Chef on a Budget: Meat

Recipes | | May 11, 2010 at 9:58 pm
Photo by John Lester.

Photo by John Lester.

Magnus Mumby is a dynamic consulting chef currently based in Cornwall, England, where he’s best known for creating healthy and wholesome menus. In his new series for WellWire, Magnus will share his favorite healthy, rustic techniques for wholesome food on a budget.

Most people think that to eat good wholesome, healthy or gourmet food, that they’ll have to spend a lot of money. But nothing could be further from the truth! I’ll go one step further than that and say that some of the best dishes that you can eat are cheap ‘peasant’ dishes. If you think about it, most of the cheap rustic dishes that the masses fed themselves on from countries all around the world are delicious, nutritious dishes. What’s more, most of them are cheap to make! And that doesn’t make them second rate–you only have to look at a few 5-star restaurant menus to see some of these updated classics. Here are some of my favorite cheap cuts of meat, which are also often the tastiest. This is due to the fact that they are often bought still on the bone, so you get a lot more flavour during cooking.

Some of the best dishes all around the world are made with the cheapest cuts. Generations have had to survive on modest budgets and through the generations they got good at creating wonderful dishes in every cuisine. Each country has it’s own daubes of beef, it’s coq au vin, it’s ribbolita, it’s bouliabaisse, it’s shepherds pie, it’s tikka masala. And the one thing they all have in common is that made for a modest price with a maximum taste and flavour.

  • Braised Brisket of Beef: Slowly braise in ale or stock at about 210f/100c for at least 6 hours, I like to leave it overnight. When the meat is lovely and tender and a skewer pierces the meat easily it is done. Serve large chunks of beef with simple mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. Delicious!
  • Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb: A whole shoulder of lamb will serve 6 people and is the cheapest cut of lamb you can buy. Put in a roasting tray with some thyme, rosemary and whole unpeeled garlic cloves. Add a cup of water and seal the tray with foil. Cook as above and serve with green beans and pureed parsnip. My favourite roast dish ever!
  • Confit Duck Legs: Again the legs are cheaper than the breast and cooked properly taste much better. ‘Confiting’ means to cook in fat (This does not mean that it will be fatty!). Place duck legs in a deep oven tray and cover with either duck fat or olive oil, and cook for at least 2 hours @ 225f/110c until the meat is soft and tender. You can keep reusing this fat, just strain through a sieve after using. Each time you will end up with more fat than you started as the fat melts out of the duck. See for yourself, this method is less fatty than your average pot roast!
  • Ham Hocks: Hocks are the ankles of the pork, the cheapest cut again. Slowly simmer in a large stock pan for several hours until the meat flakes away from the bone. After cooling shred the meat and add to macaroni and cheese. Use the stock to make lentil and bacon soup with chunks of the hock in it. Cheap, nutritious and the best comfort food you can eat.

MagnusMagnus Mumby is a British chef with a mission: enable diners to easily and inexpensively create healthy and delicious dishes. He was awarded the Top Ten New Chefs of the Year award by Esquire magazine, among numerous other accolades. To find out more and try his wholesome recipes, visit his site

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