Tag Archives: grassfed


Everything you want to know about humanely raised beef, pork, and chicken

Humanely-raised meat — ethically, pasture-raised with sustainable farming practices involved — is of higher quality than standard, factory-farm meat for a number of reasons. Most importantly, animals live better when raised by ethically-minded farmers and ranchers.

It’s important that animal health is considered in every step of the lifecycle. Their natural tendencies should be honored: Cattle should be able to roam, hogs graze, and chickens should be raised on pasture.

When it comes to understanding humanely-raised meat, it is good to get a grasp of the decisions made by family farmers for whom animal welfare is a top priority. Was the animal healthy and content? Was it ever administered antibiotics or hormones? Farms and company facilities should operate with best practice s— for example, Dr. Temple Grandin’s livestock principles.

Below, we detail ethical practices for farming and processing grass-fed and finished beef, heritage-breed pork, and organic, free-range chicken.

Grass-fed, grass-finished beef

Only one percent of the total beef consumed in the United States is 100 percent grass-fed and grass-finished. American beef that meets that standard comes from cattle that were free to roam on pasture throughout their entire lives, nursing from their mother for six to nine months, and then grazing on a natural diet of grass. Grass-fed and grass-finished cattle — usually only referred to as grass-fed — consume only grass for the entirety of their post-nursing lives, while grain-fed cattle may have been supplemented with grain or corn or finished with grain.

Grass-fed cattle feed on annual and perennial grasses, forbs—herbaceous flowering plants—and cereal grain in a pre-grain state. Grass-fed cattle graze year-round, with access to shelter when needed. 

This is in contrast to grain-fed cattle, which constitute the vast majority of beef consumed in the United States. Grain-feeding cattle is a relatively recent development; animals throughout most of history were free to roam and eat grass.

While grass-fed cattle roam freely in the fresh air, grain-fed cattle are moved to concentrated feedlots. They’re fed a grain-centric diet based on soy or corn and put on weight more rapidly than pasture-raised cattle. They are often treated with antibiotics and hormones to maximize growth. A vast majority experience very poor living conditions their entire lives. 

Beyond concerns about the life of the animal, grass-fed beef also offers major health benefits to the consumer. Typically leaner, it’s less fatty and caloric. It boasts more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef, more antioxidant vitamins and more healthy fats that might reduce chronic diseases.

While the animal’s food source is crucial to its quality, it’s equally important to ensure that the animal is humanely raised. In order to be certified humane in the United States, the animal can never be confined for intensive feeding. It must have access to adequate grazing pasture. It can only be confined for no more than 20 days a year for animal management, like husbandry or treatment.

A majority of the grass-fed, grass-finished beef on the market comes from Australia, which has very high animal welfare standards as well as the climate and pasture land to allow cattle to spend their entire lives grazing.

Heritage-breed pork

Berkshire, Chester White, Duroc—have you heard of these breeds of pig? They belong to a class known as heritage-breed pork. Traditionally bred for food, these breeds of pig dwindled in numbers during the rise of industrial agriculture. Heritage-breed pigs are better adapted to withstand disease and live in open pasture. Unlike factory farmed pigs, heritage-breed pigs are not treated with antibiotics, hormones, and don’t live in temperature-controlled indoor units. They possess unique genetic traits and are raised on sustainable farms.

In order to be considered certified humane, these pigs are not subjected to farrowing and gestation stalls. Gestation stalls enclose sows during pregnancy, while farrowing stalls pen sows in while nursing piglets. Just as with cattle, there are no concentrated feeding operations. While conventionally farmed pigs typically have slatted floors in their environments—proven to increase leg problems for pigs—heritage breed pigs are raised on farms without slatted floors.

Perhaps the best part about heritage-breed pork is its delicious, succulent flavor. Heritage-breed pork is more marbled than conventionally-farmed pork, meaning juicier, more flavorful meat.

Some breeds take a bit of time to get to market weight, but they’re so delicious, they’re worth the wait.


Organic, free-range chicken

Chickens given regular access to the outdoors, rather than being kept in heavily confined conditions, are much happier than their factory-farmed counterparts.

