How many of us go to the same shop and buy the exact same cuts of meat week in and week out? We all tend to stick to our favourites, especially as you can pick them up neatly packaged from your local supermarket.
However, not trying more unusual meat cuts can mean you’re missing out on some really flavourful dishes, not to mention cheaper options. There are a lot more cuts to choose from than those usually available from supermarket shelves, so why not head to your butcher and broaden your meaty horizon?
Here are a few cuts of meat that can be incredibly delicious and that you should try as soon as possible, if you haven’t already:
If you love a good rare or medium-rare steak then this is the cut for you – especially as it tends to be a lot cheaper than better-known options. It’s found right above the heel inside the campanella, which – incidentally – is a great meat for slow roasting.
The merlot steak is ideal for cooking really quickly at a high heat, so make sure you get your pan as hot as possible before cooking it for a couple of minutes on either side. This will keep it wonderfully tender and ensure it retains its flavour. Then you just need to serve it up with your favourite steak trimmings.
Pork skirt steak
As the name might suggest, this cut is fairly close to the beef skirt steak, both in where it is located and how you cook it. It’s located close to the belly, which is often seen as a more prime cut and offers a lean choice that is incredibly tasty and easy to prepare.
You might think that the lack of fat means this cut doesn’t have a lot of flavour, but it is packed full of great taste and can be used in a huge range of dishes. Literally just season it and cook it on a high heat for a couple of minutes on either side and it’s done. Use this instead of other pork cuts for things like tacos and Chinese dishes to save yourself some pennies.
The name of this cut may not seem that unusual, but very few people actually make the most of lamb shoulder. This cut of meat is really underused, but it is also incredibly tasty – it is less gamey than other bits of lamb – and can be used in loads of different ways.
Because the meat in this cut also contains a lot of connective tissue and fat, slow cooking is your best bet in order to allow everything to soften, resulting in wonderfully tender meat. Your best options are slow roasting and braising, although you can speed up the process a little bit by using a pressure cooker instead.
Also known as beef shin, this cut of meat doesn’t get nearly enough appreciation, probably because it’s a pretty tough option. As it is located in the leg, the muscle gets worked pretty hard, which means that it tends to need a lot of cooking to ensure it is soft enough to melt in the mouth.
However, because not many people use this cut of beef, it tends to be a much more inexpensive option, especially if you’re making stews or curries that need hours of cooking. Give it as long as you can to cook and ensure it is covered in plenty of juices – it will absorb any flavour you add so don’t be afraid of seasoning it.
You can also slow roast it, which is great if you also want to eat the bone marrow, which will soften during cooking and adds a lot of flavour to any dish.
Roast shoulder of lamb with baked vegetables
They may not look like the most appetising cuts of meat, but pork trotters can be used in so many ways and are definitely a friend to your wallet. Pork trotters have some practical applications when it comes to cooking, such as helping to thicken soups and stews due to the amount of cartilage they contain.
However, they can also be cooked using a whole host of methods – including roasting, smoking, stewed, grilled, poached and deep-fried – so there is a lot you can do with them. It’s definitely worth getting a butcher’s recommendation for trotters to help you gain confidence when it comes to using them.
Lamb sirloin roast
We all know that a lamb leg is great for roasting, especially as it ends up looking as good as it tastes, however, these can be on the pricey side. On top of the expense, lamb legs are better suited to cooking for a lot of people, which is why the lamb sirloin roast is the ideal alternative.
This cut comes from the top of the hind leg, so it is still as tender as the whole leg cut would be. It is much smaller than a full leg but packs just as much flavour, especially if you slow roast it in the same way as you would the leg.
You can get the lamb sirloin roast trussed up and ready to go from the butcher. While it may not look quite as impressive, it is definitely a cut of meat you’ll want to eat again.