Putting a Fresh Spin on Forgotten Cuts of Meat

Putting a Fresh Spin on Forgotten Cuts of Meat

Uncovering the Hidden Gems of the Butcher’s Counter

Have you ever found yourself staring blankly at the meat counter, overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options? Where do you even begin? If you’re like me, your go-to choices are probably the usual suspects – chicken breasts, ground beef, maybe a steak or two. But what if I told you that the true culinary treasures are hiding in plain sight, just waiting to be discovered? Welcome to the world of “forgotten cuts” – the unsung heroes of the meat world, ready to transform your cooking and dining experiences.

As the head chef at Camperdown Elm, a Brooklyn-based restaurant that prides itself on using every bit of the animal, I’ve made it my mission to shine a spotlight on these underappreciated cuts. It’s a passion project that has taken me on a culinary adventure, and I can’t wait to share my findings with you.

Embracing the Unexpected: The Joy of Offal

Let’s start with the elephant in the room (or should I say, the liver in the fridge?). Offal, the catch-all term for organ meats, has long been the redheaded stepchild of the meat world. But I’m here to tell you that these oft-overlooked delicacies are the key to unlocking a whole new world of flavor.

Think about it – the heart, the kidneys, the tongue, the sweetbreads (no, not the bread kind) – these are the parts of the animal that are packed with concentrated umami goodness. And when prepared with the right techniques, they can be absolutely mouthwatering. Take our Crispy Pork Tongue Tacos, for example. The tender, flavorful meat is coated in a crunchy exterior and paired with a zippy cucumber salsa, creating a symphony of textures and tastes that will have your taste buds doing cartwheels.

“But what about the ‘ick’ factor?” you might ask. “How can I get over the mental hurdle of eating organ meats?”

Well, my friend, I’m here to tell you that the only thing you have to fear is fear itself (and maybe a few unnecessary preconceptions). The key is to approach these cuts with an open mind and a willingness to experiment. Start small – try a bite of seared liver, or add a few pieces of crispy sweetbreads to your salad. I promise, once you get past the initial hesitation, you’ll be hooked.

Rediscovering the Joys of Underappreciated Cuts

But offal is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to forgotten cuts. Let’s talk about some other unsung heroes that deserve a spot in your culinary repertoire.

Take the humble oxtail, for instance. This gelatinous, fatty tail cut may not look like much, but when slow-cooked to perfection, it transforms into a rich, unctuous delight that will have you scraping the plate clean. Or how about the often-overlooked flat iron steak? This flavorful, tender cut comes from the shoulder of the animal, and when seasoned and seared just right, it can rival any fancy filet.

And let’s not forget about the humble pork shoulder. This versatile cut can be braised, roasted, or even ground into a heavenly sausage. At Camperdown Elm, we use it to create our signature Porchetta, a rolled and roasted pork belly and loin that’s seasoned to perfection and sliced thin, revealing layer upon layer of succulent, crispy goodness.

“Okay, you’ve piqued my interest, but how do I actually cook these forgotten cuts?”

I’m so glad you asked! The key with these tougher, more muscular cuts is to treat them with a bit of extra care and attention. Slow cooking methods like braising, stewing, and roasting are your best friends, as they help to break down the connective tissue and transform the meat into a meltingly tender delight.

And don’t be afraid to get creative with your seasonings and accompaniments. At Camperdown Elm, we love to play with bold flavors and unexpected pairings. Our Lamb Neck Ragu, for example, is simmered for hours until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender, then tossed with house-made pappardelle and topped with a sprinkling of tangy Pecorino cheese. The result is a dish that’s pure comfort, with a sophisticated twist.

Honoring the Whole Animal

But there’s more to this story than just delicious food. At Camperdown Elm, we believe that truly honoring the animals we source means using every part of them, from nose to tail. It’s a philosophy that’s not only better for the environment, but also allows us to showcase the full breadth of flavors and textures that these animals have to offer.

“So, where do you even begin when it comes to sourcing these forgotten cuts?”

Well, let me tell you, it’s not always easy. Many of these cuts are in high demand among in-the-know chefs, which means they can be hard to come by. But we’ve built strong relationships with our local purveyors, ensuring that we have a steady supply of the good stuff.

And when it comes to preparing these cuts, it’s all about finding the right techniques and flavor pairings. It’s a process of trial and error, for sure, but that’s half the fun. We’re constantly experimenting, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the kitchen.

Sharing the Culinary Adventure

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – the joy of discovery, the thrill of the unexpected. When you step outside your comfort zone and embrace the forgotten cuts of the meat world, you open yourself up to a whole new world of culinary possibilities.

So, the next time you find yourself staring at the meat counter, I encourage you to be bold, to be curious, to be adventurous. Grab that beef cheek, that lamb neck, that pork jowl, and let’s embark on a culinary adventure together. Who knows what delicious surprises await?

I, for one, can’t wait to see what you come up with. Happy cooking, my friends!