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Cheap yet good cuts of meat

A post in another thread got me thinking. It basically said that they were served cheap cuts of chicken meaning dark meat. So while this would be true in the USA it would not be true in many other parts of the world. The price of the cut is not always indicative of superior quality it merely reflects the popularity of the cut and the demand for it. This works out for me quite well as I prefer dark meat to white.

So my question is this, what other cuts do people like that are relatively cheap compared with other parts of the animal yet provide maximum flavour. For example liver is always cheap but it makes for a good meal if cooked properly. Skirt steak used to be cheap before the fajita craze hit in the mid 1980s. Short ribs done right blow a filet mignon out of the water taste wise and are a fraction of the cost.

I don't want to limit this to just cuts of the animal but animals themselves. For example sometimes medium sized shrimp have a better texture and taste compared to their larger cousins yet are cheaper per pound.

While there are some things that I feel are really good and justify the cost there are other times where the cheaper alternative may be better. What out there am I missing?

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  1. Hanger Steak, Top Blade , Top Butt Sirloin, Tri-Tip and Flap Meats are all excellent options for beef cuts. For fish, I would recommend whiting and mackeral which are both readily available in the Northeast.....but the king of value for seafood has to be squid.

    Day in and day out though, pork cuts, in my opinion, are always the most flavorful value protein for my money.

    13 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Hanger steak and flap meat are tasty and cheap, but only available to restaurants at least where I live.

      Bone-in dark chicken meat is really cheap. I like blade steak for stir fries.

      Flank steak and chicken wings used to be cheap, but they've since been "discovered". Since we're pretty much restricted to chain grocery stores in the Detroit-area, that doesn't leave us with much.

      1. re: cholderby


        Do you have any friends who are in food business of any kind? If so, you can easily gain access to the Restaurant Depot.

        Hanger was $1.99, Top Blade/Flat Iron was $2.39 and Flap was $2.99 last week at my local RD.


        1. re: fourunder

          I got hanger steak at Whole Foods once, but of course it was a lot more than $1.99. Flat Iron I find at my regular grocery quite often, but at $4.99. Sometimes cryovaced in 4z portions, and sometimes they cut it to order for me.

      2. re: fourunder

        Mmm, I love mackerel!.I also love blue fish, a sentiment that luckily no one else seems to share, since it's still relatively inexpensive where I am. I love the unabashed flavor, the meaty, assertive texture, the pristine freshness at the market, since it's caught locally. Also, the oils cause the skin to crisp up so nicely when you grill it.

        Re: meat cuts, everything honestly seems expensive nowadays in NYC. (I caught the tail end of the era when marrow bones, ox tails and chicken wings were actually affordable.) I've really, really been trying to cut back on meat consumption because of prices and for principled reasons. The same rationale has fueled my obsession with eating, or trying to eat, offal. Chicken hearts / gizzards / livers, grilled yakitori style or braised in soy sauce, five spice, ginger and sugar are lovely, especially served over fresh, hot rice, and very inexpensive. I like pig's feet when other people make it. I'm going to attempt my friend's mom's Cantonese braised beef tongue recipe this weekend.

        1. re: cimui

          Where have you found cheap beef tongue? I do love tongue, but haven't found it affordable in a very long time.

          1. re: JungMann

            It appears that I couldn't find inexpensive beef tongue, either. So I used pork tongue from Hong Kong Supermarket, instead. Still tasty.

            Is pork tongue what the taco trucks use in lengua tacos, do you know?

            1. re: cimui

              I am pretty sure they use beef tongue, but I can't be certain. I don't know that I've ever had pork tongue before.

            2. re: cimui

              People don't like bluefish because its never quite fresh enough in the market, or its been caught in the wrong place. I have converted many people to bluefish by making them fresh caught fish...a fresh caught bluefish is delicious, even the very largest (in fact, I like those best). However, they are dependent on what they are eating and where they are caught. Most of my bluefish are caught on the North Fork of LI...and even 12 pounders are mild and tasty. Once I caught a bunch of small blues from Jamaica Bay...and as fresh as they were, they tasted like cat food.

              1. re: EricMM

                People don't like bluefish fresh, either, IME, due to the oiliness, especially if they get a taste of the dark bits, whether it's fresh or not. Hey, just more for you and me, right? :-)

                Another taste issue is pollutants which can really mess with taste, but I haven't had this problem with blues from Montauk.

                I love bluefish, which my mom always soaked in milk prior to cooking; this really cuts the oiliness due to lactic acid in the milk. I don't always soak it, but I do tend to cook it with lemon, tomato, acid type stuff to cut down on the oiliness.

