Tag Archives: meat

5 Budget-Friendly Cuts of Beef and How to Cook Them

As grocery prices mount, it’s a bonus to find cheaper alternatives, especially when it comes to meat. One area where you can save big and find some great new favourites is by seeking out inexpensive cuts of beef, a typically higher-priced protein. These new cuts of beef are as delectable and easy to cook as some of your old standbys, but far more affordable. Before you head to the butcher this week, take note of what to ask for and how to cook it with this handy guide.

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7-Bone Steak or Chuck Steak

Often thought of as the ground meat in a good burger, chuck steak is akin to a rib steak in its fattiness and makes an excellent, cheaper alternative cut. If prepared correctly, it provides the perfect balance of marbling and highly flavourful meat. Because it contains bones, you’ll also benefit from the richness they impart.

How to Cook: Best marinated to tenderize, this steak yields greatest results when grilled over high temperature just to medium-rare doneness – overcooking will lead to a chewy, dry steak.

Bavette Steak

Also called a flap steak, this cut comes from the bottom of the sirloin. This inexpensive option boasts major flavour and benefits from being marinated and scored as you would a flank steak.

How to Cook: After grilling it should be seared at a high heat for a short time and rested before slicing against the grain. A perfect cut for a steak salad, sandwiches or tacos.

Petite Filet with Wasabi CreamGet the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Petite Filet with Wasabi Cream.

Shoulder Tender or Petit Tender

The consequence of being difficult to cut from the animal, the shoulder tender is an underused piece of beef. Similar to filet mignon and pork tenderloin, only more flavourful, it’s a very tender cut of beef weighing about 8 to 12 oz. Like pork tenderloin, it occasionally has a silverskin that can be easily cut away.

How to Cook: Try it seared and finished in the oven, cut into medallions and grilled or cut into strips for a fast stir-fry. It’s best cooked no further than medium to maintain tenderness.

Merlot Steak

Perfect for grilling, broiling and stir-frying, the merlot cut is known for its flavour, but is also a lean steak, making it one that needs proper attention to avoid dryness and toughening.

How to Cook: It’s recommended to cook this cut over high heat for only a few minutes per side, which helps maintain flavour and tenderness. Like the shoulder tender, keep this steak below medium doneness.

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Oyster Steak

The oyster steak’s higher fat content and exposure to air means bigger, beefier taste. It’s called oyster steak because this cut’s interesting fat pattern looks a bit like an oyster shell.

How to Cook: Deeply flavourful, this little 6 oz gem is another steak benefiting from higher temperature for a shorter period of time, about 3 minutes per side.

Get ready for barbecue season with our essential tips for grilling any cut of steak perfectly.

Cooks vs. Cons: All the Right and Wrong Cooking Techniques

Cooks vs. Cons, the new competition show hosted by Geoff Zakarian, premiered in April, and it’s been quite the learning experience.

Viewers don’t know who’s who in this exciting show that mixes true professionals and amateur chefs as they try to out-cook one another. Each episode is a thrilling adventure as contestants are tasked with cooking a traditional dish with surprise ingredients.

The right (and wrong) moves in the kitchen can be a dead giveaway as cooks try their hardest to impress the judges (including Josh Elkin of Sugar Showdown).

Here, we go over some of the right and wrong cooking techniques that separate the pros from the amateurs. Read on to learn how to con others into thinking you’re an expert chef.

Cooking Mac and Cheese with Peppers

Right: As seen in the episode, “Mac ‘n’ Cheese Meltdown,” a true professional would char or roast their peppers before adding them to the comfort food classic. Charred peppers would give this dish that added heat.

Wrong: An amateur would just dice the peppers and add it to the mac and cheese without cooking it first.

Cooking Burgers Using Cereal

Right: When a true professional is tasked with incorporating cereal into a burger, they use the ingredient for texture. Cereal is just the thing to give a burger some crunch. Coating onion rings, the perfect substitute for french fries, in shredded cereal is another pro-move, as seen in the episode “Burger Battle.”

Wrong: Only an amateur would think mixing cereal  with the patty is enough. Chefs must always think outside the box.

Cooking Protein with Jams

Right: Jams or jellies may not be on anyone’s radar when cooking meat, but a professional knows marmalade can become a nice glaze. Spreading it over the crispy skin of a duck, chicken or pig is a total pro move. Marmalade is tart and slightly bitter, which pairs wonderfully with protein.

