Butcher’s block: cheap and cheerful

By easyFood

14 August 2018

Here at Easy Food, we believe in eating local, reducing waste, and trying new things. With that in mind, we spoke to local butcher Michael Fleming explains why it’s worth buying cheaper cuts of meat

Which cheap cuts of meat would you especially recommend?

There are plenty of great value cuts out there with fantastic flavour. My favourites would be corned beef, lamb shanks, turkey breast and pork shoulder.

What is particularly good to stock up on when I see it on offer?

The best things to bulk buy are the ones you know you will use time and again. Minced beef is great as it’s so versatile and forms the basis for so many family dinners. Chicken fillets might not be the best value meat on a regular day, but it’s always worth buying a few packs for the freezer when you see them at a reduced price, as we all use them so often.

What is the absolute cheapest cut I’m likely to find in a butcher’s shop, and how would you recommend cooking it?

Probably a cut on the bone, such as beef short ribs. This cut is sometimes known as Jacob’s ladder and has an amazing flavour when slow-cooked. Try braising the ribs in red wine in a low oven – they will be incredibly tender and delicious.

What decides whether a particular cut of meat is cheap or more expensive?

It’s actually nothing to do with quality. The more expensive cuts are priced that way because they’re more in demand, and this is largely because they are quick cooking and naturally tender. Cheaper cuts can be every bit as tender, however: they just need a longer cooking time and a bit more love.

In general, what are the best cooking methods for cheaper cuts?

Slow cooking, without a doubt: ‘low and slow’ all the way for these. Try braising, slow-roasting or stewing.

I’ve heard that chicken thighs are cheaper than fillets, but how should I cook them?

Chicken thighs can simply be roasted, but I think they are at their best in dishes like casseroles and curries. They have a flavour far superior to that of chicken fillets.

Is there a less costly alternative to sirloin steak, for using in stir-fries?

Absolutely. Ask your butcher for flank steak, bavette steak or rump steak.

I recently picked up a stuffed lap of lamb, cut into rounds, because it looked like great value. Now it’s in my freezer and I have no idea what to do with it! What would you recommend?

I would definitely roast it, but slowly, in a low oven. This will make a really great roast dinner something a bit different and full of flavour. If it’s more convenient, you can cook this cut from frozen.