                1. re: mcf

                  I've heard about the milk thing...haven't tried it yet. I like to take a big fillet, leave the scales on, and just slap it directly on the grill with a light coating of mayo/dijon mustard/cracked pepper. Its done in a few minutes. The white meat lifts right off, leaving the skin and dark meat behind. When I cook bluefish indoors, I always skin it....usually do a breadcrumb "oreganata" type topping with garlic and capers.

                  1. re: EricMM

                    A former Montauk boat captain told me he made bluefish parmesan with filets.
                    The milk thing really does sweeten it up. My aunt used to steam it with white wine, too. Anything to cut the oiliness. If it's fresh and unpolluted, I like it just fine with some lemon, butter s and p. I've also wrapped in foil or parchment with sliced lemon, tomato, garlic, herbs, s and p.

            3. re: fourunder

              Squid used to be $1.49/# back around 1980 - once it became "calamari" it pretty quickly doubled in price.

              In the Boston area, top round was on sale for $1.99 last week. These days most people use it for roast beef but I made a very slowly cooked pot roast with it and because there is so little fat, there was hardly any shrinkage and the meat did become fork tender.

            4. I love to make stew or a pot roast (or oven-braise) a big old clod of chuck "roast." Chuck, if there's sufficient marbling present, cooks up very, very tasty.

              I'm at a loss for a suggestion for a cut of meat that's best prepared "medium rare," however.

              Fresh hams and other pork roasts, as noted above, give a lot of meaty bang for the buck.

              Chicken thighs, if the skin's seasoned and their cooked properly, can be a gourmet treat whether roasted or pan-roasted. I bone, skin and cut thighs into 1" cubes and cook the cubes in a recipe for escargot butter I have. They're absolutely delicious!

              5 Replies
              1. re: shaogo


                Take any of the beef cuts I mentioned above including the chuck roast........ and slow roast them on a wire rack @ 225* for 2-2.5 hours, depending on the size/thickness of the meat(longer naturally for thicker cuts). It will be medium rare temperature and tender. Last week my local supermarket had the chuck roast for $1.79/lb. It was a great piece of meat for less than $3. Try it....you may be pleasantly surprised.


                btw, I slow roast my Prime Ribs as well @ 225*....actually, I slow roast almost all my meats except chicken.

                1. re: fourunder

                  Besides slow low roasting the meat, remember to pre-salt the meat 24 hours or more before cooking -- this helps to break down enzymes in the meat and will tenderize it. America's Test Kitchen recently did a show that featured slow roasting an Eye of Round Roast.

                  1. re: Norm Man

                    I made this last Sunday using that recipe which was featured in Cook's Illustrated magazine a couple years ago. It was absolutely delicious. My husband couldn't stop raving about it. We had the leftovers for sandwiches the next night, too. Best of all, I got the roast on sale for $2.99 a pound!

                    1. re: Kiyah

                      This is the most wonderful technique I've found in ages. The article said that the original was slow-roasted at about 170 or so (have I got that right?), but that took 5 - 18 hours. I used the CI recipe, but did lower the heat considerably, until the internal temp. was perfect. I will never buy beef tenderloin again.

                2. re: shaogo

                  >I'm at a loss for a suggestion for a cut of meat that's best prepared "medium rare," however.

                  Eye of Round - I can usually get it in the 4-6 lb. range, in a cryopack, from my local grocer for under $3/lb. Using Cook's Illustrated's slow cook roast recipe, prepares to a perfect, tender and flavorful medium rare roast!

                3. Bavette is my ultimate fav. You can get a huge piece for $9 and it feeds about 3-4 people. i marinate it in olive oil, balsamic, garlic and rosemary than cut into cubes and feed onto rosemary branches before grilling. if you can get dried figs, put them on the skewer as well! great way to make meat stretch and feed a crowd without breaking the bank.

                  Duck breasts are another great option because for $5 you can get a breast large enough to feed 2 people. not to mention that serving seared duck is oooh-so good. i did it last night for a friend and they were completely surprised!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: thehotplate


                    Your idea of Bavette........is it Flank Steak or Flap Meat?

                    1. re: fourunder

                      ooh sorry it's flank, but generally cut a bit thicker (haha just too used to quebec)

                      1. re: thehotplate

                        We can get bavette here in the East SF Bay, and it's still cheaper than most other steaks. The trouble is that the only place I've found that carries it is a very expensive meat market (although fabulous) attached to Cafe Rouge on 4th Street (the tourist upscale shopping district in Berkeley). I haven't been for a while, but it used to be affordable.

                        Flank steak is way higher than it used to be as is skirt steak/flap meat. Sometimes I fall for flank steak at COSTCO, though.

