Budget Cuts of Meat 101

Budget Cuts of Meat 101 - SavvyMom

Grocery prices are out of control. We’re trying to save money wherever we can. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming trying to discern what cut of meat to buy without factoring in price. However there are many affordable cuts of meat that are beautiful as long as you understand how to prepare them. Here is an overview of the tougher, budget cuts of meat and how to cook them for mouth watering dinners ideal for family and entertaining.

Which Cuts of Meat Are More Affordable?

The tougher cuts of meat come from the chuck, flank, short plate, brisket, and shank of the cow. These areas are more muscular and located at the back and bottom of the cow. Although these areas might seem less desirable, some of the finest restaurants use a slow cooking, moist method to bring out the outstanding flavour of these budget cuts of meat. The chuck area is where much of the meat is taken for ground beef. This is because there is a high fat content here. Other cuts from this area are ideal for moist cooking as they contain more muscle that must have time to cook slowly and break down. Brisket also requires slow, moist cooking to tenderize and bring out the flavour. However you can use dry heat methods for some cuts from these areas including flank and skirt steaks. These steaks can be perfect for dishes such as fajitas as well as perfect cuts for marinating. The higher fat content makes the meat ideal for more flavourful dishes.

Here are the most common budget cuts of meat:

  • Beef Brisket: Ideal for corned beef as well as a nice, slow cooked pot roast
  • Skirt Steak: Perfect for fajitas or quesadillas
  • Flank Steak: Lovely grilled and cut on the grain on its own or for sandwiches or salads. Also good for stir frys
  • Short Ribs: Beautiful stewed, marinated, or braised
  • Blade Steak or Roast: Perfect for pot roast, stewing or marinated and dry cooked for steaks
  • Cross Cut Steak or Roast: Perfect for pot roast, stewing or marinated and dry cooked for steaks
  • Flat Iron Steak: Same uses as flank or skirt steak
  • Stewing Beef: As the name implies perfect for hearty beef stews

Best Cooking Methods for Budget Cuts of Meat:

There are a number of cooking methods that will bring out the flavour of these tough cuts of meat including:

Braising: This method is best done in the oven. Meat is seared and than cooked for several hours at 325°F with a small amount of braising liquid such as stock or wine. Liquid must not cover the meat. Instead it should only come halfway up the roast.

Stewing: This method completely submerges the meat in a liquid. Meat is browned in a coating of flour and then the pan is deglazed with liquid such as stock or wine. The heat is reduced and the meat is covered and simmered for several hours.  It can be cooked in the oven or on the stove top. Bust out your Crock Pot for this Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Tenderizing: You can tenderize meat by either marinating it for several hours or pounding it with a meat tenderizer. Once this is done you can actually dry cook the meat on the grill or under the broiler as you would for a finer cut of meat. Marinades must have acidic content in order to tenderize such as vinegar or wine. Other ingredients that can help break down and tenderize meat include pineapple, citrus, and ginger. Never baste meat with marinade in which the meat was sitting. Instead, set some aside to brush on while you cook. Pounding will help break down the connective tissue allowing you to cook it more effectively using the dry method.

Tougher cuts of meat are not only affordable, they are ideal for creating comforting stews, roasts, and mouth watering meals that are elegant and flavourful.


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