Beef cheeks, oxtail, shin – all delicious and cheap
There’s something very romantic and rather beautiful about those old-fashioned cuts of meat you braise slowly and lovingly. I ate them all the time as a boy. Everyone did. But when did I last see oxtail or brisket at the butcher’s?
However, they’re slowly coming back. These overlooked cuts of meat are, in my opinion, the finest, most delicious cuts when cooked properly. I think back to the braised beef brisket with dumplings and oxtail and kidney pudding I had as a child…
Here are some of my favourites:
We use cheeks for the daube de boeuf a l’ancienne in my restaurant. These are enormous, thick pieces of beef – superb when braised for four hours. Pigs’ cheeks are similarly delicious. Some supermarkets even stock them now.
The cheaper cuts come from the animal’s most hard-working muscles. The fat content and bone put some people off, but the rich bone marrow enriches your sauce beautifully.
This lean cut has a lot of flavour, but it is also very tough, so it is usually cooked gently for a long time. It’s ideal in a classic Steak and Kidney Pudding or Steak and Kidney Pie or can be finely sliced and marinated to use in Mexican-style fajitas.
I would always recommend using brisket in slow-cooked dishes such as my Beef and Guinness Stew or my Boeuf Bourguignon as it’s both tasty and tender. I like to cut it into large chunks, so you have substantial pieces of meat on the plate.
Oxtail and kidney pudding is one of the regulars’ favourites at my pub, The Yew Tree. It’s hearty and comforting on a cold day. I serve it with my Quick Swede Puree. The secret to cooking oxtail is long, slow cooking, so allow a good three hours of gentle simmering.
This good, inexpensive meat has become very fashionable, but if only more restaurants cooked it properly! It should be gently braised for hours until the meat falls off the bone. Why not try my Lamb Shanks Stockpot Casserole? Delicious.
Many years ago belly pork was very cheap. Although it’s gone up in price, it still represents good value – it’s one of the best. Look out for lamb belly too – I don’t know why more people don’t use it. I know you'll love my Braised Pork Belly with Butter Beans.
Ham hock is sometimes on as a special at the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill. You’ll often see it in a terrine with piccalilli, but it’s also excellent when braised, with a sharp garnish of capers or mustard to balance its natural richness.