Now is the moment to get thrifty – and there's no need to be ashamed about it. Buying meat on the bone can be very economical and some of those cheaper cuts that tend to end up in the stock pot or the dog bowl should actually be landing on our plates.
Modern butchers often disregard really tasty, cheap cuts, but with families looking for good-value meat, British butchers should be a bit more forward thinking, like their continental counterparts, and make good use of secondary cuts such as bellies, ribs and skirts.
Veal cutlets with Treviso
There are some great veal producers now in the UK so we should all be eating more British veal instead of buying the bland white stuff imported from Holland.
Treviso is a member of the radicchio and endive family and looks a bit like a long red chicory and can be bought from good greengrocers. If you can't find it, radicchio will work equally as well.
4 veal cutlets weighing about 250-300g each
2 heads of Treviso
1tsp chopped fresh thyme or oregano leaves
4-5tbsp olive oil
1tbsp vincotto or balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Quarter the Treviso, remove the root and separate the leaves.
Preheat a ribbed griddle pan. Season and lightly oil the cutlets and grill for 4-5 minutes on each side until just pink.
Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the Treviso leaves and thyme, season and cook on a low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the leaves soften. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the leaves begin to colour. Add the balsamic vinegar, stir well, then remove from the heat.
To serve, put the cutlets on warmed plates and spoon the Treviso and pan juices over.
It always amazes me how these tasty ribs, which come from above your Sunday roast cut, often just get trimmed and minced – or even simply thrown in the bin.
Ask your butcher for beef ribs that are cut above the rib with the pieces of meat between each bone or, better still, get the ribs they bone out to produce rib-eye steaks.
I'm all for easy barbecue marinades and sometimes throwing some larder ingredients together quite randomly gets you better results than following a long-winded recipe. My rules are just to include ketchup, HP Sauce, Worcestershire sauce, something sweet like honey and a few spices like cumin, chilli or Five Spice.
Really, it's all about getting the ribs sticky and the flavour penetrating into the slow-cooked meat, so as far as I'm concerned you can use whatever your preference is for marinades. Just make sure you add a little water to the pan every so often to compensate for the juices evaporating and to ensure the ribs don't burn.
1.2-1.5kg beef short ribs, cut to about 6-7cm long
6-7tbsp tomato ketchup
6-7tbsp HP Sauce
1tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2tbsp soy sauce
1tsp Chinese Five Spice (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
100g fresh root ginger, scraped and finely grated
100ml orange juice
Put the beef ribs into a non-reactive tray, mix all of the rest of the ingredients together and pour the marinade over. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4. Transfer the ribs to a roasting or baking tray and cook for 2 hours, basting and turning them every so often. You may need to add a little water if the marinade dries up.
Serve with a salad, coleslaw and maybe some potato wedges cooked in the oven.
Slow-cooked lamb breast ribs
These are the ribs that are attached to the breast bone. They make excellent little snacks to nibble on if you cut through the bones, or you can serve them as slabs like this. Also they are – or should be – extremely cheap and can be perfect for the kids to munch on.
1-1.5kg lamb breast ribs, cut into 5 bone pieces
1 whole bulb of garlic, roughly chopped
A handful of rosemary, roughly chopped
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Put the ribs in a roasting pan with all of the other ingredients and season. Bake for about an hour in the oven until very tender, basting regularly as they are cooking. Cover with foil if they are beginning to colour too much.
Serve with coleslaw or a simple vegetable salad. You could also try accompanying them with the green sauce recipe that I wrote about in these pages a few weeks ago, using wild garlic, mint, parsley and basil.
Pork knuckles cooked in cider with Tewkesbury mustard
Cooking pork or ham in cider imparts it with a flavour that is both delicious and subtle. What's more, the cooking liquor makes a fantastic sauce.
I recently got sent some mini pork knuckles from Donald Russell, which are perfect one-portion cuts for this dish – otherwise you could use larger pork knuckles and cut them once cooked.
4 mini pork knuckles or 2 larger ones
500ml medium cider
500ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
1 large onion, peeled and halved
For the sauce
2 large shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
1tbsp Tewkesbury mustard
150ml double cream
1-2tbsp chopped parsley
Put the pork knuckles in a saucepan with the cider, chicken stock, bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and onion. If the cider and stock isn't sufficient to cover the pork well, add some cold water too.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 1-1½ hours, skimming every so often, or until the meat is just coming away from the bone.
Strain about 250-300ml of the pork cooking liquid into a small saucepan; cover the pan to keep the pork hot. Simmer the stock with the shallots until it's reduced by about half, then add the mustard and continue simmering until it reduces to a couple of tablespoons. Next, add the cream and simmer until it's reduced by about two-thirds and thickened; now add the parsley, simmer for a minute, season to taste and remove from the heat.
To serve, remove the pork knuckles from the pan, dry on some kitchen paper and place on warmed serving plates, then pour the sauce over.