Real talk: pasture-raised, healthy meats cost a lot more than a pack of meat you can just throw into your cart at Costco! I know! And, lest you think I’m somehow swimming in a sea of free meat over here, Ryan and I buy everything we eat directly from Bavette at retail prices. So, I know that it can feel really expensive to buy quality meat. That’s why I think it’s really important to get the most bang for your meat buck. There are a lot of tips and tricks that I use at home to make sure we’re getting the most value out of every last bit, and so I wanted to take a moment to share those with you so that you too can start maximizing your meat dollars, and respect the animal as much as possible while you’re doing it. So, here are five easy little tips for you to try at home:
Keep a ziplock bag in the freezer for bones. When you roast one chicken or rib roast and then ask yourself if you want to make stock with the bones, the answer might be no because it’s not worth it to make a tiny batch of stock. Stock is work and if you’re going to do it, you might as well do a lot at a time. At my house, I keep a bag in the freezer and my family knows that, when we clean up dinner, any bones that are left over go straight into that bag. If I’m cutting anything up at home before cooking, those bones can go into the bag, too. When the bag is full, I bust out the slow cooker and make some stock.
Keep separate, labeled containers in the freezer for livers, hearts, and other offal type things. Really, the same thing goes here. If you buy, for instance, a whole chicken and you get the liver, heart, and gizzard inside, it’s not possible to do much with those tiny little things. But, if you accumulate a bunch of them over time, you can do lots of things! Personally, I like to make skewers of chicken hearts wrapped in pancetta and grilled and chicken liver pates and mousses.
Keep a separate, labeled container in the freezer for fat and skins. Now you’re getting the hang of things! Of course, the main idea here is that eventually, when you have enough chicken skin or beef or pork fat accumulated, you can defrost it and render it so that you have a natural cooking fat to use. This saves you money in the long run since you won't have to buy cooking oils, and increasingly animal fats are being recognized for their health benefits for us. The slow cooker makes rendering fat easy and, pro-tip, if you add some garlic or rosemary in there while it’s going, the whole pot will be infused with flavor.
Use trim and scraps in stock or bone broth. If you happen to trim anything off before you cook a piece of meat, or you have some fatty or chewy scraps that no one ends up eating, throw those into the bone bag. They can add a lot of flavor to your broths and stocks.
Feed your pets & get creative in the kitchen. Chicken gizzards, pork livers, and other offal cuts can be amazingly healthful for us, and delicious. But, if that’s not your thing, you can always chop them right up in the food processor and freeze in small containers to add to your pet's food. Blitzing them in the food processor also makes it easy to incorporate a tiny amount into ragus, burgers, and other ground meat dishes, if you’re feeling adventurous. Offal contains a lot of minerals and nutrients that we usually don’t get enough of, and starting with a tiny amount will hardly be noticeable to your palate.
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