The Real Deal on ‘Grass Fed’ Beef; a Visit to Proffitt Family Cattle Company

 

 

‘Grass Fed Beef’; it’s a familiar term to those who like to seek out great ingredients to cook with and eludes to a preferred type of beef.

Take a stroll through the grocery store, the packages labelled ‘grass fed’ usually carry a heftier price tag than the conventional beef, so one would naturally assume a superior taste?

Sadly, I find I am often disappointed by grass fed beef, finding it either too lean and tough, or just simply tasteless.

A different breed

And then I heard the rumblings in my culinary circles of a North Carolina farm raising truly grass-fed beef that tastes amazing!  On a beautiful cold, crisp sunny day I took a trip out to Proffitt Family Cattle Company  in King’s Mountain, NC to see what the fuss is all about.

Shelley Proffitt, cattle rancher and seriously impressive lady enlightened me to the real facts surrounding ‘grass fed’ beef. One would assume the term ‘grass fed’ applies to cattle raised exclusively munching on green pastures, but in most cases that’s far from the truth.

In 2016 the US Department of Agriculture  announced it was dropping the official term ‘grass fed’, claiming they are unable to monitor if the ‘grass fed’ beef claims are in fact true, leaving the label open to misinterpretation.

Raising cattle exclusively on grass and hay can present a challenge simply get enough nutrition for the animal, it entails year round maintenance of pastures and having plenty of hay available for the winter months. To many ranchers, given the work entailed, the herd are most often grain finished for the last month or two.

The slack in label claims  means that operations can raise their cattle on grass for a portion of the time, fatten them up with grain, and still claim the ‘grass fed’ label!

So why does it matter?

Truly grass-fed beef has a very different nutrition profile over grain fed or finished beef. Grass feeding improves the quality of beef, it typically contains two to four times more anti- inflammatory omega 3  fats, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and CLA (a beneficial fatty acid named conjugated linoleic acid) as compared to conventionally raised beef.

By comparison, beef that is grain fed, or even only grain finished for the last thirty days, has a much higher ratio of pro inflammatory omega-6 fats.  Organic beef that is grain fed may be free of antibiotics and hormones, however the beneficial fatty acid profile cannot match that of exclusively grass-fed beef.

A worst-case scenario is conventional feed lot raised beef which can be fed a diet of grains, soy, industrial food by produce and even candy, and administered antibiotics and growth hormones on top of that; inflammatory food to say the least, and not a food I recommend.

On this gorgeous day, we took a ride out to the pastures on Proffitt Farm  to see the herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle. Healthy looking cattle looked lazily over at us, munching on a surprisingly green pasture, given this was mid-January.

Shelley points out the Proffitt beef is not lean as most grass fed beef is, rather the beef is richly marbled, and flavorful! This is achieved by constantly rotating the herd to different pastures, allowing the grass to recover faster and offering the herd a delectable buffet of fresh grasses. Only in the last winter months when the grass is dormant do they need to supplement with hay, which was harvested in the summer months.

A pink salt and ground kelp blend sparkles in the feeding trough, as a nutritional therapist I can appreciate the importance of a healthy mineral profile in the diet, the ultimate cow gourmet mineral supplement!

Growing up on a farm in South Africa, I have a special affinity for local farmers making the effort to grow food the right way, as close to nature as possible, and free of unnecessary chemical fly sprays, de-wromers or feeds.

Proffitt Family Farm is indeed a unicorn, a certified organic and grass-fed operation, which is no easy feat!

I love the Shelly’s line, they are committed to be “legitimate and true to what being organic is” You can listen to her talk about the hoops they jump through to maintain organic certification here.

I left that day with a new appreciation of what it takes to be an organic and 100% grass fed cattle ranch, and several packs of the Proffitt Farm beef, to prepare for my live cooking segment on the WCNC Charlotte Today Show.

Oh the taste!!

Now I have worked with a lot of grass-fed beef in my culinary career, and I have to say the Proffitt Farm grass fed beef lived up to all the hype. Flavorful, tender, just delicious!

Proffitt Farms  beef is available on Saturdays from the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market  and from the farm  visit the website for farm store days.

