Friday, January 21, 2011

Tale of Two Grass Fed Ranches

My last trip to the Central Phoenix Farmer's Market the weekend after New Years, I hoped to snatch up a cornucopia of locally grown foods harvested just prior to the recent frost.  While I did find some local celery, everything else was stuff I already had at home or don't particularly like, so I sauntered over to the JH Grass Fed Beef booth, run by John B Holbrook (link here).  Mr Holbrook is a nice enough rancher.  A friendly guy, he sells locally humanely raised lamb and beef from a large cooler on the back of his truck at the market.  I've previously raved about Double Check Ranch's delicious pasture raised beef (here and here), but I always like to have "have a plan" and single sourcing can lead one into complacency with that single supplier or despair if that supplier goes out of business or has problems... so I thought I'd give Mr Holbrook a try. 

I looked over his price list, and bought 2 rib eyes, thinking it'd be about $20.  After plunking them on the scale, and punching in his calculator, he said "that'll be $33.50".  Gulp.  Strike 1. $33.50, man, these better be some awesome steaks.  Later that week, I prepared the steaks in a very similar manner to how I had prepared my Double Check steaks.  I was a little disappointed to find out that a dollar or more of that $33.50 included paying for inedible bone.  The bone had been band sawed, so there wasn't even any marrow to enjoy, sadly... but it was not refreshing to see these big ole bones left on the cuts.  Strike 2.

I tried to keep a happy face on, and thought about how much better local, humanely raised food is compared to trucked in franken food from the industrial food complex... and Holbrook's webpage and his flyer handouts have pictures of him and his grand children on horseback... so it's good that I give him a break and try his food.  "It'll be awesome".

Well, I grilled it up, and it was "OK".  It wasn't bad, but I was not WOW'ed as I have been consistently with Double Check.

The heirloom fire roasted tomatoes, organic  portabello mushrooms, organic yellow and red peppers, and organic scallions turned out wonderfully.  Really tasty, really juicy, complimenting an OK steak.  Made 2, ate one, stored the 2nd one in the fridge for dinner the next night - with a final futile hope that the flavors would all combine and enhance over-night.  No such luck, the 2nd night was no better than the first night, maybe even slightly drier.  Sigh.  Strike 3.

For comparison sake, I grilled up more Double Check later in the week.  I'd gotten the variety pack from double check of 10 lbs where they offer a substantial discount.  I chose a chuck roast, and since I did not have enough time to slow roast it, I grilled it.  yes, I know, you're not supposed to grill a roast... but I was pressed for time.

Notice how there's a gorgeous, thin layer of fat around the periphery of the cut.  Double Check's butchers do a superb job.  Each piece of meat is like a little work of art!

Upon upper shelf indirect grilling, the roast broke into two pieces, and delicious cut dripped it's juices down into the waiting mushrooms, peppers, and scallions below.  The final result was wonderful - and to my pallet, 'as good as or better' than the Holbrook Rib steak mentioned above.  It was a lil bit tough to slice with a sharp knife, but as a roast, it was never intended to be grilled.  It was very juicy, tasty,  and a delicous meal.
Encouraged by this renewed, healthy, protein rich decadence experiment, I defrosted a pack of sirloin steak from Double Check, moving the pack from the freezer to the fridge, and leaving it there for 2 days to thaw (and to conserve energy as the steak endothermically cools the surrounding fridge during peak energy periods) as I always do.
 Same preparation - preheat the grill to 400F, indirect grilling on the upper rack (to prevent flared up flame impingement and carburization). 2 minutes over flame, each side, then 3 minutes over the grilled veggies, each side, and viola, a perfectly rare-to-medium-rare grilled steak!

No additional butter or BBQ sauce needed.  No salt or pepper required.  Just delicious, local, low carb, humanely raised, organically fed, happy cows providing protein to a happy health conscious consumer.

This was too much for me to eat in one dinner, so I cut the succulent sirloin in half, and stored the 2nd half for the next night.  The double feature was fantastic.  I have 1/2 a dozen cuts left; Flat Iron, New York, Rib Eyes, and a pack of Hot Dogs - yes, organic, grass fed, local hot dogs!  Stay tuned for more to come.

1 comment:

  1. i just ate, and this made me hungry again. yum!


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