Dining

Magic Ingredient: Beef

When other crops are under snow, you can still buy Colorado-grown meat.

January 2008

When stores like Wal-Mart tout locally grown produce and carry organic goods, it's safe to say we're in the midst of a food revolution. Yet for all the good intentions, it's easy to buy local or organic when it's convenient—such as in summer when farmers' markets abound—and jump ship when it's not. But even now, when Colorado fields are blanketed by snow, some local goods are still available. One of the most readily available is all-natural beef.

Throughout the state, more and more ranchers are aligning their operations with this movement. At Greener Pastures Ranch in Steamboat Springs, there are no tiny pens, no antibiotics, no growth hormones, and no feedlots for artificial fattening. "Our philosophy is to give [cattle] a calm environment," says Mary Jenkins, who runs the operation with her husband, Tim. Cows graze freely on a 154-acre open range, eating grass in the summer, hay from the Jenkins' own fields in the winter, and all-natural grain. The resulting grass-fed beef is leaner than traditional beef, without being gamey.

You'll taste the difference in this recipe for grilled New York strip steak from Denver's Campo de Fiori.

RECIPE: Tagliata di Bue (Serves 1, but multiplies easily)

  • 4 red new potatoes, halved
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 New York strip steak, about 10 to 20 ounces
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/4 red onion, julienned, about 2 ounces
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss potatoes in olive oil with a spring of fresh rosemary, and roast on a baking sheet for 20 to 30 minutes or until done. Rub the steak with olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and cook on a hot grill or sear pan. While the steak cooks, combine the arugula, onions, and tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently, then put the salad and potatoes on a plate.

Tagliata is the Italian word for "sliced," so when the beef is cooked to your liking let it rest a minute or two. Then slice and place atop the salad, drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar, and serve.

Note: If cooking for more than one person, simply multiply ingredients by the number of guests.