Dave the Wine Merchant and Chef Adam Moore discuss the environmental and nutritional benefits of Grass-fed beef, and how the meat’s lower fat content impacts related wine pairings.
Pulling on a lifetime of food and wine pairing experience didn’t prepare me for matching wine with lower fat grass-fed beef. And a lifetime of cooking beef didn’t really prepare me for cooking grass-fed beef properly either! I dried it out regularly, and found the results bland and tough. But after this discussion with Chef Adam Moore, I now know the tips and tricks for preparing it perfectly! And read to the end to see how my wine-with-beef recommendations change when drinking wine with grass-fed beef!
Australian Beef and Lamb aims to be completely carbon-neutral by year 2030, and their water usage, land preservation, and greenhouse gas emissions prevention have allowed it to become one of the most environmentally friendly ways of raising cattle. You can find Australian grass-fed beef in grocery stores coast to coast, including Costco, Tops, Wakefern and Savemart. Look for “product of Australia ” on pack or ask your butcher for Australian.
Here is the transcript from my conversation with Chef Adam, followed by my wine pairing suggestions and links to three of his favorite recipes for low-fat, grass-fed beef!
DAVE: Hi Chef, thanks for your time today. Can you start by explaining to my readers why grass-fed beef is better for us and the environment?
ADAM: Grass-fed beef is a naturally lean source of high-quality protein, with 13 essential nutrients required for good health, including Iron, Zinc, Omega-3 and B vitamins. It has 4 times more iron than chicken. It’s high in protein and low in calories – for example, to get 25 grams of protein (about half your daily requirement) you’d have to consume 3 cups of quinoa (with 665 calories!), or just 4 oz of grass-fed beef tenderloin, which is only 145 calories.
And when grass-fed beef is raised naturally and sustainably like it is on Australia’s abundant open pasturelands, you can feel good about choosing a high-quality protein that’s better for you and better for the environment.
DAVE: Grass-fed beef as a category sounds like a good thing for all of us. How is grass-fed beef from Australia any different than any other grass-fed beef? Can’t we buy from a domestic source and eliminate the emissions from the trans-pacific crossing?
ADAM: For some, it’s the choice of grass-fed beef from livestock that freely graze on open, natural grasslands and pastures for their whole life. For others, the nutritional benefits of lean grass-fed beef as a good source of protein and iron; and lower fat content is a plus.
For many more, it’s the ‘as nature intended’ flavor of a clean, green product. Care for our animals and the environment are at the core of what we do. Our ranchers pride themselves on being stewards of the land, with sustainability as a priority. As a country, we set a high bar for environmental standards, and our grass-fed beef speaks volumes about the results. In fact, one of our latest goals is to be carbon neutral by 2030. And we are well on our way to reaching it. In the last 14 years, we’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 56%.
DAVE: We have a few cattle ranches in California too. When I buy your Australian beef, does it offset the ecological benefits of grass-feeding when it is transported across the Pacific? I mean, I know the crossing has much lower impact than a trans-continental truck ride, but when we’re looking for every sustainable advantage possible…
ADAM: Not all Dave. Actually, shipping is the most environmentally friendly form of transport. Less than 5% of greenhouse gas emissions, water, and energy come from transport.
DAVE: Really?! I knew it was low but not THAT low! Do you have a source for that?
ADAM: Of course! It’s from recent research conducted by the The Journal of Cleaner Production and The Journal of Agricultural Systems.
DAVE: OK Chef, let’s get to the meat of the matter (sorry) – your cooking tips!
In my experience, grass-fed beef tends to be less flavorful and easier to dry out than grain-fed or even grain-finished beef. What tips can you share with our readers to make sure they have a great meal and choose grass-fed beef on a regular basis?
ADAM: Well Dave, funny you should mention that. You know that journey to America we were just talking about? It actually improves our already tasty grass-fed beef! The fresh meats are immediately vacuum-packed after processing, and while on the water our temperature-controlled meat begins the 14-day wet-aging process which improves tenderness and flavor quality relative to domestic versions.
But I also have a few tips when cooking grass-fed beef vs. grain-fed that can certainly help:
- First, about an hour before cooking, take the meat out of your refrigerator and allow it come up to room temperature before cooking. This helps to keep it from drying out.
- Because grass-fed beef is lower in fat, it cooks up to 30% faster than grained beef. So my #1 tip is don’t be afraid to pull the meat off the heat well before your instincts tell you it’s ready!
- When grilling, handle lightly, flipping only once.
- And finally, let the meat rest for 5 – 10 minutes before cutting to keep it nice and juicy. If unsure of the proper cooking time, take advantage of our handy ‘steak mate’ tool at www.trueaussiebeefandlamb.com. Just plug in the details and we’ll do the rest.
DAVE: Thanks Adam, those are some helpful tips! As a wine merchant, I can’t let you off the hook without asking about your favorite wine pairing for this lower-fat beef.
ADAM: Now Dave, you’re the wine expert, I just serve up the delicious food! What wines do you suggest? We’d love to pass along your recommendations to our followers.
DAVE: (Laughing) I’ll be glad to. In general, I like to make general recommendations rather than specific wines. That way, people can find delicious pairings even though specific wines may not be available.
REDS: Though beef and Cabernet Sauvignon are a classic pairing, it’s only true because the tannins in Cabernet-based reds is a nice foil to the fat in grain-fed or grain-finished finished beef. Because grass-fed beef is 30% lower in fat, I’d recommend Cabernet only to its biggest fans. Most others will find pleasure in lighter reds such as Pinot Noir, the Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti and Tuscany, or the Nebbiolo-based wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. But any lighter-bodied red will pair nicely. Shop my current portfolio of red wines here, or while we’re branching out from the old standards…
ROSES: My regular club members and readers may be tired of my mantra that dry Rose wines are among the most food-friendly on the planet! Especially when paired with lean grass-fed beef served with a chimichurri or salsa or other bit of heat, a dry Rose will outshine most other pairings. Plus, a dry Rose is lower in alcohol and calories – an appealing benefit for our health-conscious times. Shop my current portfolio of dry Roses here.
WHITE WINES: Pairing beef with any white wine is not my favorite idea. Though wine generally improves any savory dish, my white wine and beef recommendations are only for those wine fans who only drink white wine! So my advice here is to go big and bold – a CA Chardonnay, for example, or a wine from the Rhone Valley featuring Viognier, Roussanne or Marsanne. Shop my current portfolio of white wines here.
And of course, as always, much depends on the method of cooking and side dishes! Click here for my wine pairings to go with three of Chef Adam’s dishes featuring Australian Grass-Fed Beef:
Chef Adam’s “Better Burger” featuring Aussie Grass-fed Beef
Aussie Strip Steak Sandwich
Caesar Salad with Warm Australian Beef