Lone Star Farm Beef

Lone Star Farm Blog – A Free Range Beef Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Free-range, antibiotic & hormone-free, grass fed beef

Dry Aged Beef: Taste the Difference!

One bite of Lone Star Farm Beef tells you that this farm and their butcher are doing so many things right.

Years ago, Ernie and Elmina Beiler decided that when they were going to raise free-range beef, they weren’t going to take any shortcuts. They’ve decided to keep a small herd–fewer than 100 cows–so they can keep close tabs on all aspects of the farm and herd. They’ve chosen to raise the cattle without antibiotics or hormones, and to feed them a very balanced diet.

Lone Star Cows 3

The Beilers give their herd as much grazing time as possible, and when they need to supplement, while commercial beef operations primarily feed their animals corn kernels, the Beilers’ herd eats the whole cornstalk–nutritious corn silage grown on the farm and served along with hay and grain.  They keep the calves with their mothers and let them roam. They implemented a conservation plan to keep their farm environmentally healthy.  And they have their butcher dry age all of the beef for 14-21 days.

Every choice a beef farmer makes impacts the taste of the beef, but dry aging is definitely a crucial final step.

A very small percentage of beef in the U.S. is dry aged. It’s hard to find any supermarket beef that uses this method, and none but the very best restaurants and steakhouses use dry aged beef.

That’s because it takes longer than wet aging and some of the meat’s volume is lost. In dry aging, the meat loses water-weight and its dry exterior must be completely trimmed.  It also means that the beef stays at the butcher’s longer, taking up cold storage space, so butchers often charge extra for dry aging.  Dry-aging is one more sign that Lone Star Farm is not taking any short cuts and is committed to the best practices.

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What is Dry Aging?

Beef is usually aged in one of two ways. When it is wet aged, as is the case for nearly all supermarket and most restaurant beef, the butcher seals the cuts in plastic and keeps these small portions in a fridge. When it is “dry aged,” as is the case for top-notch steakhouse beef, the meat hangs from a hook in cold storage. In both aging processes, the enzymes that are naturally present in the meat break down muscle tissue, improving the taste and texture.  The difference–and it’s a crucial one–is that because dry aged beef is exposed to the air, dehydration further concentrates the meat’s flavor.

“Dry aging does for red meat what cave aging does for cheese or cellaring for Bordeaux,” writes Larry Olmsted in Forbes. It “improves the taste greatly with time.”

“Dry aging,” Olmsted continues, “is so important that it supplants USDA grades: dry aged choice beef tastes much better than the highest grade, prime, un-aged.”

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This aging process not only results in better flavor, it also harkens back to traditional, more natural, practices. Thirty-five years ago, all beef that wasn’t cured or canned had been dry aged, according to the article “Dry vs. Wet: A Butcher’s Guide to Aging Meat,” in The Atlantic. “What happened?” the article asks. “Why is properly hung beef such an oddity today if it was the industry standard such a short time ago?” The article says that the meatpacking industry learned it could save time and money by placing meat in vacuum-sealed plastic bags.

But the Beiler family knows that “faster” doesn’t mean “better,” and they let themselves be guided by what is better, healthier and most natural.

The Next Step: Cooking Recommendations for Steaks and Roasts

Once you have the dry aged steaks, roasts or other beef, cooking methods make a huge difference too. Be sure to check out our Steak & Roast Cooking Recommendations to make sure your beef achieves the perfection it’s destined for!

Beef Short Rib Tacos with Avocado Pico de Gallo Salsa

Cooking beef short ribs is new to me.  In the past, I’d mostly cooked ground beef, pot roast, stew meat and, on special occasions, sirloin steak.  These are all safe, simple options that can build a wide range of flavorful dinners.  But sometimes a cook needs a little adventure, and trying out different cuts of meat increases the recipe repertoire.

Last summer, I started cooking beef short ribs, a tender cut of bone-in meat.   I used one of those recipes that can make any home cook feel like a domestic magician.  And so of course that made me want to cook short ribs again!

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It was my sister’s recipe: Provencal Short Ribs.  Cooked at a low temperature along with a flavorful blend of fragrant herbs, luscious wine and vegetables, this dish has earned a place among the “company recipes” that are so helpful to have on hand.

Then, recently, I made beef short ribs with chocolate and pancetta.  It was around Easter, and I was thinking chocolate.  This recipe answered the craving with a rich, slightly bitter, unmistakably cocoa flavor, the dish was so elegant!

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Both of those dishes have all the trimmings of fancy feast-day meals.  But what about the days when you want to cook with beef short ribs, but you’re in the mood for a more familiar meal?  Something the kids will devour?  Something like say, tacos?

Good news!  Beef short ribs are amazing in tacos.  By following a few basic steps, you can make all kinds of beef short rib tacos:

1) If the ribs look a little too big to work with comfortably, you can separate them by cutting between the bones.

2) Trim any fat (it’s okay to leave just a little, though) and season the meat with salt, pepper and herbs or spices.  I used oregano.