 

You can find details on the recipe I prepared Grass Fed Beef Pot Pie Provencal with Gluten Free Topping  and the video link on the blog.

Enjoy!

 

Grass Fed Beef Pot Pie Provencal with Gluten Free Topping

Gloomy long winter days make me really homesick for sunny South Africa!

I had a hankering for a dish Mom would prepare for us when we where kids, a deep dish pot pie, with a wonderful cake-y topping, yum! Of course I converted the topping to a gluten free version, and it came out pretty good! A little more biscuit like, with a delectable soft inside.

Now let’s talk about the beef (cue angels singing), for this recipe I had the pleasure of using organic grass fed beef from Proffitt Family Cattle Company in King’s Mountain, NC. I’d heard the rumblings about this amazing, rich, flavorful beef, and oh boy! It did not disappoint!

Grass fed beef is typically pretty lean, not so with the beef from Proffitt Farm ; you can read all about the farming methods to achieve this in my blog post here.

My take on a classic French ‘daube’ or stew has a Provencal twist, with classic Herbes de Provence and sundried tomato pesto, a nod to my time spent at culinary school in Lyon, France!

I prepared this recipe live on the NBC Charlotte Today Show , always fun, if not a little nerve wracking to be cooking live !

I hope you enjoy this great recipe,

Chef Carol

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Grass Fed Beef Pot Pie Provencal with Gluten Free Topping

Gloomy long winter days call for hearty, warming food. My take on a classic French ‘daube’ or stew is a delicious, healthy family friendly dish, topped with a soft, gluten free crust.

  • Author: Carol Green

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Grass Fed Beef Chuck Roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, finely diced
  • ½ Fennel Bulb, finely diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 medium Carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 4 large Parsnips, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 2 cups Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Sundried Tomato Tapenade
  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • 4 cups Beef Stock
  • 2 tablespoons Gluten Free Flour blend
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs’ de Provence
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz Spinach, washed, trimmed and rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut.

Instructions

Cooking Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Pat beef dry with paper towels, (it will not brown well if it is damp), season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, add a little oil, add the meat in a single layer without crowding the pan, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides.
  • Remove from the pan and work in batches browning the rest of the meat.
  • Add a little more ghee and sauté the rest of the onion, fennel and garlic until softened and caramelized.
  • Add the carrots and parsnips, add the meat back to the pan.
  • Add the red wine, allow heat through
  • In a large jug or bowl, whisk the flour into the broth, and add to the pan.
  • Add the tomato paste, sundried tomatoes and herbs de Provence. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
  • Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 2 to 3 hours, until meat is fork tender.
  • Stir in the basil chiffonade and spinach, taste for seasoning.
  • Ladle the stew in individual oven proof casserole dishes, or one large dish.
  • Place back in the oven for 10 minutes to heat the dishes.
  • Top with Soft Gluten Free Pot Pie Topping, bake at 400F for 25 to 35 minutes.

Notes

  •  I love the result from slow cooking food in a dutch oven, however this dish can also be prepared in a slow cooker or adapted for the Instapot, adapt accordingly.
  • Make sure the beef is not icy cold when you cook with it, and pat the beef dry well, this will ensure it browns ad does not poach.
  • This recipe can be prepared in individual servings or one big family style dish, adjust cooking time accordingly.
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Soft Gluten Free Pot Pie Topping

Living gluten free does not mean deprivation from delicious pie toppings! This easy recipe yields a soft biscuit-y topping that can be adapted for many recipes.

 

  • Author: Carol Green

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon Dry Mustard Powder
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) Butter, cold
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Milk

Instructions

  • Whisk together the dry ingredients and cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Whisk together the egg and milk, and blend with the flour mixture, until a soft dough is formed.
  • Drop spoonful’s on to the hot stew and bake at 400 F for 30 minutes or until done, depending on size of the dish.

Notes

  • This recipe can be prepared as individual servings or one big family style dish, adjust cooking time accordingly.
  • I used King Arthur Gluten Free Flour Blend, different brands may have more, or less moisture, adjust until a soft, biscuit spoonable dough is achieved.