Articles from June 2010

Know the Basics of Beef Cuts

This weekly blog shares insight and offers discussion on topics pertaining to Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range. We welcome and value your input—please post your comments and suggestions for future blogs. Want to contribute a blog? Let us know. Mahalo….Fern Gavelek

Know the Basics of Beef Cuts
The key for understanding beef cuts—and how to use them— is knowing where the meat originates on an animal.  Location determines a cut’s characteristics and recommended cooking techniques.

Meat is basically the muscle tissue of an animal, made up of water, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Muscles are made up of fibrous cells.

Steer beef cuts

*Diagram of the steer and where different cuts of meat come from.

According to Chris English, president of the Hawaii Cattleman’s Association, the more tender cuts of beef are found in the “middle meat” of a steer, or the rib and short loin areas. It’s where the least body movement and stress occurs.

Meat from the shoulder and hind areas, in comparison, has more collagen and elastin. These muscles do the most work and so their cuts are less tender.

Middle-meat cuts include a variety of steaks: New York strip, porterhouse, rib-eye, sirloin, t-bone and tri-tip.

“These steaks have marbled fat that’s in between the muscle fibers, details English, who is pasture and livestock manager at Ponoholo Ranch in North Kohala. “This marbling makes steaks juicy and flavorful.”

Tender, middle-meat cuts are best prepared using dry heat over a short time—grilling, broiling, pan-frying and sautéing. English says that grass-fed beef, which is leaner, requires a shorter cooking time in comparison to grain-fed beef, so keep this in mind to avoid overcooking.

Cuts with more connective tissue—round steak, swiss steak, boneless chuck (pot roast) and rolled rump—need slow, moist cooking to break down muscle fibers. They respond best to braising, stewing, pot roasting and pressure cooking.

English stresses that “end meats,” either from the chuck or round areas, can be just as tender and flavorful as from the rib and short loin, they simply require different cooking techniques.

Beef Cut Tip: Try Flat Iron Steak
English recommends trying an under-appreciated cut taken from the chuck primal of the steer; it’s called the “flat iron steak” or “shoulder top blade steak.”

“Through beef research, muscle profiling has discovered this cut is more tender than first thought…and it’s flavorful too. It’s historically been used as pot roast or ground beef,” he shares.  The flat iron steak is tender enough to be cooked on the grill with high, dry heat.

Grass-Fed Beef Recipe
Grass-Fed Flat Iron Steak | By Chef Paul Heerlein

* Image courtesy of Wikipedia from a US Government Public Domain file.


Recipe: Grass-Fed Flat Iron Steak

By Chef Paul Heerlein
Assistant Professor/Coordinator Culinary Arts at HawCC West Hawai‘i

Looking like an old-fashioned flat iron, the flat iron steak is uniform in thickness and rectangular in shape. The only variation is the cut into the middle of the steak where the connective tissues have been removed.

Like any non-loin steak, the flat iron benefits from marinating and is best if it isn’t cooked too well beyond medium so it doesn’t dry out.

In fact, I prefer to marinate grass-finished steak cuts in general as the meat is leaner—just to impart a healthy fat to the cut. Always get your meat to room temperature before preparing it.

Marinate steak with olive oil and a little Worcestershire sauce, plus salt, pepper and any herbs of your choice for 20 minutes.

Grill meat at medium high heat until grill marks show on the cut’s surface. The browning indicates the meat’s sugars and proteins are caramelizing to offer a wonderful flavor. Turn steak, repeat browning and insert a meat thermometer.  Then turn the heat down or move the meat off to the side and finish cooking to 122-125º medium rare.

Let your grilled steak sit for five minutes before slicing, otherwise all the juices will run out. I like to dip grilled steak in my Chef Paul’s Kona Coffee Barbecue Grilling and Dipping Sauce. The flavor of our local coffee really makes it special and also helps support local farmers,


What’s Happening at Hawai’i’s Mealani Research Station?

Hawai’i Agriculture Research Update

Aloha and welcome to our weekly blog sharing insight and offering discussion on topics pertaining to Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range. We welcome and value your input-please post your comments and suggestions for future blogs. Want to contribute a blog? Let us know. Mahalo….Fern Gavelek

Tea Fields of Mealani, Big Island, Hawaii

Tea Expert Offers Workshop

June brings lots of activity to the Big Isle’s Mealani Research Station. Tea specialist and author Jane Pettigrew comes from the U.K. to discuss tea culture, production and do a cupping evaluation 3 p.m. Friday, June 4. The $8 presentation is open to anyone interested in tea manufacture; phone 887-6185 to register.  Hawaii Tea Society info.

Grass-Fed Beef

Mealani goes into “breeding mode” during the summer, bringing cows into heat for artificial insemination to ensure a quality, grass-fed herd. In production since 1995, grass-fed beef studies continue with favorable results on taste and texture

New Alternative Crop Study

Started in 2009, Mealani planted a small arboretum of fruit trees to test varieties requiring a “lesser chill” than the temperate-zoned U.S. Mainland. Different types of peach, Surinam and bing-type cherries, plus persimmon are under observation.

Blueberries, Mealani, Big Island, Hawaii

New UH Culinary Program

Mealani Tea Fields, Big Island, Hawaii

Mealani is inviting UH culinary students and instructors to learn about products under production-especially grass-fed beef. The first field

station visit was in March and future chefs met the individuals involved in raising the cattle and viewed production practices while getting familiar with beef. The visit encourages interaction and fosters understanding between future chefs and food producers.

Next week: we discuss the difference in beef cuts.

Save the Date: Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is 6-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.