Much like our taste for fish, we Brits are – on the whole – a little tentative when it comes to broadening the variety of meat we like to scoff. Beef steaks, lamb chops and roast chickens are all well and good, but we can and should look further afield, not least because it would save us money and support sustainability. But also because, by not extending our menus, we are missing out on some delicious food. Devilled kidneys, for example, rich and spicy and served on a slab of toast, are more than deserving of a regular spot on our dinner tables.
- Five unfashionable fish we should all be eating
- Why are British diners so squeamish about tucking into game?
So, for those fed up with the same of sausages, stews and roast dinners, here are five alternative cuts of meat to go out and buy. I’ve talked to butchers, publicans and farmers to get some inspiration….
Kidneys are too often wasted. At the imitable Guinea Grill pub in Mayfair, London, they’ve just this month gone on the menu. General manager Oisin Rogers says: ‘It’s an idea that we’ve been knocking around for a while. It just seemed common sense – a proper traditional British dish for a proper traditional British pub.’ Former head chef Nathan Richardson, visiting from Australia, helped devise the dish. Good in a watercress and radish salad. Worth noting here too are chicken hearts, which regularly appear at the offal-laden St John, also in London.
‘People here should be more adventurous when it comes to meat,’ says Tom Richardson Hill from butchers and restaurant Hill & Szrok. ‘Using the whole animal is more sustainable, and you end up saving a lot of money. And it’s more exciting.’ Tom recommends wood pigeon, plentiful and inexpensive, as an alternative bird for a Sunday roast. The breasts are good with endive leaves and beetroot in a salad.
There will be times when only a belly will do. But spare a thought for pork knuckle, which is ‘cheap and easy to cook, low and slow, and is great winter food,’ according to Tom.
A cut that’s a little more common than the rest of the entries on this list, but is still generally underused. ‘It’s from the top of the neck and is delicious slow roasted on the bone,’ says Amelia Latham Wake from meat experts The Ginger Pig. ‘It’s great in a Lancashire hot pot.’
Beef clod or sticking
‘People often think they want the prime, more familiar cuts and are nervous to try other, perhaps less attractive cuts they don’t know how to cook,’ says Amelia. ‘With a little research, you can discover a whole variety of options that don’t break the bank and are full of flavour. If you’re looking for the cheaper cuts of meat, look to the front of the animal. Meat taken from the fore end is not only the best value, it is also the sweetest tasting. 70 per cent of the animal’s weight is held up by the front legs, increasing muscle bulk and adding great fat marbling.’ Beef clod is exactly that – taken from the shoulder, it’s ideal in stews, slowly cooked to release its flavour.