Wrong: You must be an amateur if you dare to combine strawberry jam with fish. When glazing a fish like cod or salmon, go for something less sweet and more vinegary like a balsamic.

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Cooking Tacos Using Soda

Right: In the episode “Taco Takedown,” one contestant added orange soda and cola in their steak marinade for a Miami-style taco. The sugar from the soda balances nicely with the acidity from the sour oranges and key limes. 

Wrong: Using cola or root beer on your taco as a substitute for syrup is basic. As judge Graham Elliot explains, you want to be able to taste the soda and not second guess it.

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Cooking Meat & Potatoes with Cookies

Right: A pro move is combining lamb with mint cookies for a winning combination. One contestant on the episode “Cookie Crumble” made delicious lamb chops with a mint chocolate crust. A real chef knows the earthiness of the chocolate balances the flavour of the meat perfectly.

Wrong: An amateur would only use cookie crumbs as a garnish, instead of using chunks to elevate the flavour of the meat. Go big or go home, as they say.

Watch new episodes of Cooks vs. Cons Mondays at 10 E/P. Catch up on episodes online here

Food Safety: The Shelf Life of Meats and Seafood

Nothing makes weeknight dinners easier than having a fridge fully stocked with a variety of delicious possibilities. Purchasing meats and seafood on sale can save you a lot of money in the long term. But before you fill your cart full of groceries, read this simple guide on safety practices for keeping eggs, poultry, beef and more.

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Eggs
Whole eggs are one of the top contenders when it comes to having a long shelf life. They will keep safely in the fridge for a full 5 weeks. Over time, eggs take in air, which pushes the white away from the shell making it extremely easy to peel — a bonus for deviled egg lovers!

Liquid, pasteurized eggs may seem more convenient, but they have a shorter shelf life. Once opened, they need to be used within 3 days. Regardless of the type of egg you purchase, they should never be stored in the freezer.

Beef
When you buy fresh, ground beef, you don’t have long to cook it, as it has to be consumed within 2 days of purchasing. Other cuts of beef, such as steaks or roasts, are a bit more forgiving; they can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freeze it: To extend the shelf life, freeze any type of beef in a tightly sealed container. Ground beef can be used within 4 months, and all other cuts can be kept for up to 12 months.

Cook it: From a rich Bolognese to a saucy stew, if you like to make big-batch meals with beef, they can be cooked and safely stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and the freezer for up to 3 months. Just make sure to transfer any hot food into small, shallow containers to ensure it cools quickly, which prevents bacteria from growing.

Pork
It’s hard to grocery shop without picking up a package of the ever-beloved bacon and luckily, you have a full week to safely consume it. Fresh sausage and ground pork are also delicious options, however, they should both be cooked within 2 days of purchasing. Other cuts of pork, such as chops, can be consumed within 5 days.

Freeze it: Freeze any pork in a tightly sealed container. Bacon will keep for up to a month, fresh sausages and pork for up to 2 months and other cuts for up to 6 months.

Cook it: Cooked pork of any kind can be safely stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and the freezer for up to 3 months.

Poultry
Poultry is a great staple for delicious and affordable meals. From chicken to turkey and quail, all fresh poultry should be consumed within 2 days of purchasing.

Freeze it: Freeze any poultry in a tightly sealed container. Individual cuts, such as breasts or thighs, can be used within 9 months and whole poultry, such as chicken, can be kept for an entire year.

Cook it: Cooked poultry can be safely stored in the fridge for 4 days and the freezer for up to 4 months.

Lunch Meats
Your sandwich meats should be consumed within 4 days of purchasing. If you’re looking for something that will last the full week, try buying cured meats, such as summer sausage, which can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Freeze it: Freeze any lunch meats in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 months.

Seafood
Whether it’s trout, haddock, spot prawns or lobster, all fresh fish and shellfish should be consumed within 2 days of purchasing. However, smoked fish has a longer shelf life and can be kept for up to 14 days.

Freeze it: Freeze any fish or shellfish in a tightly sealed container. Fatty fish, such as mackerel, along with any shellfish or smoked fish will keep for up to 2 months and leaner fish, such as sole, will keep for up to 6 months.

Cook it: All cooked fish can be safely stored in the fridge for up to 4 days and the freezer for 4 to 6 months.