                        I've been buying what Berkeley Bowl calls "butcher steak". It has to be carefully sliced in the manner of flank and skirt, but it's quite delicious.

                        The butcher told me that it'll never catch on here because "Americans are too stupid to know how to cut it and how good it is. In France it costs more than rib eye.) We had it for dinner tonight. Great along with the Zuni panade and a big salad.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          "Butcher steak" is Hangar steak...

                          I buy it at BB as well. However if the butcher told you that "Onglet" (Hangar) costs more than "Cote de Bouef (rib eye) he is full of it.

                          Lets just hope that the rest of the US stays ignorant. In the 70's tri tip was cheaper than hamburger. We don't want the price of Hangar to go through the roof.

                    2. re: thehotplate

                      Duck Legs...the Asian markets near me sell them for about $2.39/lb....I fake "Peking Duck" by glazing them with soy sauce/sugar/5 spice, roasting them, then shredding them and eating it rolled up in pancakes with scallion, cukes, and hoi-sin....

                      1. re: EricMM

                        WOW Eric! That sounds great. I'm going to have to get some from my local Chinese poultry seller! Thanks for the tip....not tri-tip. ;+)

                        1. re: EricMM

                          I use duck legs in this Bittman recipe for stovetop Chinese "roast" duck (I cut the brown sugar, though, or it gets too sticky). It's a great source for rendered duck fat, too, as a bargain bonus.


                      2. Oxtail is often a good (cheaper) substitute for short ribs.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I agree, but I'm still amazed at how expensive oxtail is these days as well.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Oxtails and Short Ribs are two of my favorite things to eat.......thankfully, I'm able to purchase them at wholesale prices. When I see them in the typical supermarkets in Northern New Jersey, they are rarely less than $4.99 per pound......but usually average around $5.99 per pound.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Those cuts manage to still be cheap at ethnic markets. I love oxtail, great cut.
                              I have seen cross cut(flanken) for as cheap as $1.99 at some asian markets. Good for grilling.

                              Mackerel, sardines and other oily fish are some of my top choices as well. As far as gizzards and what not go they are some of my favourite pieces of the animal as well but since it is not the healthiest to eat a half pound of it I usually wait to get it at yakitori joints.

                              I know some people in the restaurant biz, will have to give RD a shot.

                              1. re: MVNYC

                                At both the supermarket and ethnic places around here, I've seen it only for more than $10/lb when not on super-sale.

                                1. re: MVNYC

                                  To get the restaurant price (inc Rest Depot), you may have to buy 40 lbs or more.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    At the Restaurant Depot I shop at, any purchase less than a case(unit), is priced 10-20 cents higher than the case price......still less than any retail outlet.

                                2. re: MMRuth

                                  I too get a little crazed over the price of oxtail. When we were in Rio recently, I could buy it at the weekly farmers market for a fraction of what we pay here. And it's not just the difference in location. Other meats could be quite expensive. But I do love the little darlin's.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    MMR - I agree about oxtail and short ribs...they're even more expensive because there's so much heavy bone per lb. Same with lamb and veal shanks. Where did this big surge of buyers for "alternative" meats that used to be cheap come from?

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    That's good to know - short ribs are not commonly sold in the UK. In fact I've only seen them at one butchers, which is a super-expensive one in Selfridges Food Hall (swanky dept store in London). Oxtail on the other hand is easy to find in my area, as it's used a lot in Caribbean cooking as well as English cooking.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Where do I find oxtail that is cheaper than short ribs?

                                      At the local asian store, I get short ribs for $2.49/lb on sale. oxtail is at the cheapest $3.99/lb which is very rare (usually $4.99/lb).

                                    2. Pork shoulder/butt is tasty and very tender when treated to slow and moist cooking methods. It's often the least expensive cut of pork around in my neck of the woods.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: stilton

                                        That's the cut I use for grinding for sausage.

                                      2. I like grilling a Chuck or 7 bone steak to medium rare. A little tougher , but lots of flavor.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: wallyz

                                          I agree with you. If it's cooked to no more done than medium rare, then cut across the grain in thin slices, it's great. It's this poor (wo)man's alternative :)

                                        2. I like to buy free-range or organic meat wherever possible, so I'm always looking for the cheaper cuts! Shin of beef is cheaper than chuck, and is very good for stewing. Skirt for grilling, as other people have said, and feather blade is also good. Lamb shanks are still cheaper than other cuts of lamb.

