Steak Challenge: What is the difference between grass-fed beef and prime beef?
The steak challenge happened organically when I realized I had two different types of beef defrosting in the refrigerator. One steak is a New York Strip steak I cut from a prime striploin from Costco. The other was a thick, grass-fed beef ribeye which had a rectangular shape similar to a New York Strip. Neglecting reading both steaks labels closely would come back to haunt me when it was taste test time.
How do you cook a steak in a steak challenge?
I write about using the reverse sear method in my book Exclusively Kamado and frequently use this method when grilling steaks. I smoked the steaks on my Traeger Timberlne 850 until they each hit an internal temperature of about 112F. This allowed the steaks to pick up smoky flavor while the internal temperature slowly increases. Then when they get close to the desired temperature, you finish cooking them with a hard sear which provides a delicious and flavourful crust.
The searing part of the cook was something I was especially looking forward to because I just unboxed a new Otto Wilde outdoor broiler capable of reaching temperatures of 1500F. Seeing the Otto Wilde grill was new, I was excited to get it dialed in.
Preheating the Otto Wilde gill for about ten minutes is an assurance that it's well heat soaked, but it probably would have been good to cook under in half that time. The two steaks went onto the broiler and cooked them for about three minutes per side or until they reached an internal temperature of about 126F. They rested for close to ten minutes before slicing.
Slicing both steaks into small strips, the grass-fed beef ended up on one side of the plate and the prime beef on the other. Both were equally delicious but for different reasons. The prime beef was predictably tasty. More firm than the other piece, but with intense layers of flavor. The grass-fed beef had a pleasant funkiness to it. Not rich of a flavor enough to call gamey, but intense in a differently appealing way than the prime beef. There was one distinct difference between the grass-fed beef and the prime steak in the steak challenge. This dawned on me as problematic. The grass-fed beef was noticeably more juicy than the prime beef.
I should have realized that comparing a prime New York strip steak to a grass-fed ribeye steak was actually not a fair comparison. Ribeyes have a notoriously different flavor than a New York strip and the mouthfeels were quite typical here too. I cannot help but attribute this to the grass-fed ribeye being juicier than the prime steak.
I will definitely do the comparison again. But next time, I'll pay close attention to using the same cut of meat.