On the average, Americans consume 11 ounces of meat per day. That’s a world topping 250 pounds per person per year. Now I am not saying that to eat frugally that you must switch to vegetarianism or veganism, but some good advice I received recently was to use meat as more of a condiment. What do I mean by this? Instead of using the recipes whole pound of beef, try using ¼ as much. Beef stroganoff calls for beef tenderloin; at $10.00 a pound there is no way to serve your family a serving under $1. But cut it to ¼ as much, $2.50 and make 6-8 servings and the math works. And beef stroganoff receives the bulk of its flavor from bouillon, sour cream and dill.
My recommendations when selecting the inexpensive cuts of meat can be used as a guide to help in your decisions.
Best Beef for Grilling – Flank steaks and skirt steaks. They come off the grill flavorful and tender.
Best Beef for Roasting/Smoking – Chuck roast. Try braising in beer, wine or broth.
Best Beef for Pan Searing – Top sirloin butt. Try pan frying in a half and half mixture off butter and olive oil.
Best Pork for Grilling – Ribs, what can I say?
Best Pork for Roasting/Smoking – Pork shoulder, just cook it low and slow.
Best Pork for Pan Searing – Pork chops. That caramelization is superb.
Best Poultry for Grilling – Chicken leg, the combination of smoke char and dark meat is wonderful.
Best Poultry for Roasting/Smoking – Turkey, buy them on sale at Thanksgiving and freeze a few.
Best Poultry for Pan Searing – Chicken thighs, that meat close to the bone has the best flavor.
Let’s talk tenderizing those cheap cuts of your favorite meat. There are 3 methods of tenderizing meats in the kitchen. First is to pound the heck out of the meat or grind it up. You are trying to break down those fibers in the meat so that it will come apart easier. If this doesn’t work, a less efficient method is marinate. The acid in citrus can help break down those stubborn fibers. But for marinate to be effective, it needs to be injected all through the meat. The last way is to slow cook the meat by stewing boiling or braising. Or try smoking the meat in a wood smoker for several hours.
Here are some of the lesser used cuts.
Chuck eye steak is tougher than an average steak and will require marinate.
Tri-tip or sirloin tip which comes from the hind leg of a cow.
Pork shoulder is best used in soups, stews and smoked low and slow for hours.
Flank steak is good for fajitas and thinly sliced beef recipes.
Oxtails are very bony which imparts good flavor to the meat.
A nice fat turkey can provide for several meals.
Beef short ribs also smoke well and gather flavor from the bone.
Chicken thighs are the best tasting part of the chicken.