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Cooking pasture-raised meats presents a special opportunity. Chicken and beef raised on grass are much more flavorful than conventionally-raised meat and poultry, and you want to make sure that your cooking technique showcases all that delicious flavor!
We find that Sara's Spring Chicken is much more moist than conventional poultry and therefore is a bit harder to overcook. But, the only way to be sure that you aren't overcooking is to use a meat thermometer (see below)! In general we prefer indirect cooking on the grill for a longer period of time over a quick cook directly over hot coals.
Special thanks to Shannon Hayes, author of Grassfed Gourmet, for sharing her tips.Use a Meat Thermometer
The safest way to ensure your meat is properly cooked is to monitor the internal temperature. You can do this with a meat thermometer—either an electric one with a probe that you insert before cooking (a cable that connects the probe and the screen allows you to monitor the temperature while cooking without opening the oven), or a manual-read thermometer, which you insert into the meat after taking it out of the oven. The USDA has a set of guidelines for internal temperatures that ensure food safety. Generally, these are a bit higher than most meat-lovers prefer. We’ve included the USDA temperatures below, as well as temperatures suggested by Shannon Hayes in her wonderful cookbook, Grassfed Gourmet. These temperatures are presented as a guideline only, and used with permission. Please note that any temperatures other than the USDA guidelines are to be used at your own risk!
Note: these are the suggested internal temperatures for when you take the meat out of the oven. Most meat should rest a little while before serving – from 5-10 minutes for steaks and chops to 15-30 minutes for roasts. During this time, the internal temperature may rise an additional 5 to 15 degrees.
Know what to do with different cuts of meat
Different cuts of meat come from different parts of the animal. Depending on whether that part gets a lot of use (such as a shoulder or thigh muscle) or minimal use (say, a chin or a breast), the meat will either benefit from slow cooking at low, wet heat, or fast cooking at high, dry heat. Knowing when to fire-up the grill and when to break out the crock-pot will be critical to your success with pastured meat (and if you’re new to one technique or the other, check out our recipes for suggestions for every cut of meat we offer).
The recipes on our website are for specific cuts, but we’ll tell you what other cuts are appropriate substitutes. In general, this chart will give you a sense of which cuts deserve which kind of cooking treatment: