Cuts of meat like stewing steaks, hocks, and shanks are cheaper than many other cuts and we take full advantage of them in the winter with our hot pots, stews, and slow-roasts. But what about cooking them in the hotter summer months? Can we use them then too? You betcha we can!
Just because you don’t want to be tucking into rich, stodgy casseroles when the sun’s beating down outside, doesn’t mean you have to give up on these cheaper cuts altogether over summer. Have a look at these ways you can transform some of these flavourful slow-cook cuts into your favourite summer dishes.
And no, it doesn’t just have to be pork. You can make pulled lamb, chicken, beef – if you have a slow cooker then you can have it bubbling away all day without raising the heat in the kitchen. Otherwise, cook your slow-cook joint (brisket, pork hocks, pork shoulder, lamb shanks) in the oven on a low heat for a few hours. Once shredded with a couple of forks, you can serve it hot or cold in grain-free breads or wraps with your favourite coleslaw or alongside a freshly dressed salad.
Spice Up The Flavour
Instead of going for rich, wintery flavours like juniper and cinnamon in your roasts and stews, try adding more summery ones like lemon and orange. Slow-cooked lamb shanks work really well with a lemon and olive oil dressing or try pork belly slices roasted with a dash of cider. Other summery flavours to consider include thyme, parsley, olives, red peppers, chillies, and lime. And instead of simmering your stewing steaks and lamb necks in a traditional stew with root veg, cook it slowly in a light curry sauce instead. Scoop it all up with a couple of Paleo flatbreads and have some spinach served on the side.
Make Tacos… and Fajitas
Little gem lettuce leaves become handy little ready-made cups in which you can pile up shredded cooked meats, veggies, and a sprinkle of herbs. Top with a spoonful of zesty guacamole and maybe some salsa or smoky barbecue sauce and you’re sorted. You can also make Paleo fajitas by using grain-free wraps, larger lettuce or cabbage leaves and roll up your fillings instead.
Throw It On The Barbecue
Yes, really. You just need to think about how long it’ll take to cook. Obviously you can’t barbecue a rack of ribs in the same way you’d grill a pork chop. Keep the temperature low and cook it slowly. Check out step by step guides online. You can also cook a marinated, butterflied leg of lamb on the barbecue (again, make sure it’s cooked nice and slow), and a whole, spatchcocked chicken, too. Just make sure the chicken is fully cooked through and that there are no pink juices before serving. If you’re cooking a large joint of meat, like brisket, you can always cook it in the slow cooker or oven until it’s tender and then baste it with your favourite marinade, finishing it off on the barbecue for that smoky flavour. Diced leg of lamb can also be marinated and threaded onto skewers for kebabs. Try aromatic, more exotic flavours with lamb like turmeric, ginger, saffron, and cumin.
Don’t Forget Offal
You might think that kidneys or heart are better off in a rich, meaty stew but they can be used for summer dishes too. Liver just needs a quick fry on both sides before eating – the ultimate quick meal. Or it can be used to make a pâté to take for packed lunches, salads, or on picnics. Try slicing hearts and thread them onto skewers before grilling and serving with a salad. Kidneys can be skewered and grilled, or pan-fried with a splash of liquid and some of your favourite herbs.
Change Up How You Serve It
So you’ve cooked yourself a cut of beef shin and it’s meltingly tender. Instead of serving it with starchy veggies or mash, toss it into some courgette or carrot noodles and stir-fry it to crispen up for a few minutes. Or flake it into a salad, or some fried cauliflower rice. Stews, curries, and pulled meats all make great sweet potato toppings too – ideal when you don’t want a huge, heavy meal on a warm day. And flaked, slow-cooked pork belly, sticky and crisp after a quick blast in a frying pan and scattered all over a green salad is one of my favourite summer meals, with half an avocado and a spritz of lime juice squeezed over.
So there you have it. You can absolutely still use any of the cheaper cuts you have in your freezer over the summer months. Just swap heavy roasts and starchy vegetables for salads, wraps and lettuce cups and you’re sorted. Great flavours, meltingly tender meat – and you’ll be saving money at the same time too.