Nothing wrong with cheap meat. When it comes to meat cuts some are cheaper than others. That is just a fact. It doesn’t mean the cheaper cuts are of poorer quality. The reason they are cheaper is because they are not so straightforward to cook as their more expensive counterparts are. That all!
In the world of meat cookery, as I have explained in my book titled Your Meat Mate as well as in previous blogs, meat can be divided into 2 categories:
- Tough cuts
- Tender cuts
Tough cuts come from the most exercised area of the animal’s body while tender cuts from the least exercised area of the animal’s body.
The tough cuts are cheaper than the tender cuts. Sometimes up to about 1/2 the price!
Below are some examples of tough and tender cuts
|Tender cuts||Tough cuts|
|Tenderloin (eye fillet)||Chuck|
|Sirloin (New York – if cut into steaks)||Shank|
|T-bone steaks||Osso Bucco|
The tender cuts, if cut into steaks, area quick to cook. Apply dry heat cooking methods – grilling and pan frying. If whole, then roast.
To achieve the best value possible from the tough cuts, they need to be cooked in the oven on a low heat for a long time, in a liquid and covered. The cookery method is known as braising.
As explained in Your Meat Mate the results are absolutely terrific! As a matter of a fact they are so good that I wonder why you would want to buy the expensive tender cuts!
Sure, you have to give it a good 8 hours or more in the oven but as long as you are organised you can then have the meal a day and/or days ahead. It is definitely worth the wait.
You see, tough cuts are naturally more flavoursome. The more exercised the cut of meat the more flavoursome the cut. Not only that, because they are more exercised, they are leaner (than the tender cuts) so they are healthier.
During the long, slow and moist cooking process the connective tissue (which is naturally present in these tough cuts) breaks down. This breaking down of the connective tissue process creates gelatine which disperses into the meat and into the sauce. The gelatine adds so much taste and depth to the meal as a whole and, in doing so, the meat, that was so tough to start with, ends up being so moist (from the sauce) and tender – in some cases, more tender than the tender cuts when cooked.
The end result is a wholesome and naturally flavourful meat dish that can literally run circles around an expensive tender cut (that can be up to double the price of the cheaper cut) with regard to taste, budget and nutrition.
Your Meat Mate covers braising in a lot of detail and gives you invaluable and easy techniques to make your braised dishes even better than restaurant quality!
Cheaper meat just needs more tender loving care. So, for half the price, and oven time (when there is no work on your part) why not pick up the tougher cuts?
For more information on red meat cooking, visit https://philbysfinefoods.com.au/blog/