Iron is a crucial part of a baby’s dietary requirements. They need iron so that their brains develop normally, and not getting it can result in irreversible cognitive delays. The iron requirements for little babies—I’m talking 7-12 months—is insane. It’s 11 mg per day! To put this in perspective, males over age 19 only need 8 mg/day. Although it’s true that you can get iron from non-animal sources, a highly absorbable source is red meat. This is why W’s first food was beef.
The problem is, a baby can’t exactly tear into a piece of steak! That’s why I came up with a method for making pureed beef that is soft and flavorful. The youngest baby can eat it. Heck, you’d even like it…if you were into liquid meat:)
You’ll want to start with about a pound of cubed meat. I used cheaper cuts, like chuck, because even the toughest pieces will turn soft with this method. I used my savings to buy hormone-free beef, which is noticeably more expensive.
I also used vegetable broth, meat tenderizer, garlic and onion powders, and dried basil.
I use a slow cooker (Crock-Pot). I don’t see why you couldn’t do it in a Dutch oven in the oven on low heat, but I’ve never tried. You’ll also need a food processor to puree it.
Tenderizing the Meat
This is a crucial step, so be sure to plan ahead. I let it soak in buttermilk (actually, poor man’s buttermilk, which is milk with an added tablespoon of lemon juice) all night in the refrigerator. The lactic acid breaks down the collagen in the meat to make it soft. Cover the meat with the milk mixture in a container with a lid.
The next day, your meat mixture will look like this:
Then dump the whole container in a colander in the sink and rinse it off:
Then it’s time for the hot tub, er, slower cooker. I dumped the meat in the bottom and sprinkled on meat tenderizer, a shake of garlic and onion powder, and another shake of dried basil. I’m a big proponent of making food taste good, otherwise, I’d buy it in a jar. I also wanted to get W used to the flavors I frequently use in cooking. Feel free to add your own taste profile here and add or subtract any ingredients you don’t like. (Just be mindful of adding any additional salt since the tenderizer has salt and so does broth).
After I’ve added the meat and spices, I poured in vegetable broth until it just covered the meat.
From there, I put it on “low” and let it simmer for about seven hours. Just wait until you taste this. It’s so soft and delicious, it’s hard to not just leave it as chunks and serve it to yourself for dinner!
But if you have wherewithal, now is the time to blend it when it’s warm. Don’t dump the juices! You’ll need them. Scoop the beef into the processor and then cover it about halfway with juice from cooking. Blend it. You’ll need to eyeball how much more juice to add. How do you know? It’s a personal preference, but if you look at this picture, it’s still fibrous. I’d add a little more juice to this mix before I’d call it a day:
Serving and Storage
It’s up to you how mushy you want to make it. You have all control because you’re doing the blending. I erred on a fairly “wet” beef. Homemade baby food is soft and safe in the sense that you can make it chunk-free, so there’s no risk of choking. However, it (and other things you make in your kitchen) won’t have uniform consistency, like it was created in a factory. A subtle texture difference was something I wanted to expose W to because that’s what “real” food is like.
If your baby is highly adverse to texture, you can “cut” the beef with rice cereal and formula or breast milk to make it smoother. I did this for W, especially in the 5-7 month stage.
Finally, don’t forget to immediately freeze small portions. Enjoy!
Q: Do you make meat for you baby? Any hints or recipes to share?