If you are new to grass-fed products and feel unsure about how to cook meat or fowl please read Achieving Culinary Success With Grass-Fed Beef. This is a long essay but it explains the differences between conventional and pastured animals. The essay discusses the interesting topic of artisan butchery and how this specialty is being regulated out of existence.
One tool that is very useful in cooking pastured meat and fowl is to “put away your timer and get a good meat thermometer”. I started doing this after reading The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes. I found it took all the mystery out of cooking a turkey or a very large roast. The fowl or meat would always turn out wonderful. The temperatures below are from her cookbook and I have found the temperatures to always produce a succulent meal. She recommends allowing the meat to sit on the counter and rest after cooking. It is interesting to watch the temperature continue to increase after the meat is out of the oven. The temperatures are for grass-fed meats and the standard recommended temperatures are in parentheses. I like my meat rare inside, so I normally use the lower suggested temperatures.
Beef: 120-165F (140-170F)
Bison: 120-165F (140-170F)
Chicken (unstuffed): 120-165F (140-170F)
Duck: 160-170F (180F)
Goat: 120-145F (140-170F)
Goose: 170F (180F)
Lamb: 120-145F (140-170F)
Rabbit: 160F (160F)
Pork: 145-165F (170F)
Turkey (unstuffed): 160-165F (180F)
Veal: 120-165F (140-170F)
Venison: 120-165F (140-170F)
One of the joys of buying whole animals, is having a choice of cuts that you have never tried before. If you do not know your cuts of meats, you can learn about cuts from books such as the Joy of Cooking. I have found butchers very helpful with learning about cuts of meat and offal. Get every part of the animal you can, even if you don’t know what to do with it. It’s fun to learn how to cook strange parts of the animal! Another great source is Offal Good.
Dry heat is better for some cuts of meat and moist heat is a must for others. The use of rubs and pastes tenderize meats and add exotic flavors. Or you can tenderize with devices like Jaccard Meat Tenderizer. Super slow cooking can soften the toughest meats by cooking at the lowest temperature your oven will go. Most modern ovens will not go below 150-170F.
Remember to save the juice, bones and fat drippings from fowl and meat. The juice is a wonderful base for soups and stews. The bones can be saved in the freezer for bone broth. The fat drippings are good for frying or oven roasting just about anything. I always try to have a grease bucket in the fridge or by my stove for quick use. Fats from animals can take high heat frying much better than even butter which can burn. Read The Grease Bucket and Beautiful Bone Broth for more information. Coconut oil is safe for cooking but save your extra virgin olive oil for pouring over salads or other unheated foods. I do not recommend using industrial oils of any kind. Actually, I think industrial oils and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are the two worst modern food additives. Unfortunately, they are in most processed foods.
Full-flavored meat comes from animals that have led a full life… Life intensifies flavor, and modern meat animals are living less and less.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee