Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Winter's Meal - Beef Stew

Beef stew is the ultimate comfort food. Well, at least one of them. It is also a dish that can feed many for few dollars. You can use the cheapest cuts of beef to prepare a delicious stew. In some of the Lasater family samplers stew meat is included. If your sampler does not include stew meat you can use any of the following cuts of beef by cutting them into bite size pieces:
chuck roast
pot roast
rump roast

Moist-heat cooking, like that in stew, takes more time, but the results are excellent. The beef becomes tender and the broth develops a rich flavor. 

  • 1lb Lasater stew meat (if you have more meat then your stew will be meatier)
  • Olive oil, lard, bacon fat
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped large
  • 2-3 Carrots, sliced thick 
  • 1-2 Ribs celery, sliced thick
  • 1-2 Yams/potatoes (depending on size), bit size pieces
  • 2-3 C of Lasater beef broth  
  • ½ - ¾ C white or red wine or beer
  • 2-3 Medium tomatoes, chopped large  
  • 1 T fresh sage finely chopped 
  • ½ Bunch parsley (flat leaf preferred) 
  • 2 Bay leaves
browned stew meat
deglaze pan

Season beef generously
Heat the oil, lard or bacon fat in pot
Brown beef on both sides in pot
Add wine or beer to deglaze pot
Add onions, carrots, & celery saute for approximately 6-8 minutes
Add wine or beer to deglaze pot
Add broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and sage
Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low and cook for 2-3 hours to braise the meat (you can also braise the meat in a 350 degree oven if you prefer that to the stovetop.)
Add yams, potatoes, carrots 1 hour into braising, cook until tender.
Add arrowroot, cornstarch, flour or other thickening agent about 20-30 minutes before braising is complete.

5280 Magazine visits with Dale Lasater

If you would like to read a little more about the philosophy at Lasater Ranch, click the link below and read what Patrick Doyle, author of 'Home on the Range' has to say about the Lasater way of ranching.

"Dale Lasater takes the old-school approach to ranching: He places good cattle on the Colorado prairie—and then leaves the rest to nature."


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beef Stock at Home

Yesterday a group of folks showed up at my home and we prepared a few different dishes. Lots of cooking tips were shared by all. It was a group effort for the cooking, cleaning, and sharing that culminated with lots of eating. We started with beef stock; the basis of great soups, sauces and gravies.
  • 1 package Lasater meaty shanks
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley (flat leaf preferred)
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1-2 celery sticks (with leaves if possible)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 head garlic
  • ½ tbsp. Peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 T raw apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover beef soup bones or marrow bones with thin layer of tomato sauce. Marrow bones are from the straight portion of the leg bone containing the delicate fatty marrow tissue. Lasater soup bones are currently available as cross-section of marrow bones with meat. The tomato paste is used to enhance broth flavor. Besides being mother nature's natural MSG, during the roasting process, the tomato paste is caramelized which further adds to broth richness. Roasting also renders some of the fat that I like to include in the stock. Roast at 450 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
Lasater meaty shanks (soup bones)

Once the beef bones are roasted, add all ingredients to stock pot. Then fill pot with cold water. Cut garlic across the center of entire head, and quarter onion leaving peel intact. Place both in stock pot as is. 

Be sure to leave room for boiling and simmering approximately 2" below the top of pot. Bring ingredients to a boil, then lower and simmer for at least 12 - 24 hours.
Once your stock is ready, cool then strain using a 'strainer colander'. Store in quart size containers for use later.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Grassfed vs Organic, What Does it Mean?

My friend Rea recently asked if I would address the difference between organic beef and grassfed beef. These buzz words are everywhere we look, but what do these terms actually mean?

100% Grassfed Beef:
The term grassfed is used to explain how the cow was raised and fed. A grassfed animal was raised on pasture. At Lasater ranch the the cattle graze on a shortgrass prairie system their entire life.  Blue grama and buffalo grass are the dominant grass species present. Pronghorn, white tail deer, several species of small mammals and bison historically grazed in this ecosystem.
Lasater cattle are eating what they are designed to consume--grass and some forbs. A cow takes the cellulose in grass and turns it into protein. Jo Robinson writes about the benefits of eating pastured beef here: http://www.eatwild.com/basics.html

Grassfed beef is rich in the following: 
Vitamin E 
Beta carotene 
Good source for Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) 
Healthy ratio of Omega 3 to 6 Fatty Acid 
High quality protein 
Iron, zinc, selenium, and B-complex vitamins

