Photography by Jen Britton
That romantic image may be stuck in our collective conscious, but it’s no secret that this lifestyle and line of work has come into the modern age. It would be a challenge to picture that same person living and working in nearby Orange County—let alone showing up at the farmers market to sell locally raised, grass-fed beef.
Yet that is exactly what Frank Fitzpatrick of 5 Bar Beef in Silverado is doing.
The Barzona herd at 5 Bar Beef are descendants of a lean and hardy breed that was developed in the 1940s in Arizona to tolerate the arid, hot conditions of the American West. The cattle, which eat up to 120 pounds of tall grass a day before reaching a weight around 1,500 pounds, need wide swaths of land to graze. They are rugged, and able to find food where others may not.
The medium-sized animals need that grass to survive and to come which will allow for the meat to beautifully char and seal. Following that approach will bring out the best that this beef has to offer.
In an effort to educate people on how to get the best results from their premium product, the Irvine-based CSA Zucchinixpress is working with Fitzpatrick on how-to videos that will be available online. They also have well-tested recipes on their website.
The ideal way to experience the difference between grass-fed and corn-fed, is with the most basic preparation: tartar. If you’re so inclined, 5 Bar Beef provides the option of ordering pre-frozen ground meat, making preparation a simple task
Zucchinixpress partner Alison Brown says that they have been carrying the all-natural hormone-free beef for more than a year via their popular, organic, local and seasonal CSA. With a commitment to Orange County vendors, she says, 5 Bar Beef was a perfect fit with their other exceptional products.
“People are becoming more and more interested finding local and organic prod- ucts with a low carbon footprint. They are concerned about living on a healthy planet and our products, including 5 Bar Beef, help people feel good about what they are eating. After generations of taking from the earth, it’s nice to support a farmer that gives back.”
At Heirloom LA, Tara Maxey and her partner, Matt Poley, wanted to source from a rancher raising 100% grass-fed cattle and have become good friends with the cowboy. They use his product in a variety of dishes from their popular, healthy catering kitchen, to the delight of their customers.
“It’s very lean so it needs to be rare or medi- um-rare for the most part, but we braise the shank like short ribs,” Maxey says. “It’s very important to cook grass-fed beef mindfully.”
The philosophy at Heirloom LA is what brought them to 5 Bar Beef. “We should all eat less meat so that we as a country can meet the demands to raise all livestock humanely and in the most natural way with the least amount of pollution, like Frank does.”
To many, grass-fed meat is the way of the past, and for certain, the way of the future. It requires thought and a dedication to stewardship that is reflected in the end product.
So next time your find yourself visiting Frank at the Irvine farmers market on a sunny Orange County Saturday morning, make sure to say hello and ask what he has on hand that day. Chances are, you’ll like what he has to say, and will go home happy, knowing you are supporting one of the few ranchers dedicated to bringing the best to Southern California.