If you have rib-eye tastes and a chopped-sirloin budget these days, you're not alone. Meat prices are sending waves of sticker-shock through butcher shops and markets across the country. In one year, the price of pork rose 15 percent, chicken about 10 percent, and beef around 8 percent. One reason: The price of livestock feed went up when corn became the "it" crop for ethanol, and farmers cut back on their herds. Supply is down, but demand is still high.
Don't mourn the filet mignon. Inexpensive cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, which you may have passed by in the past, pack plenty of flavor. With our buying and cooking tips, along with some simple and delicious recipes, you'll find yourself saving money, and eating tender, juicy steaks, poultry, pork, and lamb.
Cheaper doesn't have to mean tougher. It's true that initially the more expensive cuts are more tender. They're from the parts of the animal that don't get exercised -- the ribs, the loin, the breast. There are more muscles and tendons in the legs, the round, and the shoulders, and if you don't cook them with care, they will be tough.
Slow equals tender. For the most part, inexpensive cuts aren't "throw it on the grill" food (skirt steak, however, is an exception: it's a good grilling choice when marinated). We're talking longer, moister methods: roasting (chicken and turkey legs and thighs) and braising (brisket and pork shoulder), and adding them to stews and casseroles. Low heat (never above 180 degrees) for long periods of time breaks down the tough bits for melt-in-your-mouth texture.
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