Little inspires culinary creativity like a brand new ingredient to work with. Whether you’re keen to offer cheaper alternatives in your eatery, or are looking for something new to serve your diners, these 5 unusual cuts are very economical and perfect for innovative menus.
Lesser-known cuts of meat are becoming increasingly popular, both on restaurant menus and amongst the foodie contingent. Cuts like brisket, lamb belly, beef chuck and oxtail are all having a real renaissance as consumers, diners and chefs alike look for something fresh that they’ve never tried before.
If you’re keen to get your hands on some more cost-effective, innovative cuts, the IMS of Smithfield team have compiled a few of their favourites ? perfect for everything from haute cuisine to slow, home cooking.
Brisket is having a bit of a ?moment? right now. Until recently, this low-cost cut was seen as a bargain basement piece of beef. Today, brisket’s on the way back as a new culinary generation discover its tenderness and succulence. Taken from the lower back and chest of the cow, brisket is perfect for slow cooking, particularly once boned and rolled. We’ve heard chefs claim it’s better than topside ? and markedly cheaper too.
Best served: Pot roasted or slow cooked
2. Lamb Belly
Once upon a time, pork belly was not considered to be a cut worth bothering with. Today you’ll find pork belly on most self-respecting menus. Now it’s lamb belly’s time in the spotlight.
Also known as lamb breast, this cut is low-cost, flavourful and, above all, adaptable. Like brisket, this cut takes some time and love to turn it into an exceptional dish ? but that’s all part of the fun.
This is a very fatty cut, which means you’ll want to cook it as low and slow as you can. But, give it time, and the fat renders beautifully, leaving you with rich, slightly gamey melt-in-the-mouth lamb.
Best served: Slow cooked or slow braised
- Bonus tip: If you want to try something really different, why not use lamb belly to make lamb bacon?
3. Pork Neck
From knuckle to cheek, unusual, traditionally ?squeamish? pork cuts are increasingly popular on gastronomically-minded menus. If you’re looking for a cost-effective, lesser-known cut which delivers big flavour, pig neck could feature in your latest special. This is a superbly moist cut, full of flavour. Best cooked low and slow, this is a chunk of meat which soaks up flavour beautifully ? perfect for marinading.
Best served: Slow cooked or stewed
4. Beef Skirt
If you don’t have the time or patience for slow cooking, skirt is an excellent cut to explore. Although its popularity is growing, these cuts are still modestly priced, particularly compared to high end steak. This impressively flavourful piece of meat comes from the underbelly of the animal and really needs to be served medium at the most. Well done, this meat will become tough. However, get your cooking times right, or use a marinade to tenderise it before cooking, and skirt makes a very respectable piece of beef indeed.
Best served: Grilled or fried
5. Lamb Neck
One of our butchers swears blind that lamb neck is the ?lambiest? cut on the animal. If you love the rich, subtle gaminess of lamb, this is the cut for you. Whether you’re creating a Morroccan stew or slow roasting in a sweet marinade, lamb neck is a little known showstopper.
Best served: Slow roasted or stewed
Our butchers are meat experts with decades of experience. Ask us about the unusual cuts we sell to trade or enrol on one of our butchery masterclass to learn the bare bones and much more.