Lasater ranch is organic and the cattle are grazing on grass and other short grass prairie species. 
Organic Beef: 
Certified organic beef is born and raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. Unless organic beef is labeled grassfed it is fed grain. This is where quality and health become a concern. Cattle raised on grain, even organic, are not healthy. Cattle are herbivorous ruminants (plant eaters that chew their cud). Cows are not accustomed to consuming grains. Why are they eating such an unnatural diet? It's economically profitable to feed cows subsidized grains that serve to rapidly pack on the pounds. Grains are high in energy and can fatten up the cow a lot faster than the natural way of letting the steer roam on a pasture and eat grass. Because the corn or grain disturbs their digestion, they are more apt to get sick. The grain prevents the rumen (first division of the cow stomach) from functioning as it should, and the cow becomes more susceptible to bloating which can lead to suffocation. Grain fed cattle may also get acidosis, which is the acidifying of the rumen. Eventually the rumen is ulcerated and this can and often does lead to liver disease. Organs failing are symtoms of sick animals which translates to less healthy beef. Cattle raised on grain, even organic, are not as healthy as cattle raised on grass.  There is a very lengthy interview with Michael Pollen addressing the issue of feeding grain to cattle and health concerns here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/interviews/pollan.html

Practice discretion when buying organic beef. 100% grassfed beef is best! I hope this helps answer some questions you may have regarding these two terms.

Green Meatballs?

Yes! Yummy green meatballs with kale, Swiss chard or collard greens. My friend Kirsten Boyer. originally introduced me to this scrumptious dish. We eat these for breakfast too! There are many different renditions, but this is the recipe I found to be the simplest.
ingredients mixed
shaped meatball

Melanie Vrencur and I have made these meatballs together, and learned that if you don't shape your meatball well it will fall apart during cooking. Included are photos of well formed meatballs and also the tragic one that fell apart during cooking--don't let it happen to you.  Serve with rice, sourdough bread, or pasta.  
searing meatballs
meatball falling apart

  • lb Lasater ground beef 
  • 1lb ground pork (if you only have beef use 2lbs beef) 
  • 2 carrots shredded  
  • 1 medium bunch parsley 
  • 1 onion finely chopped 
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped 
  • 1 head kale or Swiss chard or collard greens 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 Cup WF classic breadcrumbs (or more if needed)
  • olive oil for searing 
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  • 26oz stained tomatoes 
  • thyme/tarragon/oregano
  • 1 Cup red wine 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup water if necessary
Before Baking
After Baking
Using a food processor, chop finely together kale, onions, garlic, and parsley. Using food processor grating tool-grate carrots, then use chopping tool to finely chop those grated carrots. Mix all ingredients except last 5 in bowl. Be sure mixture is not too dry or too wet. If too dry add another egg. If too wet add more breadcrumbs. Form meatballs. Sear meatballs in olive oil. Deglaze the pan with red wine while meatballs are in the pan. Baked meatballs: Place meatballs on sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned. Place in stock pot.
Add last 5 ingredients and simmer for 45 min - 1 hour. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Easiest Pot Roast Ever!

Michelle Sanders sent over this delicious English pot roast recipe. The original source is a blog called Fran's Kitchen. This is a sure thing with little to no prep time involved. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! Serve with a nice crusty bread, fall greens, & a big glass of wine.

  • 3-5 pound roast cut into a few large pieces
  • 1 Large onion
  • 1 Cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup olive oil
  • 1 Cup red wine 
  • 3-4 Cloves garlic
  • Salt & pepper
*Special Note: My friend Melanie added vegetables to this recipe, and they were too acidic. I recommend following the recipe.
Meat tends to cook down, so it's important to cook it in liquids that are full of flavor.
Peel onion and slice in 1 inch thickness. Line bottom of crock pot with onion.
Salt and pepper the meat and place on top of the onion.
Combine (No need to combine if you are in a rush) vinegar, oil, wine, and garlic and pour on top of meat. The liquid should come up to the bottom of the meat. You can add more liquid or water.
Set for 8 hours on low (most tender meat) or 6 hours on high and try not to dig in too early!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Edible Front Range-The Cow Whisperer

Edible Front Range featured Dale Lasater and Lasater Grassland Beef in their Winter 2010 issue. For any of you that are fortunate to take a day next spring and visit the ranch with me, we will ride in the old Suburban and try whispering too.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Visit to the Ranch

Early Summer 2010 we ventured to the Ranch with some friends from Abbondanza Organic Farm in Boulder, Co. Dale Lasater took us for a ride where we met up with the cattle. This shortgrass prairie ecosystem is so beautiful. It once covered most of eastern Colorado. Today, nearly 50% of our native shortgrass prairie has been converted for other uses such as agriculture.  The pronghorn graze alongside the cattle while songbirds are extremely abundant. 

The kids were with us and had a blast visiting with the cattle. At the end of this gorgeous day we ate a delicious meal of Lasater brisket, boiled potatoes, and a scrumptious salad courtesy of our dear friend Michelle Sanders.

Beef Brisket Recipe 


  • 1 (5 pound) beef brisket
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Merlot wine
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 3 carrots sliced
  1. Season the beef brisket with salt, pepper and a generous amount of olive oil then place into a roasting pan. Combine the Merlot and balsamic vinegar; pour in with the steak.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  3. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
  4. Bake for 3 hours in the preheated oven, then peel back the aluminum foil and add carrots to the pan. Cover again and continue roasting for an addition 1 to 2 hours, or until the brisket can be pulled apart with a fork.