Taste of the Hawaiian Range this Friday


If you think of a sprawling ranch when you think of grass-fed beef, the 18th annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range will live up to your expectations as it sprawls inside and outside at the Hilton Waikoloa Village from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Many cuts of local grass-fed beef, as well as locally grown produce and products, will be available for sampling during this “grazing” extravaganza by 35 restaurants and their chefs.

It looks like regular beef; cooks like it, too. But proponents of grass-fed beef say it is really quite better: for the environment, for the consumer, and even for the animal. If we want to be sticklers, we should call it “grass-finished” beef, since most cattle will eat grass and hay at some point in their lives, but the difference is the just-before-slaughter time. Most beef cattle will be switched to a grain, usually corn, diet, which adds weight quicker. These grain diets often include antibiotics and other additives. Feedlots can contribute health and environmental risks to the public, according to a report by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. Grass-finished beef, on the other hand, avoids these problems and offers a leaner alternative with higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, as well as no additives.

The event also includes vendor booths, and a chance to meet the farmers and ranchers. Tickets are $40 presale or $60 at the door, and can be purchased at 13 Big Isle locations: Blue Kalo, Cafe Pesto, Hilo Bay Cafe and Kuhio Grille in Hilo; JJ’s Country Market in Honokaa; Island Naturals and Kona Wine Maket in Kailua-Kona, Gio’s Gelato in Kainaliu, Parker Ranch Store and Kamuela Liquors in Waimea; Kohala Burger and Taco in Kawaihae, and Kohala Essence Shop at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Also available are $10 tickets for the “Cooking Grass-Fed Beef 101” class by Chef Hubert des Marais of the Fairmont Orchid. This demo will be held at 3 p.m. and includes sampling. Purchase tickets at Kuhio Grill, JJ’s Country Market and Kohala Essence Shop.

Until then, two of Hawaii’s chefs who are debuting this year at the event have shared recipes using grass-fed beef.

Grilled skirt steak, mizuna and farro salad

Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi of TASTE Table in Honolulu prefers grass-fed beef for its flavor and lack of antibiotics, and says it’s better for the animal. His favorite cuts are the less-used ones.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

You can prepare the beef and farro on one day, then finish the salad and grill the next day.

Prepare beef:

2 pounds grass-fed skirt steak

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 to 6 pieces green onion bottoms, crushed

1 tablespoon shio koji (sold in glass jars, this is steamed rice fermented in salt)

1 piece Hawaiian chili pepper, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients; marinate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Farro:

½ small onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 pound farro or barley

¼ cup sake

2 ¼ cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water

2 tablespoons white miso

2 bay leaves

3 or 4 parsley stems

2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

In a heavy pot with lid, saute onion, carrot and celery until onions begin to turn translucent. Add farro; toast until it starts to turn brown and gets a nutty aroma. Add sake; deglaze until alcohol smell dissipates. Add stock, miso, bay leaves and parsley. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook 18 to 20 minutes. Farro should be al dente; if not, add a little more liquid and continue to simmer until done. Pour into a cookie sheet and cool; store in covered container until ready to use.

To finish:

Light a grill and prep the following:

1 pound mizuna, stem on (or substitute kale, chard or dandelion greens)

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ small onion, thinly sliced with the grain

3 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

3 tablespoons green onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle olive oil on mizuna; season with salt and pepper. When grill is hot, quickly char the mizuna on both sides; remove from heat and rough chop. Combine mizuna and remaining ingredients with the reserved farro. Grill marinated steak to desired temperature; let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Slice thin and serve with farro salad.

Hamburger mix and gravy

Chef Korie Nazara of Mahina Cafe in Captain Cook uses grass-fed beef because it supports local farmers and has no antibiotics or hormones. He likes the knuckle cut (also called sirloin tip roast) for making teri-beef and French dip sandwiches.

Makes 10 burgers.

2 ½ pounds grass-fed ground beef, 80 percent lean

½ sweet onion, peeled and diced

½ cup whole oats

1 egg

2 tablespoons garlic salt

Knead all ingredients together in a bowl; form into patties. Grill as desired or use for hamburger steak or loco moco.

Gravy:

This requires cooking the burgers in a skillet and saving the drippings. Add a little water to drippings in skillet. Make a roux with equal parts flour and butter; slowly add some of the warm drippings to the roux, making sure it doesn’t clump. Pour roux into pan, stir and heat until thickened.

Kulana Foods of Hilo produces grass-fed beef under the Hawaii Island Grass-Fed Beef label, available at all KTA Superstores islandwide. Find out where to get other locally raised meats at the event.