What Is Dexter Beef? An Expert’s Guide

Have you ever heard of Dexter beef?

This small breed of cattle, originating in Ireland, is known for its high-quality and environmentally-friendly meat.

Dexter cattle are free-range and thrive on low-quality pastures, making them a hardy and adaptable breed.

But what makes Dexter beef so special?

In this article, we’ll explore the unique characteristics of Dexter beef and why it’s becoming increasingly popular among foodies and farmers alike.

So, grab a seat and get ready to learn about the delicious world of Dexter beef!

What Is Dexter Beef?

Dexter beef is a type of beef that comes from the Dexter breed of cattle. These cattle are some of the smallest in the world, standing at only 40 inches tall and weighing between 700-900 lbs.

What sets Dexter beef apart from other types of beef is its lean meat and natural tenderness. This is due to the fact that Dexters are a smaller breed, which means they have less marbling in their meat. However, this doesn’t mean that their meat is tough or lacking in flavor.

In fact, Dexter beef is known for its delicious taste and is highly sought after by foodies and chefs alike. It has a rich, beefy flavor that is often described as being more intense than other types of beef.

The History And Origin Of Dexter Cattle

Dexter cattle have a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 18th century in Ireland. They were originally known as the “poorman’s cow” and were kept by small landholders in the south and southwestern parts of Ireland. The breed is descended from the predominately black cattle of the early Celts, and it is believed that they were developed from the Kerry breed, a dairy breed in Ireland.

The origin of the Dexter breed is somewhat obscure, but it is commonly believed that a “Mr. Dexter,” who was agent to Lord Hawarden, played a significant role in developing this Irish breed. According to David Low’s report on Irish cattle written in 1845, Mr. Dexter produced his curious breed by selecting the best of the hardy mountain cattle of the area and succeeded to a very high degree. This report also noted that the Dexter breed owes its modern appearance, name, and probably qualities to Mr. Dexter.

Dexters became popular show cattle for English gentry at the turn of the 20th century. However, their numbers declined throughout the 20th century, and they were designated as rare and endangered in the 1970s. In recent years, their attractiveness to small landholders has seen a significant increase in their numbers globally. As a result, the Dexter is now considered one of the best examples of a domestic cattle breed saved from extinction.

The Dexter’s extensive history and unique characteristics make them a truly special breed of cattle. They are known for their hardiness, adaptability to different climates, and dual-purpose nature, being raised for both milk and meat. Their small size also makes them ideal for small landholders who want to raise their own livestock for food. Overall, Dexter beef is a delicious and unique type of beef that is sure to impress any food lover.

The Characteristics Of Dexter Beef

The characteristics of Dexter beef are unique and highly desirable. Due to the breed’s smaller size, the meat has a higher meat-to-bone ratio, resulting in a higher percentage of lean, tender meat. Dexter beef is also known for its excellent marbling, which contributes to its rich flavor and juiciness.

Another characteristic of Dexter beef is its adaptability to different cooking methods. Whether it’s grilled, roasted, or braised, Dexter beef retains its tenderness and flavor. The meat is also versatile enough to be used in a variety of dishes, from burgers to stews.

Dexter cattle are known for their hardiness and ability to thrive on low-quality pastures. This translates into the quality of their beef, which is free from hormones and antibiotics often found in conventionally raised cattle. Dexter beef is also considered to be a sustainable choice due to the breed’s smaller size and lower environmental impact.

The Health Benefits Of Eating Dexter Beef

Aside from its great taste, Dexter beef also offers a range of health benefits that make it a healthier choice compared to other types of beef.

Firstly, Dexter beef is a lean meat that is naturally lower in saturated fat. This makes it an excellent choice for those who are watching their weight or cholesterol levels. Additionally, it is high in protein and iron, which are essential nutrients for our bodies.

Another benefit of Dexter beef is its high levels of CLAs, Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9. These fatty acids are known to be beneficial to human health and are often found in grass-fed beef. Since Dexter cattle are grass-fed, their meat contains abundant levels of these fatty acids.

Moreover, grass-fed beef like Dexter beef is rich in Vitamin A and E, which help strengthen the immune system and maintain healthy skin and eyes. Studies suggest that Vitamin E is up to four times higher in grass-fed meat than grain-fed meat.

Lastly, since Dexter cattle are smaller in size compared to other breeds, they require less space and feed to raise. This means that they are often raised more sustainably and with fewer inputs than larger breeds. This makes Dexter beef an eco-friendly choice for those who want to support sustainable farming practices.

How To Cook And Enjoy Dexter Beef

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some locally reared Dexter beef, there are a variety of ways to cook and enjoy this delicious meat.

One popular way to prepare Dexter beef is by roasting it with a crunchy herb-flavored breadcrumb crust. To do this, mix together fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs, fennel seeds, thyme, olive oil, and milk, and spread the mixture on top of a trimmed and rolled beef topside that has been coated with wholegrain mustard. Roast the beef for about 1 ¾ to 2 hours, depending on your desired level of doneness. Serve with roasted celeriac, sweet potatoes, carrots, shallots, and a rich gravy made from the pan drippings.

Another great way to enjoy Dexter beef is by grilling or pan-frying it as a steak. Rub the beef steaks with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper before cooking them to your desired level of doneness. Remember to let the steak rest for a few minutes after cooking to ensure that it stays juicy and tender.

For those who prefer a more hands-off approach to cooking, you can also make a delicious beef stew using Dexter beef. Brown the meat in a pressure cooker before adding vegetables and cooking for an additional 10 minutes. Thicken the resulting liquid and serve with crusty bread for a hearty and satisfying meal.

No matter how you choose to prepare it, Dexter beef is sure to be a hit at your next meal. Its unique flavor and tenderness make it a standout choice for any dish.

Where To Find Dexter Beef And Support Sustainable Farming Practices.

If you’re interested in trying Dexter beef and supporting sustainable farming practices, there are a few farms that specialize in raising these heritage cattle.

Blarney Heights Farm in Northwestern Montana is one such farm. They focus on ethically raising Dexter cattle while also improving the health and diversity of the land they call home. They work closely with the Montana Natural Resource Conservation Service to ensure their management techniques are consistent with sustainable land stewardship practices.

Crest Point Farms in Grass Valley, California is another farm that raises Dexter cattle using regenerative agriculture practices. They are USDA and California Certified Organic and raise their cattle on a self-sustaining solar-powered system that eliminates carbon pollution from the air.

If you’re located in the Mid-Willamette Valley area of Oregon, you can also check out a small-scale, family-owned farm that raises Dexter beef cattle using sustainable practices. They use rotational grazing and avoid over-grazing, while also using natural pest control methods.

You can typically find Dexter beef at farmers markets, local co-ops, and specialty meat shops. You can also reach out to these farms directly to inquire about purchasing their beef. By choosing to support these sustainable farming practices, you can feel good about the quality of the meat you’re consuming while also supporting environmentally-friendly agriculture.