                                          It may not be an option for you, but at this time of the year some of the cheapest meat is game - and as it's wild it's also a good ethical choice. We had pheasant for dinner last night (£7 for two) and rabbits are £4 each at the moment. If you live in the countryside, they practically give pheasants away.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            That's interesting that allow sales of wild game, here (as far as I know) wild game can't be sold. You can find venison, pheasant etc. but it is raised on a farm for sales. Hunters can't sell what they shoot. I usually buy free-range too, but sometimes I go to a good meat counter that sells good quality commercial stuff and I'm always floored at how much cheaper it is. I bought 4 large sausages for $3, whereas at my normal store it would have been that for each one.

                                          2. Just like skirt steak, flank, and now hanger, stores here are kinda realizing that there are ppl who prefer the better tasting cuts of chicken to the breast. In the states, it seems that boneless skinless chicken breast is the prized part (why? I will never know.) I have noticed more and more often at a few of my local grocers, boneless skinless breast will be cheaper than boneless skinless thighs when the breast is on sale. Example A:
                                            In the upper right hand corner, the B/S breast is 1.69/lb. I will guarantee you that B/S thighs are at least 1.99/lb, maybe more. At that particular store, their reg price is 2.49/lb.

                                            I can still always get inner or outer choice skirt for 2.99/lb.
                                            My choice for favorite bargain beef cut is top sirloin, or outer skirt for "tender" cuts.
                                            I love all cheap braising/stewing cuts.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: gordeaux

                                              Let's not forget the offal. Hard to find if you don't have a big asian or latin community, but my faves are beef heart, marinated and grilled on skewers, pork cheeks (substitute for belly in your favorite recipe, and tongue, although it's not so cheep anymore. Chicken hearts en brochette make a nice presentation. Blood sausage, anyone? Some of these items cost maybe $1.50 a pound if you can find them. Hard to beat that. Of course, one must draw the line somewhere. Kidneys are totally gross!

                                              1. re: Zeldog

                                                Where do you find pork cheeks? It's a cut I'd love to try, but I haven't found a place that carries it.

                                            2. Any cut can be turned into something good with a little creativity. It used to be the pork belly, mussels and oxtails were cheap eats, however trendy chefs have made these prestige cuts. I've learned to instead substitute pork shoulder or neckbones for certain belly dishes. I eat more squid than mussels nowadays. Bluefish is also a great marine protein. Oxtails have been hard to replace, but pork trotters make for deliciously thick soups when I'm craving the mouth-filling texture of long braised oxtails.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                I've been eating beef cheeks done in the slow cooker. I can get them at WalMart for under $2.50/#. They're so rich and fatty, I compare them to pork belly in that "mouth-filling texture." And a little goes a long way. In soft tacos with rice, beans, etc. we get lots of meals from.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I'm going to look for beef cheeks - thanks for mentioning this. How do you like to cook them?

                                              2. Agree with lots of the cuts mentioned. My lament is that, at least in my central Ohio city, meat with bones has virtually disappeared. Sirloin steaks (pin bone, flat bone, etc), short ribs cut flanken style with bones, 7 bone chuck roast, beef shanks, etc. have gone the way of history. Everything seems pre-packaged and boneless. If you want meat with bones, you can't get it at the grocery store, you have to go to a real butcher. While butcher quality is excellent, it is more expensive. What do producers do with all the bones? Is there some black market?

                                                Dark meat chicken is generally on sale in large 10 lb bags for $.69/lb. That's a terrific value and I make chicken stock with it.

                                                1. Lamb necks! I watched the first episode of Ruth Reichl's "Adventures with Ruth" in which they made succulent-looking lamb necks. I was surprised to come across lamb necks at a local market a few days later. I bought them and made the recipe. The meat falls off the bone and is rich, flavorful and delicious.


                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: emmee

                                                    Breast of lamb is also pretty cheap where I come from.

                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      You're in Britain! :) I have serious envy of anyone who lives in the U.K. for your access to high quality lamb. Even average supermarket stuff is 3 or 4x better than what you can get in most places in the U.S.

                                                      Emmee, thanks for posting that recipe! I'm going to try it.

                                                      1. re: cimui

                                                        So I understand. A recent visitor to London from LA was also raving about the quality of the pork here. He was going to the best Chowhound recommended places though!

                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                          Enjoy it! Leftovers are also good. I stir-fried spinach from the farmers market, then mixed in leftover lamb and vegetables - delish!

                                                        1. re: emmee

                                                          I love lamb necks. I discovered them last year from a NYTimes recipe for Lybian Soup - a hearty soup with lamb necks, garbanzos, onions, garlic, tomatoes, etc. It's really good. Here's a link.


                                                        2. I have tried London Broil using a marinade from Chowhound. Four minute broiling on each side and roast it for 15-20 minutes. Tasted like expensive sirloin steak. Also, corned beef was on sale yesterday for $1.39 a pound and chicken quarters .39 a pound.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: classylady

                                                            I get a lot of crap for this from friends and family, but when my local grocer advertizes B1G1 LBs, I stock up. On the grill alongside fresh ears of corn, a tossed salad? Perfect summer meal. ready in minutes, delicious and cheap, cheap, cheap!

