranches in California that produces Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Beef™. You’ll find Panorama Organic beef at retail locations throughout the U.S. and online at Crowd Cow for shipping nationwide.

Read about other women working to save the planet here.

Kids’ Sports: Basketball, Volleyball, and Junior Rodeo

While kids are kids no matter where you go, ranch kids experience very different lives from their urban and suburban counterparts. On the ranch, kids go to school, of course, and do chores, just like most kids, but those chores might involve riding a horse, caring for animals, and even taking part in annual round-ups. 

The Hafenfelds in Weldon, CA—parents Eric and Jamie and kids Gus (14), Charlotte (12), and Ward (9)—are an example of a multi-generational ranch family that works together and also plays together. While the younger members of the family are involved in traditional team sports like basketball and volleyball, they’re also devoted to rodeo. “I would say the baseline for my kids’ love of and success in rodeo is the amount of miles that they get on their butts from cowboying on the ranch. They all work like adults and have lots of responsibility,” says Eric Hafenfeld.

The Hafenfeld family: Gus, Charlotte and Ward (front, l-r), Eric and Jamie (back)

A brief history of rodeo

The sport we know as rodeo today got its start almost 150 years ago when ranch hands and cowboys would compete to see who was the fastest and most proficient at accomplishing their tasks—roping, riding, and handling animals. In the late 1800s, Buffalo Bill’s touring Wild West Show was probably the first to showcase cowboys and their skills in front of large audiences filled with city people, and in the 20th century, rodeo became not only a way to compete with other ranches and cowboys (and cowgirls), but a way to earn substantial prize money. Promoters organized contests in cities all over the East Coast and in Europe as the cowboy became a romanticized symbol of America’s Wild West spirit.

While rodeo’s popularity as a spectator sport has ebbed in favor of professional football, baseball, and basketball, for the ranching world, it’s still a way to promote skill-building, teamwork, and camaraderie and honor the hard work of raising livestock. In Kern County where the Hafenfeld family ranches, junior rodeo is a vital part of the fabric of the community. 

The Hafenfelds and some friends started the Kern River Rodeo Association to give local kids from the age of four through their senior year in high school a way to get involved in positive activities that help build their characters. “There’s nothing more beneficial than adversity and the connection with animals for our youth to develop their work ethic and their true beings,” says Hafenfeld. KRRA is a non-profit that organizes rodeo events, brings in professional rodeo riders and ropers to hold workshops and teach skills, and provides prizes and college scholarships.

In addition to ranching skills like horsemanship and animal handling, and life skills like teamwork and problem solving, rodeo offers many intangible benefits. “Overcoming immense adversity,” says Hafenfeld. “Understanding how to win and being able to dig through all of the rigamarole and pressure when you’re backed into a box for a high team run. And going out there and being able to put it down and analyzing what you’re doing wrong, and continuing the spirit and drive to make yourself better. Which is not associated with an electronic device.”

One other thing sets rodeo apart from most kid sports. “The work ethic and big dedication to taking care of animals on a daily basis no matter what the weather’s doing,” says Hafenfeld. “Making sure that their partner in in their event has got everything they need to be successful. They need a blanket on a cold night, and they need a clean bucket of water, and plenty of feed. You have to be able to get home from basketball practice or from a game at nine o’clock and go out there and take care of your animals.”

There’s no carb loading in rodeo.

Good nutrition is important for everyone, but for rodeo kids, the Hafenfelds believe that a protein-dense diet is optimum, especially when it comes from the organic, grass-fed cattle they raise. Rodeo is an all-day event, and carbs just don’t offer enough sustained energy through the day. “They need energy so they’re not tired all day,” says Jamie Hasenfeld. “No carbs in the morning. We don’t go to a junior rodeo on a cinnamon roll. We go on a bacon and egg breakfast.”

The Hafenfeld family has been ranching on the South Fork of the Kern River about 65 miles northeast of Bakersfield since 1867. They’re committed to protecting wildlife, water conservation, and preserving open space on their owned and leased land. Their cattle summer in the mountains at elevations up to 9,200 feet and then winter in the river valley. They’re part of the Panorama Organic family of organic, grass-fed ranchers. 

And will the youngest generation continue the tradition? “Well, that’s gonna be their decision,” says Eric Hafenfeld. “If they choose to do that then they will, and nobody’s gonna be forced to do it. But it’s a labor of love and a love of labor.”

Gus, Charlotte, and Ward Hafenfeld

Lentil Stew with Sausage and Kale

This hearty, healthy stew checks all the boxes – lentils, kale, plenty of other good-for-you veggies, and grass-fed, organic sausage. The addition of smoked paprika complements the smokiness of the sausage. It’s a delicious way to finish up a chilly winter and welcome spring.

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, leaves separated from stems and both chopped
  • 1 package Panorama Organic Grass-fed Smoked Sausage, sliced into ½-inch rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 pound dried green lentils
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, celery, carrots and chopped kale stems. Saute until the onions are translucent and everything is starting to soften. Add the sausage and saute another 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the garlic. Cook for another minute.

Stir in the chicken stock, lentils, salt, and smoked paprika. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. If the stew is too thick, add water. Stir in the chopped kale leaves and simmer another 5 minutes until the lentils are soft. Adjust seasonings, if needed.

Serve with flatbread.

Note: This stew keeps well and is even better the next day. Freeze for up to 3 months if you have any left.