During those cold winter days we look forward to rich and warming roasts and stews. Consumed moderately, meat is good for us. High in protein, containing all of the essential amino acids and a good source of micronutrients, vitamin B12 and B6, VitaminK2, other vitamins and iron, meat has its share in a balanced diet.
In respect of animal welfare and environmental protection we should avoid to purchase meat from industrial livestock farming.
For holidays and family celebrations we love a generous roast of beef, lamb, venison, turkey or goose. Having guests for dinner, we like to serve tenderloin or sirloin steaks from beef, calf or venison as a main course.
For everyday eating there are a lot of more economical cuts. To show respect for the animal, one should at least consider to use all edible parts.
Researchers have found that the cuts of meat our grandparents regularly ate are ignored by today's under-35s, younger customers usually ignore mutton, brisket, chuck, shin, oxtail, cheek and offal.
Cheaper cuts often come from tougher, muscled areas and require slow cooking in stews and casseroles to soften them up. But properly cooked they provide a tasty, tender meal, full of flavour. Examples for not so common cuts:
Feather steak: Thinly-sliced steaks cut from the blade, best suited to very quick pan frying or BBQ and served rare, or braised slowly to become tender.
Skirt: Cut from the flank it has a lot of marbling and connective tissue. This makes it flavourful, but tough. Delicious in slow cooked stews.
Recipe: Beef Stew Provençal
Brisket: A cut of beef taken from just below the shoulder along the length of the chest. Also a piece for slow cooking and also delicious cured for several days and then boiled.
Shin: A sinewy cut, the best cut for a slow cooked goulash!
Recipe: Gabi's Beef Goulash
Oxtail: While it is categorised as offal, oxtail is meaty and should appeal to anyone who likes beef. It makes rich and flavoursome slow cooked stews.
Recipe: Oxtail Potjie
Trotters: Both the front and hind trotters are edible, and they can be used in a variety of dishes, mostly together with other pork cuts such as ribs or knuckle.
Recipe: Easy Pork Brawn
Belly: A rather fat cut, but most flavoursome. When cooked, cut off a surplus of fat and enjoy your meal. Gives a juicy roast with crackles, is part of a "choucroute garnie", plays an important part in patés and various international dishes.
Recipe: Country Paté
Ribs: This is the area where spare ribs come from. They have some meat, but not enough to be chops, but they are excellent roasted or barbecued.
Recipe: Garlic Ribs
Breast: Like the pork belly, this cut is rather fat, but cooked with care and patience it rewards with deliciously tender meat. Can be stuffed and slow roasted or used in stews.
Recipe: English Hot Pot
Shanks: The front and hind shanks are best braised. Cooked until they nearly fall apart, lamb shanks make a juicy and comforting winter meal.
Liver: Lamb's liver is nearly as tender as calf's liver, but much more economical.
Recipe: Liver and Bacon Casserole
Most economical if you buy a whole bird and use all parts including the carcass which makes a wonderful stock when slow cooked. If just a smaller cut is required, try the thighs instead of the more expensive breast, they are moist and tender.
Recipe: Stuffed Chicken Thigh Fillets
Soup hen: A chicken soup slow cooked with a soup hen provides a flavourful comforting treat.