You are what you eat eats – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t often luxuriate in a rare, juicy piece of beef. If I am going to eat something that was alive and kicking at one point, my preference usually leans toward something avian or piscine. Occasionally something porcine will grace my plate but that is the extent of the red meaty goodness I’ll usually eat. Why? I was ruined early on when I read Diet for a Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe’. I was quite the little environmentalist and when I discovered the environmental destruction tied to cattle, I stopped centering my diet around beef. Back in those old days, beef was blamed for many health scares due to the saturated fat content it contains. Many people I know cut down on their consumption of beef and I did too.
If you do your homework, you find out that a lot of the bad rap that beef gets is due to how it is raised for market. Cows evolved a double stomach in order to turn the luscious green grass that we can’t digest into wholesome available nutrients. Cows properly raised on pasture are usually not too destructive to the environment. Meat and dairy from those same cows is loaded with omega three fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids (which are good for preventing cancer). You see, the problem is that conventionally raised cows, stuck in a feedlot, are fed corn and sometimes other things. Since their double stomach is made for processing grass, grains make them ill. We have to load them with medications to make them well. The feedlots also contribute to environmental and health issues as well. The rise in the number of toxic E-coli cases we are experiencing lately are a result of our animal husbandry practices.
From a health and an environmental standpoint the meat, eggs and dairy of pastured animals are far better than their conventionally grown counterparts. “But pasture raised animal products are so pricey!” you say. Well, we should all be eating lower on the food chain for our health and our planet, but… that’s another rant for another day.
So… if you are still with me on this, and after looking at my links you still wanna have some beef: you must be thinking, “but Mimi. Grass fed beef has so much less fat, it can’t be tasty at all”. As you have gathered, I am not a steak expert, but I know that I love the intense meaty flavor of grass fed beef. Slate magazine did a taste test and here is how grass fed beef fared. For me, I have always loved how any beef tastes with this wonderful chili rub I discovered over a decade ago in Gourmet magazine. The rub both tenderizes and flavors the meat. Bon Appetit!
Garlic and chili rub for barbequed beef
Adapted from Gourmet, August 1995
2 – 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
3 ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Add chopped garlic and salt to a mortar and use a pestle to grind the garlic and salt into a paste. Don’t worry if there are still some garlic chunks but you want it ground enough to make a wet paste. If your mortar is large enough, add chili powder, cumin, sugar and Worcestershire sauce, if not transfer garlic to a bowl and mix in the preceding ingredients.
This recipe makes enough rub for two to three pounds of steak or a roast such as tri tip. Cover the meat in the rub and allow it to marinate for at least 4 hours and up to two days. Cook the meat on a barbeque to the desired doneness.