Cooking Grass-Fed Beef
So we’re starting a new Christmas tradition. From now on, it’s Christmas Osso Buco! Cooking grass-fed beef often makes people quite nervous, but once you go grass-fed, you may find it hard to go back! Yes, it does cost a bit more – but this was Christmas after all AND it is always less expensive to make dinner at home. I’m really getting into braising and this could not be a better main ingredient.
The grass-fed beef shanks you see above came from White Stone Farm in Chateaugay NY. They are from two farmers named Kim and they specialize in Scotch Highland Cattle – a breed known for grazing efficiency. My wife, who is also named Kim, picked these up at our Winter Farmers Market in Saranac Lake right before I flew home. The recipe I used was from the crock and vest wearing signore, Mario Batali.
I was extra careful with these cuts because if I dried them out or overcooked them, I would have ruined our Christmas dinner and that would not have been good. So after getting a good browning on both sides, I took them out to rest on a plate and got the ragout started.
The rest was to slip the osso buco into the ragout bath, making sure they are semi-submerged under liquid. I then placed it in the oven covered for about 2 hours at 350 degrees checking on it at 45 minute intervals to see if the meat was falling off the bone. So while that was in the oven, it was time to try my first Risotto!
I’ve heard a few horror stories and seen the random chef reality show where even the professional’s turn out either an undercooked hard rice or extra mushy, over done risotto. So I really didn’t know what to expect. But I followed the recipe and really took my sweet time. As luck would have it, it turned out great. Seems the trick is patience: 1.) add a little liquid, then 2.) let the rice absorb it all by stirring. Repeat 1 & 2 until the desired texture is reached.
And here is our plated Christmas dinner on my mother in-laws holiday dinnerware. The meat was tender, rich and almost buttery in flavor. The saffron risotto was creamy and the gremolata (garlic, parsley, lemon zest) added a fresh little zing on all that savoriness.
One of the highlights for me is the bone marrow. Not many people are into eating the marrow – but I found the flavor amazing and it was not too fatty. Shanks (lamb, beef) have plenty of marrow and this is a staple in the diet of many native cultures. This being my 1st grass-fed beef shank, I was not going to miss any opportunites!
I’m no chef, but I have a lot of fun cooking
When some very special ingredients are involved, like this grass-fed osso buco from a local farm, it brings the enjoyment to another level for me. Cooking then becomes an event where everyone is involved and engaged in the fun. This is what slow food is all about and I’m so glad our family can experience and appreciate this in the Adirondacks.