You’re Wasting Your Money if You Throw Out These 10 Cuts of Meat
Instead of tossing all those mystery meat parts that aren’t specifically in your recipe, save some money and cook them up. These are the parts to save and savour.
You may have heard tips for buying the perfect turkey. Once you’ve got that nice bird, make sure to keep the tail. It can be slow-roasted or slowly simmered in a broth until the meat pulls away from the bone. “Roasted turkey tail is kind of a secret little snack that I like to steal as I’m carving a turkey,” says Chef Ryan Farr of San Francisco’s 4505 Burgers and BBQ, Zagat’s Hottest Barbecue Joint in America, as seen on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and Food Network’s Best. Ever. “It’s actually my favourite part of the turkey that would otherwise be discarded.”
Lamb shanks have a rich flavour even though they are not very large. “I love the classic French technique of braising with red wine and mirepoix, which makes for a deliciously hearty winter dish,” says Farr, who has honed his artisanal and sustainable butchery techniques over the years. A mirepoix is a mix of diced vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onion, cooked gently for a long time to make a savoury base for a dish.
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If you like to make sausages or stews, try using lamb neck. “This cut is comprised of a few small muscles with great texture surrounded by hard fat,” says Farr. “The fat is incredibly flavourful and absorbs the seasonings that you pair it with instead of melting away like pork fat would.”
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Like pork belly, lamb belly contains a lot of flavourful fat, but most people just don’t realize what they can do with it. You can use lamb belly as a replacement for pork belly. “I like to take the whole belly and roll it up like pancetta, which can then be grilled whole or cut crosswise to make medallions and roasted or grilled until tender,” says Farr.
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Pork Trotters (Pig’s Feet)
Pork trotters are another great option for sausage, and if you’re feeling fancy, they also make a great terrine. “All you need to do is salt them for a few days, and then braise them,” says Farr. “Once they are cooled to room temperature, the cooked skin and meat can be pulled off and put into your recipe. From there, you could also cool and dry the braised meat, then deep fry for tacos.”
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Farr suggests frying the pork skins to make pork rinds, also known as chicharrones. “Though the process of deep-frying pork skin is somewhat time-consuming, once you perfect your recipe, the resulting crispy clouds of pork are delicious and packed with protein,” says Farr.
This piece of meat comes from the cheeks of a pig, and it is similar to bacon in terms of texture and flavour when cured and smoked. “One of my favourite pairings is roast pork jowl and steamed clams,” says Farr. “When roasted over high heat, the fat renders out and the skin gets crispy. The fat is a perfect complement to the acidic flavour you get when you steam clams with white wine.”
Many people get afraid of beef tongue, but this piece of meat has a good texture and nice marbling. “As long as it’s cooked long enough, it can be a very tender and delicate cut of meat,” says Farr. “Instead of tossing the tongue, I like to make beef tongue pastrami by curing the tongue and then smoking it.”
“Beef tendon is a delicious and rich part of the animal that has a meaty depth of flavour on its own, and really shines with just a few simple seasonings,” says Farr. “Stew beef tendon to use in stews or Asian soups like Phô. It takes a few hours, but thanks to its rich flavour, you don’t need a lot of it.”
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Don’t discard the oxtail, as it is full of body and flavour, thanks to its meat-to-fat ratio. “Braise oxtail and serve over polenta for a rich main dish,” says Farr. “Whenever you can cook and serve meat on the bone, you’re going to get maximum flavor out of the meat.”