Cheaper cuts of meat are on trend and come out perfectly when cooked in the right way. So which alternative cuts are everyone talking about? The best restaurants have embraced old-fashioned cuts of meat, such as shoulder, neck and shin, which cost less than fast-cook fillets and sirloins, but still deliver glorious flavour… And it’s a trend that you can easily recreate at home.
The key is in understanding that the meat is taken from areas of the animal’s anatomy that work harder, hence they contain more sinew and therefore require longer cooking. But any old cheap cut of meat will not do. In woman&home’s test kitchen, we did a side-by-side test of a recipe using stewing steak. We bought a standard pack of meat in chunks and meat from one of our favourite butchers. There was hardly any difference in price and we cooked the exact same recipe, same method, same cooking time. No surprise to us, but the butcher’s meat version turned out darker in colour and richer in flavour.
If you no longer have a good local butcher, it’s worth buying online or travelling a bit further and buying more and freezing it.
Cheaper cuts such as shin and shoulder will be fattier, so it’s a good idea to cook them in advance then chilling, which makes it easier to spoon off the fat before reheating. They will always taste better if cooked the day before serving, giving the flavours time to develop. Here’s your guide to cheaper cuts of meat and how to cook each one.
Silverside and topside are perfect for roasting rare such as in this Parma ham-wrapped roast beef topside, or use for pot roasts.
Beef brisket is gorgeous in a pot roast beef brisket with tomatoes.
Shin works well slow cooked in a casserole, such as this spiced beef casserole.
Pork belly is wonderful slow cooked like this slow roasted pork belly with garlic and sage. The crackling is gorgeous!
The collar or neck end is often made into mince, but also used in casserole recipes.
Pork shoulder works best slow cooked or in a casserole like this Normandy pork casserole, which is one of our most popular recipes.
Lamb neck is great for slow cooking and casseroling, as in this Middle Eastern spiced lamb recipe.
Lamb shanks need slow cooking, but come out beautifully tender; try this braised lamb shanks recipe. Scrag end is usually made into mince.
Lamb breast is usually boned, rolled and slow roasted, or trimmed and used for kebabs, or minced.