Tag Archives: finishing cattle

TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS

1 Jan

How do you like your beef?  Depends on how the animal was “finished”.

Meaning, what?

OK, say you go to the gym six days a week, two hours a day.   You’re going to get strong, hard and solid.  Now say you just sit in a recliner all day and eat french fries. Not so solid, right?

You get my drift … the more exercise you get, the tougher you are, and the less exercise you get, the softer you are. Same with an animal.

I’m a firm believer that beef needs to be finished for about 90 days, and when I say “finished” I mean that its exercise should be very limited, and that it should be fed something that puts a layer of fat on.

We all love fat – it’s hard-wired into human brains. (Yay, BACON!) But besides the fact that we love it, fat also plays an important role in developing overall flavor in the carcass. That’s because that layer of fat protects the meat as it ages, preventing it from drying out or spoiling.  I’ve noticed that when I’m working with meat that’s been aged with very little fat on it, I end up with a lot of waste, not much flavor, and not a lot of tenderness.

So how should an animal be finished?   These days, there’s a lot of discussion about grass-fed beef.  Thing is that here in Vermont after August our grass tends to lose some of its sugar content, so it’s difficult to fatten the animal on it.

I do think that you can grass-finish, but I think it should be grass that has been cut and turned into silage and stored while it still has its sugar content, because it’s the sugar that makes the fat.   And limiting the animal’s exercise is also very important. So there’s a lot of variables.

This is strictly my opinion:  for my taste, I don’t mind grass-fed beef, but I want mine finished on grain or corn, with limited exercise for at least 90 days so that the animal is tender.

You may have noticed that I just mentioned corn (you were paying attention, weren’t you?).  So what about corn-fed beef?   Well, my concern is genetically modified corn, which I avoid.  One of the farmers I buy beef from here finishes on corn grain. But it’s non-GMO corn which he grinds himself, and he has a pretty good result. In fact, it’s the beef I use in my DVDs, and it’s delicious.

And oh, by the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!