What cost-effective cuts of meat should I buy?
“A lot of the meat price increases we’ve seen in the last eight months have gone to the cheaper end of the market,” says Ian Warren, of family-run Philip Warren Butchers in Cornwall. This does not mean that you cannot save money on meat. It’s just a case of what’s less spent, rather than actually being cheap. For example, Warren suggests “A nice cut of pork. Yes, it may have seen the biggest rise, but it’s still cheaper than beef.”
In terms of cuts, chef Henry Harris, who opens his new Boucon Racine at Three Compasses in Farringdon, London, next week, suggests trying the front quarter, or “the cut toward the shoulder and higher near the neck.” It’s great in casseroles with solid herbs (sage, rosemary, and thyme), apple cider and pig’s hocks, which, he says, ” Always Cheap, and adds a lovely richness.”
Then you get kidneys, heart and liver, but it’s divisive: “People often say they don’t like their offal—until they try,” says Jonathan Woolloway, chef at St. John’s in London, who has opened a new location in Marylebone. If you want to give them a shot, Harris suggests sautéing onions and garlic with plenty of black pepper and some herbs, mixing with minced pork, finely chopped liver and kidneys, and breadcrumbs, then combining it with eggs. Roll them into balls, put them on top of some sautéed onions spread on a buttered roasting pan, season and bake: “It’s like a pretty crunchy peasant meatloaf.” If that seems a step too far, Woolloway suggests picking up pig’s cheeks and seasoning them slowly and slowly, because they’re “easy to get to.” Have some broth on hand, chunky vegetables, and a little wine—nice, but not essential—and serve that with a point of mash. “.
There is value to be found in pregnancy breasts, too. Harris mixes “breadcrumbs, herbs, sautéed onions and garlic with black pepper, maybe cayenne pepper and lemon zest,” then spreads that inside a boneless lamb breast. Gently roll and grill until tender.
Meanwhile, Lerato Umah-Shaylor prefers lamb neck on the bone, which is “great” with leg of lamb in “Celebration Lamb, otherwise known as mrouzia In Morocco – a tagine, if you will.” The author of Africana browns the meat (marinated with ras el hanout, turmeric, salt, and pepper), adds onions, garlic, ginger, broth, and North African spices, and cooks for three hours until the sauce is “rich, thick, and the meat falls off the bone,” It’s then stir-fried with dried raisins, apricots and honey at the end.”I’m often sold diced neck of lamb, which is great for stews, or neck fillet, which is best cooked short and sharp, and is great in salads, wraps, and stir-fries.”
Poultry prices have also gone up, “mostly because of feed costs,” Warren says, but chicken thighs still make for a “simple and affordable” dinner. Instead, use the whole bird: “Roast a chicken, use lots of veggies, and maybe a pasta gratin, too. Everyone can then get a good portion, but don’t give seconds,” advises Harris. “Rip it all off the corpse” and turn whatever’s left into soups, stews, pies, and salads. “I mix Brussels sprouts, scallions, cayenne pepper, ginger, and mayonnaise, then drizzle it on top of the shredded chicken. Put it all in a sandwich…delicious.”