This is a sponsored blog post where I received a free sample of the product from Plaid Cow Society and the potential for monetary consideration in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I pity anyone who hasn’t woken up, checked the mail and found a giant package full of fresh, never frozen, grass fed beef waiting for them! That’s what happened to me one fateful day when Plaid Cow Society sent me an incredibly generous 2-person free sample of their beef to try. The package contained 2 pounds of ground beef, 12 oz. of NY Strip, 12 oz. of Flat Iron Steak, 16 oz. of Top Sirloin, 12 oz. of Skirt Steak, and 16 oz. of Tri-Tip Steak.
Color: As soon as I opened the refrigerated package, I could immediately see a huge difference between a lot of the meat at most grocery stores and the standard of meat delivered to me from Plaid Cow. Fresh, grass fed beef is often a deep red instead of that sickly pink or gray color defrosted grocery store meat gets from sitting around. Some meat packagers infuse the package with gases to make the meat stay red, so color isn’t the only indicator of good meat, but Plaid Cow Society doesn’t employ this technique.
Size: Anyone familiar with the sizes of steaks at the grocery store or at a steak house might think that a 6 to 8 oz steak isn’t all that big compared to the 12, 16, and 20+ oz. cuts we’re used to seeing. Plaid Cow Society’s answer is that what you’re actually eating when you get a 12 oz. steak is about a third less than what you’re paying for. That’s because a grocery store will sell you meat containing fat, grizzle, and bones that increase the weight of the meat. All of Plaid Cow’s meat comes trimmed of any unsightly grizzle that a person might not normally eat while leaving the fat that marbles the meat intact. The New York Strip is a great example because it usually has a strip of fat that runs down the side of the steak. This extra fat is trimmed off leaving only the meat.
Trimming the Fat: I’ll be the first to admit that I have mixed feelings about the trimming of the fat because a lot of that fat adds wonderful juiciness and flavor to the meat while cooking. Is it healthy for you? Not really, but it can make the meat taste great. Some people, including myself, enjoy eating some of that fat along with the meat as well. With that said, I still completely and totally loved every piece of meat I received from Plaid Cow Society. The fat may be trimmed, but the flavor is all there. For example, when I cooked up one of their Flat Iron steaks what I saw was a lean piece of meat with a nice, clean, marbling of natural fat. I used a cast iron skillet and cooked the beef according the instructions that come with every package Plaid Cow sends.
Taste: I cooked the flat iron steak to a perfect medium and marveled at the beautiful pink color inside and the dark brown outside. No gray-looking parts anywhere. The texture of the meat has the firm tenderness of fresh beef instead of the grainy mushiness of pre-frozen meat. The most notable difference between grass fed beef and corn, grain, or soy fed beef is the taste. Grass fed cows taste more of the minerals they eat than the blander, sweeter taste of corn or grain fed cows from feed lots. That mineral and iron-rich taste is how healthy, properly fed and treated cows should taste, but it can take some getting used to for people unfamiliar with it. I highly recommend it though.
Even the ground beef has that same mineral-like quality of grass fed beef. That means anything you would normally make with ground beef has an even more pronounced beef character than some of the milder meat at the grocery store. I toasted up a couple of patty melts and I could easily taste the beef shining through the cheese and caramelized onions.
Sourcing: Plaid Cow Society sources their meat domestically in the U.S. from drug/hormone free, pasture raised cattle (i.e. cows that are free to roam around and eat grass instead of tightly packed corrals) in Oregan, Nebraska, and California. They send their meat to customers as it is ordered so it’s never frozen and so that they can keep waste as low as possible. They also employ USDA-inspected butchers to ensure the quality of their meat.
Please check out this link to an infographic called, “Sins of Meat,” where you can learn more about Plaid Cow Society and the differences between their beef and the beef commonly found elsewhere.