These birds are called free-range chickens. They have access to as much outdoor space as they do indoor space, including special enhancements like hay bales and places to climb. They roost in barns and roam in and out as they please, interact with other chickens, and live as nature intended. This results in a stress-free, cage-free, happy life for the chicken. The quality of your meat, in turn, is much higher.

In addition to free-range, higher quality chickens should be antibiotic and hormone free. Unfortunately, factory-farmed chickens are usually subjected to an array of antibiotics. Hormones, however, are prohibited across the industry.

Chickens fed vegetarian diets from both foraged and feed sources tend to be healthier. Additionally, free-range chicken often forage for bugs, grubs, and the like, which is exceptionally healthy for them. With non-genetically modified grain diets and pesticide-free growing environments for the feed, these chickens qualify as non-GMO and organic. Plus, in addition to being humanely-raised and healthier for you, they taste delicious.


NY strip steak – An iconic steak in New York and beyond for good reason

You can find it featured on the menu of most reputable steakhouses, and although it goes by various names, when one thinks of a perfectly sized, tender, and flavorful cut of beef, likely, they are imagining a New York strip steak.

The strip steak comes from the topmost section of the sirloin, a little-used area of muscle, the longissimus, that is commonly referred to as the strip loin or top loin. The strip steak is sometimes prepared with a bone attached; quite often, you can find the strip is part of a T-bone steak or Porterhouse steak when part of a larger bone-in cut that also includes tenderloin steak — by itself, filet mignon. 

Delmonico steak, Kansas City strip steak, or NY strip steak?

As a standalone steak, it is most commonly referred to as the New York strip steak, but it can also be called the New York sirloin steak, the Kansas City steak (with bone-in) or Kansas City strip steak, contré filet, strip loin steak, hotel steak, ambassador steak, club sirloin steak, or in some parts of the world, simply sirloin steak. Also, the New York strip can be — or has been known — as the Delmonico steak.

The connection to Delmonico’s, the famous New York steakhouse and restaurant first opened in Lower Manhatten in the 1820’s, is likely how the cut earned its most famous moniker, the New York strip steak. However, it is unclear if a Delmonico steak, or the original Delmonico steak, is, or ever was a strip steak from the top loin or a ribeye steak. The reason for the confusion is likely due to steakhouses across the country seeking to mimic Delmonico’s famous steaks, but using an array of different — yet similarly tender and thick — cuts. Those who have investigated the Delmonico and New York strip steak connection, refer to the cut also being called a club steak, a reference to the restaurant’s early days as one of the first American dining clubs. 

However convoluted the naming history of the cut may be, one thing isn’t up for debate: New York strip steaks take relatively little preparation and can be cooked to a melt-in-your-mouth level of deliciously quite easily.


The perfect NY strip steak

Whether pan seared — or reverse seared — grilling on a charcoal or gas grill, or cooking by some other method, all a New York strip steak really needs is a coating of crushed black pepper and kosher salt or sea salt and some compound butter. Just a few ingredients, a few minutes of cooking time, and you can get the perfect steak for any steak lover. The easy prep is one of the reasons it pops up on restaurant menus so often.

According to ButcherBox Head Chef Yankel Polak, the lack of too much visible fat also makes New York strip steak a steakhouse favorite.

“There is a breed of steak lover out there who likes things a bit leaner,” Chef Yankel explains. “I used to see them in restaurants all the time; they would order a big ol’ ribeye and leave all that amazing fat sitting on the plate. It inspired me to offer a NY strip steak as the lean alternative.”

“When butchered properly, it has only a thin strip of fat running down one side — and besides its natural marbling — the strip steak presents itself as the less fatty menu option,” continues Chef Yankel.

And, there is a business reason as well: According to Chef Yankel, a NY strip steak is a high-value item for a restaurant because there is nearly no waste. “It dry ages well, cooks quickly, and requires almost no skill to do it perfectly and deliciously.”

“Personally I like slow smoking them at 225°F until they are rare, resting them for a bit, and then finishing them over a raging fire for the ultimate crust,” he added.

The cut does also benefit from a bit of marinating if you want to marry a grass-fed, grass-finished New York strip steak to other flavors you may be preparing. Below are two of Chef Yankel’s favorite methods for marinating and cooking the perfect New York strip steak.

