Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Painted Hills Ribeye Steak

My review of Painted Hills Natural Beef located in Wheeler County Oregon. This all natural beef has NO growth hormones, NO antibiotics, No by-products. The cattle are fed a 100% Vegetarian diet. For a large portion of their lives they free range on rolling grass hills and at about 14 months the cattle are moved to a finishing facility in which they are fed a combination of locally grown barley, corn and alfalfa hay.  

This farm also has Grass Fed Beef which I cannot wait to try. The differences between Grass Fed and all Natural Beef are simple. Grass-Fed Beef Cattle are pastured and maintained on a grass fed diet. 100% Corn-Free Veg Diet.  

My impromptu review of Painted Hills Natural steak came to pass because a benevolent meat-cutter (my friend Mike A) and a fan of the of Painted Hills Beef wanted me to try one of their steaks. Mike was convinced I would love their beef so he put his money where his mouth is and kindly purchased a 1.69 lb lb (29 oz) Rib-eye steak for me (thank you Mike). Mike A. has been around the block a few times and is a great connoisseur (go to guy) of meats. With that in mind; if Mike tells you that this is great beef you know you gotta give it a taste. It's worth mentioning that Mike works at Rays Meat Market in Gig Harbor which is a great little meat market that carries a great assortment of everything that is meat.

Lights on in Kitchen
Lights off in Kitchen
With all things being fair I will in the very near future purchase three steaks. One steak from QFC's Angus Butcher prepared Rib-eye, Two from Painted Hills (one natural and one grass fed) and compare them to each-other in a triple blind test. Triple blind test? You heard me, that's right... I will eat all three steaks blindfolded. So what were you expecting? You didn't think I was going to let other people eat my steaks....did you? Lets be honest here I won't share my meat with anyone.....the only exception might be my wife but that's about it.  If my wife agrees to cut my meat and feed me a bit for the test I might consider giving her a bite or two but over all these babies will be all mine. I love my meat!!!!!

I prepared this steak like I do so many other steaks which is Under-pressure or SOUS-VIDE. I could have placed this post in my Sous-Vide blog but this post is about a steak review and not about Sous-Vide cooking techniques.  

Lets talk about this steak. Yea, yea I know I already posted a picture of this steak but this is a bigger picture. Last time I had a Natural or Grass fed steak it did not look like anything like this.

Impressive marbling for a USDA Choice grade cut if I do say so myself and visually very appealing. 

Proponents of grass fed or natural beef say it's healthier and tastes better.

Hmm, I don't know about the taste part because it's been my experience that this can be a HIT or a MISS and sometimes a grand-slam but this is dependent of the farm, cow and type of grass the animal has pastured on. 100% grass fed beef will have less fat and give you a much higher percentage of omega 3 fatty acids. The steak I am eating today is of the natural variety and is described above. I have had grass fed beef and natural beef that tasted awful. In some instances the beef I tasted was overly gamey, sometimes flavorless and most often too lean. I don't recall eating a Grass Fed steak I liked. I will save that for my next review. 

This this was an impromptu steak meal so I didn't have a lot of time to properly dry-brine the meat. What I mean by dry brine is simply sprinkling salt on both sides of meat. 

The meat is then placed in the refrigerator on a trivet allowing the air to circulate around the meat for 3-4 hours. I dry-brined the beef for 2 hours using Montreal Steak seasoning. How simple is that?

Meat vacuumed sealed and ready Sous-vide. The meat will be cooked at 128.1 degrees for 2.5 hours. If I wanted to tenderize and break down all the connective tissue I could have cooked the beef for 3.5-4.5 hours. Since this meat is suppose to be top notch I wanted to evaluate the meat at 2.5 hours. 

To the left, a pic of Beef in Sous-vide and to the right a pic after Sous-vide. Obviously no Maillard reaction but the grill is fired up and awaiting the beef. Note: I ice-shocked the beef to bring down the temp prior to introducing it to the flames of the Weber. 

BBQ at 725  and meat fired on both sides for about a total of 90-120 seconds.

Gorgeous color but that is to be expected at an internal temp of 128.1 F.

Wow...see the fibers. Texture perfect!!!

So from my experience when you bite into pieces like these you catch gristle and a lot of connective tissue.  Not with these babies. Delicious fat!!!

Overall this steak was great. Big bold juicy beef flavor. Great marbling for a "USDA Choice grade cut". No gristle, and great tasting fat!!! This just my novice opinion but this specific steak was closer to prime than choice.  

I will do another review later on but like I said earlier and it will be a triple blind taste!!!! I will sit blindfolded and have my wife feed me three different steaks. I will prepare all 3 steaks the same way. I want to compare a 100% grass fed steak, Natural steak, and a QFC- Angus Butcher prepared steak. This is QFC's best steak. Stay tuned!!!! I will take some funny entertaining pics too.