                                                          2. Whole sardines are $5 or $6 a pound near me (NYC) and the best way to cook them is with the head/tail intact in lots of oil... It's simpler than grilling and if you cook them long enough you can eat the bones. I'm in it for the nutrition as well. This is one fish that can tolerate a long cooking time.

                                                            1. Did anyone already mention the shin of beef? Forgive me if I'm repeating something. It's delicious and inexpensive - about $2 something a pound. It has lots of flavor, so I actually tried to make hamburger out of it. The flavor was excellent but there is a lot of tissue which needs to be moved out of the way. Still I may try it again, combining the shin with something else in the chopper. Normally, I poach the shin at a low low heat in broth.

                                                              15 Replies
                                                              1. re: omnidora

                                                                I tried using brisket for chili, but I have to say, the strip of fat I removed was about the difference in the cost between brisket and chuck, and I prefer chuck.

                                                                Is shin like brisket?

                                                                1. re: Soop

                                                                  Hi Soop: I think brisket's fattier than the shin. I haven't cooked with brisket yet, so not sure I can comment intelligently. I've eaten both brisket and shin though. Shin seems to be more muscular. Shin is def for the slow cooking approach. And you get that wonderful bone... The shin is far less expensive than brisket, I'm fairly sure.

                                                                  1. re: Soop

                                                                    Homemade Corned Beef: Brisket is very fat unless you can make it from expensive grass fed beef. If you have a place to keep it cool while brining, it is much better to make your own corned beef using a chuck roast. Less salt, less sugar, no MSG or nitrites, less color, and less fat. But oh what flavor!

                                                                  2. re: omnidora

                                                                    Braise beef shin meat in a master soy sauce.....allow to cool completely and slice thin....excellent appetizer or topping for a noodle soup bowl.

                                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                                      I'm with fourunder on this one - hard to beat sirloin and flap meat in terms of beef. Both are available at my local costco/bjs for about 3 bucks a lb - that's eye/top/bottom round prices folks!

                                                                      Also in agreement on the pork. They're all delicious and cheap! Pork shoulder is consistently available for 99c/lb here, and as low as 60c on sale.

                                                                      Hey Fourunder, how much do you pay for your oxtail?

                                                                      1. re: joonjoon


                                                                        When I purchase Fresh Ox Tail, it's usually in the $3.29-3.59 range. The last time I checked at Restaurant Depot, I believe frozen Ox Tails were $2.49 per pound in a 15 pound box. Fresh Ox Tails Vacuum packed two per unit were less than $3. Ironically, one of the Latin Butchers I used to purchase from used the exact same frozen boxes from the same meat packer and resold them fro $1.50-2.00 on top... If I remember correctly, the frozen 15 pound box contains 4-5 tails. Short Ribs can be anywhere from $1.67-2.67 at the Restaurant Depot......Boneless Short Ribs are about $3.69 per pound.

                                                                        Lately, I have been purchasing Hanger and Flat Irons/Top Blade from the RD in the $180-2.60 range. There's usually a .30-.40 gap between Hanger and Top Blade, the latter being more expensive.

                                                                        The Flap meats are usually closer to $4 /lb, but the package is too large for me to make a practical purchase (15-20 lbs).

                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                          Thanks for the info fourunder. The closest RD is about an hour from me but it looks like it might be worth a trip. All the prices sound incredible other than Flap meat - which you can get at bjs/costco for 3 bucks and change.

                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                            Wow, reading through this thread, I'm glad I live in central Wisconsin, I've never paid more than $1.89 for fresh oxtails or short ribs at the local butcher.

                                                                            1. re: David Z

                                                                              Is he a family member? Chuck short ribs with bone are ususally $1.67-2.49/lb.

                                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                                No, just two big factors involved, the meat is coming in 'on the hoof', and there isn't as much demand in this area for these two cuts. Too many people get afraid of cuts of meat that they can't just throw on the grill.

                                                                                The meat is fresh because it comes from what they butcher, but it is also in limited supply every day, so if you have your heart on something, you better get there early.

                                                                                1. re: David Z

                                                                                  Thanks...btw, when i was a youngster, I used to teach tennis in Beaver Dam....the first place i ever saw someone dip potato chips into ketchup.

                                                                                  1. re: David Z

                                                                                    It's those damned minorities...wherever they go they drive up the prices of the good pieces of less-known meat!

