Monday, 11 August 2008

'Cheap cuts' aren't always cheap

The unrelenting gloom and unseasonal temperatures made me feel like making a stew on Saturday when we were having friends round so I bought four big pieces of organic short ribs or 'pot au feu' as our local butcher calls them. It was a bit of a shock when they came to over £12 but by that time I'd got so carried away with how good they were going to taste I couldn't bring myself to buy something else. And it was great, and it did serve 6 which is only £2 a head (well, probably £2.50ish with the veg and the wine) far, far cheaper than anything you'd get in a restaurant. But it blew a big hole in our weekend food budget which led to us not buying the chicken we were thinking of having yesterday.

It is, it has to be said, one of the few disadvantages of buying from a butcher rather than a supermarket. In a supermarket you know exactly what you're getting and how much it's going to cost. In a butcher you've already entered into the transaction by picking your meat and asking them to weigh it and with several people standing behind you you have to be feeling unusually resolute (or desperate) to ask them to put it back.

It's not the first time I've found that so called 'cheap cuts' can add up a bit, particularly when they're on the bone. Lamb shanks are now a shocking price. Osso buco which I'm sure used to be a frugal Italian cut, equally so. Only scrag end of lamb still seems to be good value and that's almost certainly because of the unappealing name.

What's your experience of buying cheaper cuts?


Jean said...

When we were little my Mum used to make scouse using beef brisket which was a cheap cut of meat then. I still use my Mum's recipe but brisket isn't that cheap anymore, although I tried other cuts of meat and just can't replicate the same taste.

I recently paid £6 for a piece of brisket which made a big pot of scouse, enough to feed 6 so I suppose with the veg and potatoes it cost about £10 in total.

Fiona Beckett said...

Oooo, yes brisket. Brisket is great and you're right does have a special flavour. I love pot-roasting with it. Gosh it's awful thinking about all these wintry dishes!

Julia said...

Yes you're right Fiona. The problem is, 'cheap cuts' have become quite trendy, which has shot the price up. :-(

It really is unseasonal, isn't it? I have a chicken casserole in the oven as I type - in August!

Fiona Beckett said...

Mmmmm. Chicken casserole. Love it!

(Am enjoying your videos btw, Julia. Haven't quite got to that stage yet!)

Julia said...

Thanks Fiona! I'm still experimenting really, but they're quite fun to do.

Helen said...

Shin of beef. Cheap and oh so good when slow cooked all day.

I call my butcher and order a certain £ worth and its all chopped and ready to collect on my way home from work ready to sling into the slow cooker to slowly cook all the next day ready for supper.