NY Strip Steak with Chef Yankel’s Zesty Marinade Recipe


  • 2 ButcherBox NY Strip Steaks
  • 3 limes, zest and juice
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbsp crushed black pepper
  • ¼ c olive oil


1. Combine all ingredients for marinade in small bowl. Mix well and coat steaks thoroughly.

2. Allow steaks to marinate refrigerated at least one hour, then bring steaks to room temp before cooking.

3. Grill steaks over charcoal or open flame for 4 to 6 min per side, or until internal temperature reads 120°F. Rest steak 8 min before serving.

Chef Yankel’s  5-minute NY Strip Steak Marinade Recipe



  • 2 ButcherBox NY Strip Steaks


  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar (the higher-quality, the better!)
  • ½ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Bring steaks to room temperature and season with salt and pepper.

3. Mix all marinade ingredients. Pour ¼ c over steaks and let them sit at room temp for 5 min.

4. Preheat cast-iron skillet. Once skillet is hot, sear steaks on both sides for 2-3 min per side or until a nice crust forms.

5. Place pan in oven for 5 more min, or until thermometer inserted in thickest part of steak reads 120°F.

6. Let steaks rest for at least 8 min before slicing. Serve alongside salad and enjoy!

Baby back ribs – A smoky, sticky summer treat that you can enjoy anytime

Baby back ribs are a staple of true barbecue masters’ arsenal — from St. Louis to Memphis, South Carolina to the heart of Texas.

And whether slow cooked for a few hours in a Crock Pot or an entire day in a smoker, baby back ribs are delectable no matter how they are prepared.

The cut comes from the top of a pig’s rib cage, specifically the area just below the loin between the spine and what we know of as the spare ribs. Baby back ribs are distinguishable by their tapered shape and the greater amount of meat — compared to spare ribs — often found on top of and between the rib bones. Usually, a rack of baby back ribs includes between eight to 13 ribs that vary in length from three inches to about six inches.

While any reputable smokehouse or barbecue shop will have baby back ribs, how to cook them — more specifically, how to flavor them — is a source of disagreement among the major barbecue regions of America: Carolina, Texas, Memphis, and Kansas City styles. Although we don’t have to break down which version of BBQ is best at this moment, there is something perfect with having a little sweet and savory flavor added to baby back ribs. 


Baby back ribs are also one of the cuts of heritage-breed pork that ButcherBox Head Chef Yankel Polak loves to experiment with when he cooks.

“Every time I cook baby back ribs, I learn something new,” Chef Yankel says. “They are super flavorful and have just the right amount of fat.”

“And of course anything with a bone attached is just that much better.”

There are many ways to cook baby back ribs. You can check out a few in our recipe pages.

But Chef Yankel has a very specific method to get his ribs just right: “I give them one hour of smoke at 225°F, then two hours in the oven at 250°F, wrapped tightly in foil, bone side down and with a splash of vinegar.”

“To finish,” Chef Yankel explains, “I give them 30 minutes on the grill with about 10 applications of a sweet and sticky BBQ sauce.”

You can check out Chef Yankel preparing his “Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs with Chipotle Pineapple BBQ Sauce” in this video or use the “Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Ribs” recipe below if you don’t have a smoker but want to slow cook your baby back ribs.

Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Ribs


  •  1 pack ButcherBox Baby Back Ribs

The Rub:

  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ginger powder
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1  tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt

The Liquid

  • ¼ c maple syrup
  • ¼ c coconut amino
  • ¼ c sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp liquid smoke


      1. Pat dry ribs with a paper towel and peel off membrane on the bone side of ribs. You can also score the membrane with a sharp paring knife in an ‘X’ formation.
      2. Mix all rub ingredients and massage into ribs.
      3. Place all liquid ingredients in slow-cooker, then add ribs. Cook on low setting for 4 hrs.
      4. Let rest in liquid 20 minutes before serving.
      5. For a super quick sauce, remove ribs from slow-cooker, then place all liquid in saucepan, and simmer until thickened.
      6. Pour over ribs and broil for extra crispy texture and real BBQ flavor!