Supporting Unpopular Cuts of Meat
OK, so calling them ‘unpopular’ cuts of meat probably isn’t the best PR in the world.
Let’s create an exciting new meat movement that rebrands all those poor, unfashionable cuts of meat and turns them into the meat of the moment!
How about calling them ‘The kings of slow food’ or the ‘return of the family dinner’? We really should support the cuts of meat that haven’t got the best reputation (yet – we’re working on it) because they can often be the tastiest and the cheapest.
Try Something DifferentIt is all too easy to sling some chicken breasts or a piece of fillet steak into your trolley when you dash around the supermarket, but have you stopped to think about the cost of these items and what other meat you could buy instead?
Although chicken breasts always seem to be on special offer (so cost isn’t a big issue here), they don’t really offer you much in the way of flavour and, let’s face it, they’re pretty boring. And while fillet steak can be wonderfully tender, the flavour isn’t a patch on cheaper cuts of beef and can cost ten times as much.
Use Your ButcherThe best place to start to find out about the delights of less popular cuts of meat is your local butcher. If you have a jolly local butcher with a blue and white stripped apron and plenty of time to chat about slow roasting, you would be crazy not to use him to his full advantage. Unfortunately, not many of us have this wonderful resource.
The next best thing is a miserable local butcher who may run a ‘chain’ butchers shop. They are still worth a visit and can usually advise you, as long as you don’t go in on a Saturday morning expecting superior service.
The last best option is to use the meat counter at your local supermarket. These can vary wildly, so you may be lucky and have a good one. They may be able to get you decent cuts of meat and advise you on how to make the most of them. They may also be run by students that wipe their nose on their apron and don’t know their knuckle from their trotter.
Here are some ideas for making the most of, what will be after our campaign, meat heroes! Remember that a slow cooker is your friend when cooking such cuts as they need long, slow cooking to make the most of them and get them nice and tender. You can also cook these cuts in a medium to low oven for hours (sometimes up to twenty four hours) or in a casserole for a few hours.
Meat Hero Recipes:
Belly PorkThis cut is slowly gaining popularity as Asian cuisine filters through into every day home cooking, but it still remains a cheap cut. You get a fatty piece of pork with meat underneath. It lends itself perfectly to roasting and braising. With roasting, you end up with crispy crackling and with braising the fat goes more gelatinous. This unctuous fat is quite an acquired taste, but once you have acquired it you will love it!
Asian flavours work particularly well – try rubbing the scored fat with five spice, salt and pepper then roasting it on a trivet with honey, rice wine and star anise in the pan. Baste the meat regularly with the sauce and reduce it to make a sauce at the end – delicious with white rice and some steamed greens.
Beef SkirtBeef skirt is an old fashioned cut of meat that is traditionally used in casseroles and Cornish pasties. It is very cheap and, as long as you trim it carefully, not too fatty. It works really well in slow cooked dishes like goulash.
Try dusting cubes beef skirt in seasoned flour and then quickly browning it in some oil. Add a bay leaf, plenty of good beef stock, tomato chutney and a couple of teaspoons of paprika. Cook in a heavy based pan with the lid on for ages. After a couple of hours, make some creamy mash potato, cook some peas and thicken your goulash with a little slackened cornflour. Delicious!