3) Sear the meat at a high temperature.  I used the broiler this time, but you can also sear the meat in a heavy pan on the stovetop.

4) Transfer the meat to your crockpot and add a flavorful sauce that will give the meat plenty of liquid to cook in.  Cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.

5) Place the meat on a cutting board and let it cool until it’s a comfortable temperature to work with, then remove the bones and pull the meat apart using two forks.

One other advantage of cooking bone-in meat: you can save those bones and use them as the base for a hearty broth.

Now that you have the basics, here’s the taco recipe.

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Beef Short Rib Tacos
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
 
Be sure to leave a window open while you make the hot sauce so the peppers' spice will not overwhelm you!
Ingredients
  • HOT SAUCE:
  • 10 serrano chiles, stemmed and cut into ⅛-inch discs
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup thinly sliced onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • RIBS:
  • 3 lbs. short ribs, trimmed of fat
  • salt, pepper and oregano to taste
  • ¾ cup water
Instructions
  1. HOT SAUCE:
  2. Saute peppers, garlic, onions, salt, oil and sugar over high heat for 3 minutes. Add water and simmer until vegetables are soft and most of the liquid evaporates (20-25 minutes).
  3. Turn off the heat and let this mixture cool to room temperature, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add vinegar and continue to puree until incorporated.
  4. Cool the sauce in the fridge.
  5. RIBS:
  6. Preheat your oven to broil. Cut the ribs into smaller sections if desired, and season all over with salt, pepper and oregano.
  7. Place a pan on the bottom rack of your oven to catch drips, and cook the ribs on the rack just above the pan. Cook ribs for 8 minutes, and then flip and cook another 8 minutes.
  8. Transfer ribs to crockpot, top with ⅔ cup hot sauce and ¾ cup water and cook 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.
  9. Place ribs on a cutting board and let them cool enough to work with. Remove the bones (save them for a hearty stew!) and pull the rib meat apart with forks.
  10. If you want to spice up the meat, stir in as much of the remaining hot sauce as desired.
  11. Serve with warm corn tortillas and Pico de Gallo Salsa.

For the salsa that topped the tacos, I turned to Janell Weaver Gutierrez’s authentic Pico de Gallo Salsa.  Janell grew up at Weaver’s Orchard, one of the locations where you can purchase our beef, and she now lives in Puebla, Mexico with her husband and son. Since she grew up around fresh-picked ingredients and is now learning new recipes from her Mexican mother-in-law, I see good reason  to rely on her salsa-making advice!  Janell suggests mixing mangoes, peaches or avocados into this basic salsa.  Avocados were particularly delicious along with the tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef in these tacos.

They Sure Are Sloppy, But Who’s Joe?

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There are some meals that make you wonder how they got their name.  London Broil, for instance.  If you ordered it in London, you’d probably get a chuckle or a confused stare because no one in London actually eats London Broil.

But then there’s the sloppy Joe.  If ever a meal was aptly named, this one is.  The only question is, “Who is Joe?”  Theories differ, some claiming that the sandwich came from a restaurant in Havana, Cuba called Sloppy Joe’s, others saying it was actually a restaurant in Key West that gave it its name.  A third contingent argues that sloppy Joes earned their name because they were made by an Iowan chef named Joe.

Whatever the origins, the name couldn’t be more perfect.  Though eating them neatly is impossible–and grates against the spirit of the meal anyhow–sloppy Joes make great meals to feed a crowd.  Their sweet, salty flavor satisfies hungry guests.  Sloppy Joe recipes satisfy busy cooks, too, because the recipes come together easily and can be made ahead and warmed in a crock pot.

If you’re feeding a crowd, you can even buy Lone Star Farm’s heat & serve sloppy Joe mix, available by the quart.  It’s great on sandwiches, and the Beiler family loves it on top of fresh baked potatoes topped with sour cream and cheese.

If you’re planning to make sloppy Joes from scratch and want to add some “fancy” to the traditional sloppy Joe recipe, brighten the meal by adding some colorful bell peppers to the mix.  Then serve sloppy Joe meat on pretzel rolls (homemade, if you’d like!) and make a side of sweet potato fries or this healthy Garden Harvest Slaw (it’s the third recipe on the page).

Here is my favorite recipe for some fancy sloppy Joes.  I’ve played with it a bit, but it originally came from a friend who brought dinner to my husband and me several years ago when my husband was going through a long illness.  It was the perfect meal to fortify us, and I have always been thankful that she shared it with me and I’ve made it many times since, to feed guests or just to satisfy my own cravings for a delicious, hearty meal.

Sloppy Joes
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 colorful bell pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water, if needed to achieve the right consistency
Instructions
  1. Brown meat in a frying pan with onion, bell pepper and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Serve on soft rolls.

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Article written by Rebecca Talbot and coordinated by VanDuzer Design and Marketing for Lone Star Farm and may also be syndicated on Fig: West Chester and Rachel’s Farm Table.