Food & Drink

4 must-try cheaper cuts of meat

When it comes to meat, we all tend to strive for the best quality that we can afford. Unfortunately, some of the most tender and succulent cuts can be pricey to buy. There is no need to worry. If you are shopping on a budget, you can enjoy some delicious cuts of cheaper, great tasting meat. Here are four cuts of meat that you must try.

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4 must-try cheaper cuts of meat
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Meat can vary in price substantially depending on both the type and the cut of the meat. This is all down to the cost of rearing, raising, and processing the meat.  Another factor affecting the price is how scarce it is and how tender those parts of the animal are. For example, when looking at beef, sirloin and rib-eye steaks are the most sought after and cost the most. These cuts of meat come from the highest parts of the animal and don't get as much exercise, which makes them a more tender cut of beef.

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The cheaper cuts often end up coming from parts of the animal that are not quite so tender. This can make them a little more challenging to cook. There is no need to worry; it isn't impossible to make cheaper cuts taste great. If you choose slow cooking methods or barbecue them, the meat can become just as tender and delicious as any part of the animal.

Here are four cuts of meat that are inexpensive to buy and make delicious meals the whole family can enjoy.

Beef brisket

The brisket is from the lower chest area of the cow. You should expect to pay around £5 to £6 for a 700-gram cut. This is a cut of beef that is often thought of as tough or difficult to cook. This is because it comes from an area of the cow that carries much of the animal's weight. These muscles get a lot of exercise and work hard, which makes them a little tougher.

The best thing about brisket is that it is easy to cook and tenderise. When you buy brisket, try and get a cut that includes the fat cap. This helps the beef during the cooking process by keeping it from drying out. This is essential if you plan on slow cooking the brisket until it is tender and soft.

Cooking your brisket is surprisingly simple.  You can make a delicious pot roast where the brisket is slow cooked to ensure all the flavours develop and it becomes tender to eat. This Brisket Pot Roast recipe from BBC Good Food is easy and tasty. It will turn your brisket into a healthy meal to serve for a Sunday lunch on a budget.

Lamb shoulder

Lamb, along with beef, is one of the most expensive meats you can buy.  It's costly for a simple reason: there is less meat available per lamb. This means that the cost of available meat must be offset by how much it costs the farmer to breed, raise and process the lamb.

The most expensive and sought-after parts of the lamb are the chops, legs, or the rack - the area along the spine and ribs. This still leaves a lot of lamb leftover that you can get much cheaper. One of these is lamb shoulder, which is considerably more affordable than the leg. A quick look at the leading supermarkets shows you can expect to pay between £7 and £11 per kilogram of lamb shoulder.

As with many cheaper cuts of meat, the best method for cooking is slow cooking. This ensures the meat becomes tender and moist. You could pop it into a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, but the most popular method is to slow roast it with your veggies for a beautiful roast lamb dinner. Take a look at this video from Waitrose for an easy way of cooking a lamb shoulder.

Pork belly

Pork is, in general, cheaper than most other meats, so you are spoilt for choice when it comes to which cut to buy. If you are on a budget, avoid the tenderloin, which is the most expensive part of the pig and opt for pork belly, ribs, or chump.  Pork belly is one of the most tender and succulent cuts of pork you can eat as long as you cook it well. In the past, this part of the pig would often end up ground down into minced pork.

When you want to buy pork belly, you are looking for a joint that is as fresh as possible. You also want meat with a good layer of fat that is creamy in colour rather than yellowing. This fat sits between layers of meat, and the best pork belly has an even distribution of meat between even layers of fat.  This may seem like a lot of fat, but this gives the pork belly its moist texture and delicious flavour.

The best way to cook pork belly is slow cooking, allowing the fat to melt into the meat and add that delicious flavour. If you slow roast pork belly, you also get a delicious crispy layer of fat on the top. This isn't quite like crackling, but it has a wonderfully crisp texture that is pleasant to eat. Take a look at this recipe from BBC food for a delicious honeyed slow roasted pork belly. Try braising or stewing if you want something a little different. These will end up with the meat chewy rather than tender and soft, but still taste delicious.

Minced turkey

At Christmas, when everyone fills their freezers with turkey and all the trimmings for Christmas dinner, turkey is usually expensive. During the rest of the year, turkey is relatively cheap, especially if you go for minced turkey.

Minced turkey tends to be lower in fat than red meats such as beef or lamb. According to Healthline, minced turkey has less saturated fat and equivalent or higher protein content than minced beef. This is great if you are watching your waistline or aiming for a healthy low-fat diet.

When it comes to cooking with minced turkey, the options are endless. You can substitute minced turkey in any recipe that would usually call for minced beef or lamb. Make yourself cottage pies with a difference or a healthy turkey bolognese such as this turkey bolognese pasta bake.  You could also make yourself some delicious homemade turkey burgers, such as this recipe for spiced turkey burgers.

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