                                                                                    My uncle (Korean) tells me stories about how back in the day he used to be able to go to the markets/buchers here and get all the stuff he wanted for pennies. Stuff like fish head, oxtail, tendon, that sort of thing. Now oxtail is more expensive than some cuts of regular meat!

                                                                          2. re: fourunder

                                                                            Thanks Fourunder. What is a master soy sauce? Do you remove the meat beforehand? I really like cooking the bone... A little obsessed with this cut of beef. Glad to hear more from you on this matter. :-)

                                                                            1. re: omnidora


                                                                              I'm no expert on a recipe, but basically it's soy sauce with aromatics, such as, but not limited to ......ginger, five spice, garlic, scallions and tangerine peels. There are separate or combined recipes for each type of meat or used in the same braising liquid for all. .....pork, beef, chicken/poultry and seafoods. Some of my favorite items braised are:

                                                                              Beef shin meat
                                                                              Pork Stomach

                                                                              Personally, I have never had, nor tried braising shin meat with the bone. The marinade itself flavors the meat, so I know my taste buds could not possible extract any more beef flavor from meat on the bone in this instance.

                                                                              Here's more on the subject of master braising liquids from more in the know...




                                                                        2. I just sourced local pork belly for $1.89/lb. I'll have the butcher separate it into 2 lb packages so that ought to last for a long while.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                            Just bought a Farmland pork shoulder (around 9 lb) for 99 cents/lb, and am about to go throw it in the oven and make enough pulled pork for the two of us to enjoy until springtime.

                                                                          2. I’m very surprised no one has mentioned Commercial grade beef tenderloins. They have more flavor than regular tenderloins, due to the age of the beef (hence how it got the commercial rating) yet are still very tender. They are much smaller than a regular tenderloin (close to a size of a very large pork tenderloin).

                                                                            They are usually frozen and I will buy a case and store it in our freezer pulling out tenders as I need them. My last cost from a local butcher was $2.79 pound.

                                                                            It’s fun to have a large pool party and serve everyone mesquite grilled petite filet mignons. They think you have spent tons of money when in fact it was cheaper than the Top Sirloins they served you at the last BBQ.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                              I've never seen commercial grade beef tenderloins before...our local mexican mart carries what I'm almost positive is commercial grade oxtail though. Do most butchers carry this?

                                                                              1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                NO – most butchers do not carry this, however they can special order it for you since all major meat wholesalers deal in the product. My current butcher in WA never dealt with the product, until I ordered it – he was impressed and now he carries it as an in house pre-cut petite Filet Mignon special that sells really well, of course at $5.99 a pound (what he retails them for) most people think it is a steal.

                                                                                If you Mexican butcher can’t get it try a Chinese butcher, Chinese restaurants use a tremendous amount of the commercial tender production in America so they are pretty common in the Asian butcher shops. You may also be able to just purchase 1 tender from them to try out. Also watch the prices, they seem to fluctuate greatly I only buy when it goes below $3.00 a pound. A year ago they shot up to almost $6.00 a pound when a 9 months supply was bought up and shipped to china, so just keep watching the market. Last time I checked it was in the high $3.00 range.

                                                                                If you get it from a butcher you will have to order a case which is about 60 lbs, so you will need the freezer space for them. Just FYI, snake tenders is a slang term for these that some butchers know them as, so if you get a blank stare try asking for snake tenders.

                                                                                Good Luck.

                                                                                1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                  As Gordeaux said, chicken thighs taste much better than breasts, which tend to dry out quickly.

                                                                                  Bein Scheiben (shins) are excellent cooked in the pressure cooker for about an hour and a half and it will give you the best beef broth you have ever seen. Brown them first, then cook them and remove the bone and tendons afterwards with your fingers. You can then use your favorite sauce and cook the meat for a little while in the sauce to absorb the flavor. These are particularly good for something that uses shredded meat or chunks like Mexican or Indian.

                                                                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                    60 lbs! That's going to require a dedicated freezer :)

                                                                              2. All of these posts and not one mention of beef liver?

                                                                                My wife and I enjoyed liver and onions this evening and the cost of the meat for the 2 of us was less than $2.

                                                                                Chicken liver anyone?

                                                                                17 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                                                  I almost never see beef liver at the markets here...any tips on where to find 'em?

                                                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                    Beef liver on sale for $3.99 next week at my local regular grocery, but I'm on Long Island. They're probably in a weird place. Chicken liver seems to always come in 1 lb white tubs, so it doesn't jump out at you.

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      Come on coll, you can do better than $3.99 per pound....that's calves liver territory. Beef Liver rarely sells above $$1.49 in NNJ

                                                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                                                        I hate beef liver (Mom ruined it for me) so I have no idea! Just that's it's available. Now chicken liver is another story, and that I always get for 99 cents. Or free of course, in the giblet bag.

