Fat cows make a farmer happy; most of the time. A cow with a layer of insulating fat will stay warmer in winter than her thin sister. So I don't like to see bones or ribs on my beef cows.
Not all bovines can produce a layer of fat. You will rarely see a fat dairy cow because they use all their energy to produce milk, while beef cattle put their energy into building muscles to create meat.
But sometimes a steer goes from beefiness to obesity. As with people, obesity in cattle can lead to joint problems and difficulty walking, and the fat from an overweight cow is inferior. When rendered into lard for cooking, it can taste "off" and is usually discarded.
In my experience, getting cattle to lose weight is more challenging than putting it on; after all, there are no gyms for cows! I have seven overweight steers, and my alternative to the gym has been to leave them in a hilly 20-acre pasture, by themselves, all summer. After they have eaten all the easy-to-reach grass, they will walk miles around the field foraging for eats. I wonder if I could put a "step counter" on Topper, one of my obese steers, to determine how many miles he walks each day.
Of course, more mileage means tougher meat. That's why veal is so tender; young cattle haven't done much walking.
The thing is, tough meat also has more favor than tender cuts. I'm not planning to eat Topper, but I do have a fool-proof way to make tough cuts tender, delicious, and melt-in-your-mouth tasty if I wanted to. Don't tell anyone, but here is my secret: my pressure cooker. I don't use my mother's pressure cooker, which, when under pressure, the knob on the top rattled, just short of exploding. No, I use a modern version that won't explode. Even better is my Instant Pot because I can set the timer and forget about it; no more burned lamb stew or mushy rice.
Here's my favorite recipe for pot roast with rice. Didn't thaw the roast? Not to worry, you can cook a frozen-solid 3-pound roast in time for dinner. Here's how:
Pot Roast Recipe
You'll need 2-3 pounds of Miles Smith Farm brisket, clod, chuck, bottom round roast, and pressure cooker or an Instant Pot.
Add water (1 cup per pound), and salt, pepper, and garlic. If you're using an Instant Pot, press "Pressure Cook" and time it for 45 minutes. Is the roast frozen solid? No problem; add an hour (at least 20 minutes per pound) or about two hours total.
Release the pressure, open the cooker, and add rice (1 cup for each cup of water you added initially). The rice will absorb the broth leftover from cooking the roast. Set the Instant Pot for rice, and 15 minutes later, enjoy a delicious roast with superb rice.
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (www.milessmithfarm.com), where she raises and sells pastured pork, lamb, eggs and grassfed beef. She can be reached at email@example.com.