New trends in forgotten cuts

James Martin
21 September, 2015

With Autumnal weather suddenly upon us, we decided to ask James a few questions about his favourite cuts for slow cooking.

What are your three favourite forgotten cuts?

Lamb rump should be more popular than it is. It's the ideal cut of meat for one or two people, almost a mini-joint on it own. And I love pork cheeks- it's the part of the animal that does the most work, and so in my mind it has the best flavour. When it comes to beef, featherblade is another cut of meat you don't often see in the supermarkets, as it tends to be used for pies and mince, but it's fantastic slow-braised - ask your butcher to get it for you. 

James Martin lamb rump


What should people be buying more of?

Look out for lamb neck, trotters and shoulder of pork; they're such cheap cuts to buy, and any butcher will be only too glad to sell them to you. Pig's cheeks and pork belly are staples on many restaurant menus these days, and we should follow their lead by cooking them more at home as well. 

pork shoulder


Is it easy to swap out more common pieces of meat for forgotten cuts?

You need to bear in mind that forgotten cuts are often parts of the animal that work harder, and so they need longer cooking for tenderness, but the upshot is they will have the better flavour. You could swap out chicken in coq-au-vin for featherblade of beef and braise it with red wine and shallots. Shepherd's pie can be upgraded by using braised lamb shoulder instead of mince for a real chef's dish.

Shepherds pie


What's the best forgotten cut restaurant dish you've ever eaten? 

Cheek or short rib of beef, often not used owing to the fact they take a long time to cook, low and slow; the flavours are second to none.


What cut would you use in a curry?

Beef shin is fantastic in an Indonesian rendang curry or slow-cooked lamb shanks can be great in a curry too.


What cut is best to feed a crowd?

Chinese cooks really know how to use the lesser-known cuts of meat; something like Chinese-spiced pork ribs are great for a crowd because you just put the ribs in the oven and they become lovely and sticky as they cook. Then you can just pile it all onto a serving platter with a bowl of cabbage slaw and everyone can dig in. 

Chinese ribs james martin


Can you give us five tips for slow cooking meat?

Firstly, it's all about the ingredients: you need to keep things simple with good quality meat. Then, you need to remember the golden rule, which is whatever part of the animal does the most work will need the longest cooking, but has the best flavour. Another important thing to remember is that you don't need any new gadgets to cook this way, but if you like a new toy for the kitchen, then choose a slow cooker over a pressure cooker as they're more versatile.
Something people often don’t know is that fish can benefit from the slow treatment too, whether it's marinated, as in treacle-cured salmon, or baked whole, as in whole roast salmon. 
Lastly, confit is a great way of using cheaper cuts and making them tender. You can confit most meats; classically it's done with duck legs. The idea is to slow cook the meat in its own fat without letting it boil

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