                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                          See, I told you I don't know from beef liver...just pulled the flyer out again and it IS calves liver. Maybe that I would like.....? I do love liverwurst.

                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                            Calves liver is milder and more user friendly to a liver newbie. Make certain not to overcook it.

                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                              I can't touch beef liver, I'm with you on that. But I love calve's liver, properly cooked pink on the inside. It's softer, less fibrous and just amazing with bacon and onions, cooked in butter.

                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                I'm tempted to try it, doesn't sound too hard. I had it once sauerbraten style and that was delicious. But maybe that was beef, who knows, it was a restaurant. Just not like my mother's, overcooked and plain.

                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                  just like (mcf)'s recipe above.....but, dipped in flour and or egg (optional) and try it with reduced balsamic vinegar and finished with cream or H & H.....

                                                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                    That sounds good, I liked the vinegar flavor that one time, and some creaminess to counteract it sounds perfect. OK the sale starts Friday so I might just take the plunge.

                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                      I tasted beef liver once, at someone's home. I couldn't bring myself to continue chewing, much less swallow it! Bleah.

                                                                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                                                                      To make beef liver taste better (and milder), soak it in some milk as a marinade, refrigerated for 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain it well. Carmelize some onions in EVOO, remove. Saute liver in pan drippings, brown well on both sides. I like liver soft on the inside, sort of medium rare. Serve with some creamed spinach with onions and nutmeg. YUM!

                                                                                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                        Creamed spinach sounds good...although I just remembered, last time I ate lots of chicken liver with some spinach on the side, I got kidney stones! (Turns out liver and spinach are on the top 10 list of things to avoid if you have a tendency). Mine aren't ever so bad though, so I'm not counting it out. And thanks for the milk tip, I had heard that but never thought I'd be considering cooking liver.....I wrote it on my shopping list, with a question mark after it ;-) I think the onions will be as important as the liver itself.

                                                                                              2. re: coll

                                                                                                3.99 for beef liver sounds like highway robbery to me...that's more expensive than sirloin steak!

                                                                                              3. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                Ethnic markets...

                                                                                                Latin and asian places will have it.

                                                                                                1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                  Around here, I only know one one independent market that sells fresh beef liver. In the supermarket chains, it is sold frozen, usually in the same area as the frozen poultry.

                                                                                              4. I don't know if lamb shoulder counts as cheap. I think it does, for lamb at least.

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Soop

                                                                                                  If you're talking about the blade cut, I just got it for $1.77 which I call cheap. I'm just throwing it in a pot of sauce I'm making today though, for the bone marrow, the cats will probably get the little meat there is.

                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                    I don't know what the supermarkets around here (Boston metro) do with the rest of the lamb. All I ever see is leg (bone-in and boneless) rib and loin chops, and shanks. No neck, no shoulder, no breast, no riblets.

                                                                                                    1. re: sablemerle

                                                                                                      A lot of it goes to dog food manufacturers, I hear they're the biggest users in this country.

                                                                                                      1. re: sablemerle

                                                                                                        The grocery store chain I frequent, Giant Eagle, doesn't usually have shoulder lamb in the case. However, I request custom cutting for almost all my grocery store meat - like my steaks 1-2 in thick, shoulder or arm bone lamb chops, etc. They never have a problem as I call in advance, tell them what time I will pick up and am "friends" with meat cutters. Notice I don't say butcher, because although these guys are nice to me, they aren't really butchers. They are trained to cut up a sub primal, not break down a whole animal. Have often thought I would like to learn how to butcher, but difficult for women to enter that field, even today.

                                                                                                    2. re: Soop

                                                                                                      Back before local beef prices exploded, I used to buy chuck steak at under $2/lb. Trimmed and diced it made fine meat for stew or chili, and marinated would work for stir fry if sliced thin. These days I can't find beef for under $4/lb unless it's ground (in St Louis, MO) or on some drastic sale, so I've moved to chicken and pork. Healthier anyway.

                                                                                                      One thing to remember about all meats is that much of the price is in the cutting. You can find a pork loin roast at a decent price, take it home and cut it up into chops yourself. If you're adventurous you can even ask your meat department manager about a deal on subprimals and cut your own steaks and roasts.

                                                                                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                        Kind of on-topic, but reverse, I originally planned to cook fore-rib of beef this weekend, but when I went to the butcher, the guy in front of me ordered the same thing - it came to £30! For 2 ribs! I coun't even justify one at that price. So I went for a £5 lamb shoulder instead, and I'm happy I did.

