Jowls, Giblets, and Cheeks: 17 Recipes for Underrated Cuts of Meat
Sustainability isn't only a buzzword in food for 2020 — it's an anthem. And as chefs have embraced the nose-to-tail movement, propelling it into fine dining venues and encouraging diners to be more experimental with their proteins, home cooks are joining in. They're showing love to traditionally "undesirable" or "throwaway" cuts such as organs, feet, tails, and other meats that fell out of favor and into the waste bin. As offal stops being presumed to be awful, the time becomes ripe for tripe, and we start to give thanks for shanks, we're offering 16 easy ways to get greener with your red and white meats by using unexpected cuts.
Slow Cooker Beef Neck Bones and Gravy
"Neck bones are a Southern staple," recipe creator Natascha Bowden-Mason says. She tapped into her "favorite oxtail, roast, and neck bone recipes" to write this one, and notes that pork necks can be substituted. This cut of meat starts out tough, but the collagen from the bones makes for a delicious gravy and buttery mouthfeel.
Southern Fried Chicken Livers
Pate isn't the only use for poultry livers — in the South, they're poppable bites of iron, folate, and vitamins A and B. You'll need a spatter screen for this, warns recipe developer Cindy Capps Lett, and ElleJay recommends puncturing the livers before frying to reduce popping — to which Cindy responded, "that really works!"
Halibut Cheeks with Ginger Orange Sauce
In various cultures, fish cheeks are considered a delicacy, so don't be so quick to throw out that head. Large halibut yields plenty of protein, which you'll want if the exclamation points in the reviews are any indication! "I am in LOVE with this recipe," says xemlo, and Brooke in CP adds, "Wowie! Delicious! Just the right blend of spices and flavors." To improve upon it, hike4diamonds suggests "removing the fish from the pan after searing."
Cawl (Traditional Welsh Broth)
This recipe, "derived from the local farming community of Cardiganshire" gives cooks a lot of freedom in terms of meat and cuts. The recipe calls for beef shin, but mutton or pork shins will also do. SelfProphet widens the range, saying "I personally use lamb neck if I can get my hands on some," and Dee and KINEM both agree with Beryl Davis that it's a "hearty soup" that improves with reheating.
Beef and Beet Borscht
Enrich this vegetable-forward soup with a beef shank to take it to the next level. This cut of meat is from the leg, which can be tough and sinewy … unless it's cooked low and slow in moist heat. This recipe turns it tender, and many users with — like this soup — Ukrainian roots have reported this recipe as nostalgic. Dcq2 ramps it up, saying "The only change I made was using two bone-in beef shanks instead of one," while Itsmekay suggests oven-roasting a lamb shank instead.
Southern Style Pig Tails
Skin, fat, tendon, and meat make this cut a great cross-section of flavors and textures. "Be sure to buy pig tails that have a lot of meat around the upper part," advises KERYNE, whose recipe yields a bonus layer of crackling. The double-cooking method used here has MYRTS78 saying, "Great idea; I'm from the Caribbean and we stop at the boiling part."
Slow Cooker Lengua (Beef Tongue)
Considered beneficial to those recovering from illness and pregnant women due to their nutritionally dense profile, tongue should be considered a treat. It's not uncommon to find it on authentic Mexican menus as a taco filling like in this recipe that Soup Loving Nicole says is "simple and full of flavor. This was my first time attempting tongue and it came out wonderful." Chapys13, Joni, and KristaB all rave, "this was so easy!"
Authentic New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
A set-it-and-forget it laundry day dish, this classic is a show of efficiency for nutrition and ingredient use. The use of collagen-rich ham hock — the knuckle attaching the pig's foot to its leg — is the key to its smoky flavor and savory character. "I've made this for guests several times and it's a huge hit," says deb3me. Sheila LaLonde testifies it's "very flavorful, especially if you plan to make it the day before you plan to serve it."
Hoppin' John With Greens - Slow Cooker Recipe
Ham hock, that smoked joint of skin, ligament, and tendon, is also called on to make this Southern dish extra special. WRKNMOM and Kim Mundis both suggest waiting to add the rice closer to the end of the cooking process, and the recipe author, Tanya E., says it can also be served separately.
Thai Monkfish Curry
Often called "the poor man's lobster," monkfish has been hitting gourmet tables as of late. Notoriously ugly, this was labeled a "trash fish" until chefs began to challenge themselves — and support sustainable fishing — by putting it on their menus. "So simple," enthuse Dawn Duffy, Cassas, and Laurita — high praise for a fish that can be tricky to prepare.
Menudo Rojo (Red Menudo)
Honeycomb tripe, from the reticulum of a cow's stomach, is a protein experiencing a resurgence despite still being considered a byproduct. This chewy, tender form is found in Italian, Eastern European, Asian, and Latin American cuisines; this spicy, layered recipe provides a flavorful introduction to its use in Mexico. LeapinLizard suggests adding "6 - 8 cloves of garlic and a lemon" to the first step to neutralize the smell of tripe and users like MAJORGSP and RuthieinL.A. make it even more nose-to-tail-friendly — and richer tasting! — with the addition of trotters.
If you thought all that shrimp had to offer was within its shell, think again. Save the shells and heads (if you have them!) and make this stock to punch up any seafood dish. "Freeze in ice cube trays to thaw as needed," recommends TRB. "I used this recipe for my first time ever making shrimp stock … the stock smelled delicious while simmering and made for a very tasty etouffee," vouches tiffett.
Beef Heart en Mole
Who'd have thought eating heart was good for your heart? This mineral-rich organ is also a great source of coenzyme and antioxidant Q10 as well as vitamin B, which also has a cardioprotective effect. "Beef heart is inexpensive and lean," points out RUTHWARD, but can be intimidating to cook with; Momma Jules reassures us that it was "kind of daunting … until I found this recipe."
Gizzards and Rice
Found only in some animals, this unique organ helps birds like chicken, ducks, emus, and turkeys grind food in ways otherwise impossible without teeth. You'll often find it used as part of the giblet pack for making gravy, but they can be delicious on their own. Users caution that this recipe could use a little more cooking time, but LADYFUNK25 says it's a "Really tasty recipe," echoed by CATBRT who chimed in, "WOW, what flavor and so easy."
Creole Chitterlings (Chitlins)
A cute way to say "pork large intestines," this extremely cheap cut of meat is common to no-waste cuisines all the world over. In the Deep South, it's considered "soul food" due to its roots in slave communities, and a labor of love. Be sure to clean them thoroughly; it "is a little more involved than removing specks," cautions sdgnamma. "The inner membrane must be removed, which is why they are considered a delicacy," echoes Theresa.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew I
"Stew meat" is typically a blend of various scrap cuts of various levels of toughness, but a slow cooker is the ultimate equalizer. This recipe should be a go-to base for customization, as Corinne, MICHNATIVE, Duckball, and others did, but Julie Thalman, grandmoom, 1st Lady, Dawn, and Debbie Mann swear that not a thing should be changed. Audra Schell Ganiear offers the tip of waiting until the very end to add the wine; cooks4forty suggests browning the meat first.
Down South Pinto Beans
Pork jowl, which lends a savory fattiness to slow-cooker pinto beans, comes from the pig's cheek. It can be sold are fresh or cured, and during the long cooking process, it releases hints of pork and smoke, with a just-right touch of saltiness. You may also seen it referred to as hog jowl or jowl bacon.