It’s hard avoiding all the negative – and sadly true – news coming out of Puerto Rico this summer. Countless articles explain how the government borrowed beyond its means during the last four decades and the reasoning behind many families leaving the island in record numbers since the 1950s. Not as many articles have been written about the creative ways some Puerto Ricans are trying to solve some of our more pressing issues, like economic growth and sustainability. And there are many people who are leading the way down that road through entrepreneurship and collaboration. We – as a society – need to get through our thick skulls (and sluggish butts) that supporting these local products (and the businesses that consume them) is crucial for our economic recovery.
Let’s go to the
mall Plaza del Mercado today
We found out about Cabo Rojo Steaks, a local grass-fed cattle ranch operation, through a friend. Their Providencia Ranch is located in Cabo Rojo, a town in the Southwestern corner of the island, but they have a retail operation at the Santurce Plaza del Mercado. Their cattle is fully grass-fed, free range, and humanely raised for eighteen months. The Cabo Rojo Steaks product line includes everything – from the traditional steaks cuts, beef stew chunks, and churrascos to bones for stock, heart, tongue, liver… it’s all available at the Placita or by special order. All of their cuts are portioned and vacuum sealed for easy selection and storage.
Prior to cooking these steaks, I did not have experience working with grass-fed beef. Beef from grass-fed, free range cattle is leaner than the varieties more commonly available in retail. There is much less marbling, as you can see on the picture of the ribeye steak above. To ensure the meat remains tender, it is best to cook it to medium temperature at most. We coated these steaks in oil, salt and pepper just before tossing them over the hot coals.
Curry can’t be hurried
Grass-fed beef has a gamier flavor than corn fed varieties. If you like lamb or goat, you would definitely enjoy the taste of grass-fed beef. When we were looking at the different cuts at their counter at la Placita, I knew I wanted to marry the flavor of the beef with curry. Curried goat stews are very popular all through the Caribbean. Somewhere along curry’s journey from India (through Britain) to the West Indies its flavor mellowed out, it met a tomato or two, and obtained its own culinary identity.
This curry recipe would work well with short ribs, beef stew chunks, boneless skinless chicken thighs, and of course the shanks (osso buco). The smells that will come out of the oven while the beef braises… YUM! Plan to make this recipe with plenty of time. Prepping for the recipe and searing the beef takes approximately twenty minutes, and it the braising process requires two and a half hours. It will be worth the time: the meat from the shanks will fall of the bone, and explode with flavor. There will be plenty of sauce to soak up with white long grain rice, apio root puree, or mashed cauliflower.
Cabo Rojo Steaks has a retail outpost at the Placita de Santurce, operating at regular market hours from Monday through Saturdays. All of the products featured in this article were purchased with our own funds. We did not receive any compensation for writing this article or developing the curried grass-fed beef shanks recipe.