                                                                                                    3. I've seen lamb necks featured on several cooking shows lately (Ruth Reichl, Eric Ripert and a third - Martha S, maybe), with much oohing and aahing. I have never noticed them for sale, and assume they have been affordable but I'll bet that won't last for long.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                        Although this thread looks dead, I'm going to endorse cheek. I've been cooking beef, pig and skate cheek, all are absolutely delicious.
                                                                                                        In the Uk game shot by hunters certainly is sold and can be very cheap if you are lucky enough to know where and when to get it.

                                                                                                        1. re: DougWeller

                                                                                                          I LOVE beef cheeks! Had them three years ago at Babbo and went in search of them. Latino markets always seem to have them as does WalMart although WM's can be VERY fatty.

                                                                                                          1. re: DougWeller

                                                                                                            Most game can't be sold in the states...I live in an area where most people hunt so I get game free. I made a venison tenderloin roast for Christmas that was really good. Today, people were hunting duck & goose. I'll keep my fingers crossed that a neighbor will "gift" me one of those too.

                                                                                                            Cheapest cuts of meat recently here have been whole turkey (for the holidays), pork roast on the bone 1.38 lb, ten pound bags of chicken let/thigh quarters @ .59 lb., chicken livers 1.09 lb, whole chicken breasts 1.29 lb. Not too much beef or other variety of meats lately on sale. I only buy meat when it's a certain price & I don't go over my price limit

                                                                                                        2. It's a mystery to me why anyone would get excited about or even order chicken breast in a restaurant. The only time I order chicken is in Japanese takeout places where they use thigh meat-which can stand up to the charring over open flames that would turn white meat to leather.

                                                                                                          Likewise I don't know why chicken thighs are the cheapest- I can cook them a dozen ways- roasting them is divine- better than roasting a whole chicken IMO because you don't have to deal with all the drama plus no yucky breast! I can also cook them I'm the crock pot all day without repercussions (can't do THAT with breast) and keep shredded thigh meat in the freezer to add to one-person dishes like ramen or salad.
                                                                                                          Go get some chicken thighs!

                                                                                                          1. One of my favorites is skirt steak. At one time I could only find in Latin markets but now the local stupor markup has it for sale on a regular basis.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: jcisn

                                                                                                              There's no denying Skirt Steak is a favorite of many.......but I would no longer consider it a cheap cut of meat, as it's usually priced $5 or higher in my area supermarkets.

                                                                                                            2. I think the best meat value is in dark meat chicken (Leg Quarters $1/lb), chicken breasts ($1.99/lb), Boneless pork loin ($1.99/lb) and Pork tenderloin ($2.99/lb) in that order. Although during the holidays, you can buy turkey for $.89/lb. Even better, get it for free with a $25 purchase of food.

                                                                                                              1. You can't beat chicken legs/thighs (so much tastier than breast meat); I also love pork shoulder butt (the "Boston" cut)...dark, succulent, and well marbled meat great for frying, braising, roasting, and making sausage.
                                                                                                                Also, the Stop 'N Shop stores in my area sell "pork trimmings" at a very low price and, thanks to the relatively inept butchers they tend to hire, these "trimmings" are always a great buy since they often feature large pieces of lean meat along with the expected fat trimmings. Sometimes, the packages seem to have more than 85% leaner meat! Often, the pieces are large and lean enough to tie together into a "roast"

                                                                                                                Flat iron steak used to be fairly cheap, but everyone now seems to have gotten "hip" to the fact that it's a wonderfully tender and VERY flavorful cut and so I rarely see it anymore for under 7.99/lb.

                                                                                                                1. At one of our local chains the have short ribs (with the meat cut off so just the bones)for $5.29. Next to it is the "boneless short ribs" for $4.79. Bizarre.
                                                                                                                  I used to buy the higher grade stew meat at the same store because the butcher told me it was the boneless ribs, until they decided to package them as such. The price almost doubled.

                                                                                                                  I use pork shoulder quite a bit to make a quick confit and then stick it under the broiler briefly to reheat. We also BBQ Pork steaks from the pork shoulder. We also get pork tenderloin for under $3/lb.

                                                                                                                  1. No one seems to have mentioned beef chuck eye steak yet. That's not chuck steak. Nor is it anything to do with the eye of round, also (justly) mentioned in this thread.

                                                                                                                    On each beef carcass, there are just a few cuts from the chuck adjacent to the rib primal and much more akin to rib-eye than to chewy chuck in taste and cooking approach. Cook the chuck eye steak just like a boneless rib-eye. Locally, the chuck eye sells for $5 per pound while the rib-eye sells for $8-9 (USDA Choice in each case).

                                                                                                                    1. costco's choice beef makes me happier than most places prime. it's not a different cut, but it's LEAN!