*Note: Always remember you can never re-freeze any food that has previously been frozen, regardless of the type of meat or seafood.

10 Classic Delis You Need to Try Across Canada

It’s kind of a tease visiting great delis in different cities since you can’t always take the perishables home with you. But if you’re looking for the best fresh cuts of meat and classic sandwiches, here are 10 delis across the country everyone should try at least once.

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ABC Euro Deli

ABC Euro Deli (Toronto, ON)

You can walk into ABC Euro deli and pick up some classic European comfort food like giant cabbage rolls, but peruse the aisles and you’ll find more than a few interesting items to try, like brined watermelon, eggplant spread and more.

Ben’s Meats and Deli (Edmonton, AB)

Bologna, beer sausage, house-smoked hams, braised meat sandwiches (like their “rib on a bun”) — you name it, they’ve got it. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, Ben’s has a great selection of European candies (like licorice) as well.

Boucherie Atlantique (Montreal, QC)

Aside from having a large selection of prepared meats, fresh salads like potato salad or the slightly more unusual pickled herring salad, mustards and preserves, Atlantique also has a tasty array of fresh produce.

Bulk Cheese Warehouse (Saskatoon, SK)

Don’t let the name fool you — this Saskatoon institution offers a whole lot more than just cheese. With a butcher in the back and a main room full of salads, appetizers, fresh-made pasta and, of course, cheese (among other tasty things), Bulk Cheese is basically a one-stop shop.

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Italian Star Deli via Leaderpost (left) and CBC (right)

Italian Star Deli (Regina, SK)

Next year, Italian Star turns 50, which is no easy feat in today’s food scene. Initially, the market focused solely on Italian imports but now prides itself on offering unique food products from places like Greece, Eastern Europe and South America, to name a few.

The Italian Store (Calgary, AB)

Although you can pop in here and pick up anything from mortadella and salami to fresh mozzarella and ricotta, the true highlight of this deli would have to be its little cafeteria. They offer paninis, pizzas, pastas and a lot more at prices that won’t break the bank. It takes a bit about 20 minutes or so to get there from downtown but trust me, The Italian Store is well worth the drive.

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The Italian Store via Trip Advisor

The Italian Store (Halifax, NS)

With the same name as Calgary’s popular Italian deli, it can be assumed that you’ll walk into this shop and find similar products as far as produce, preserves and pastas go, but it’s fresh daily offerings is where these two spots differ. The (slightly calorie rich) pates made with smoked salmon and mascarpone are like the cheeseball’s cooler cousin, and it’d be a shame if you missed out.

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La Bottega via Not Just Vegetarian

La Bottega (Ottawa, ON)

This bustling specialty Italian food shop has more types of canned tomatoes and balsamic vinegars than you can shake a stick at. Walk to the back and you’ll find a large selection of cheese, cured meats, as well as their signature sandwiches, at a counter that garners long lines almost every day over the lunch hour, so you know they must be good!

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Myrer’s Deli

Myer’s Deli (Winnipeg, MB)

Sure, you can buy a lot of different items here like pickles, cheese and prepared foods, but if you’re getting a little hungry while you shop, opting for a classic corned beef or pastrami sandwich is definitely the right thing to do.

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Max’s Deli via Squarespace 

Max’s Deli (Vancouver, BC)

If you thought Italian Star’s near 50 years in business was an accomplishment, then Max’s 66 years slicing meats and serving Vancouverites will impress you even more. Obviously much has changed in the city’s dining scene over two-thirds of a century, but people still appreciate simplistic sustenance and no-hipster-frills of Max’s.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Meatloaf with Chipotle Glaze

Meatloaf is definitely making a comeback! Like many other traditional comfort foods, meatloaf is simple to make, can be customized for your taste and is relatively inexpensive.

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This juicy meatloaf is encased in prosciutto and is doused in a generous amount of a smokey-sweet chipotle balsamic glaze. It requires very few ingredients and if you’re looking to make it last, you can shape individual meatloaves and bake them in mini loaf pans. That way you can freeze them for later!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp  adobo which comes in cans of chipotle peppers
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground chicken
1 whole egg
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 half medium Spanish onion, finely chopped
8 strips of Prosciutto
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Start by assembling the glaze so that the flavours have time to meld together. In a bowl with the adobo, mix in the balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard and ketchup. Give it a stir all together to make sure everything is combined. Set it aside.

2. For the meatloaf, add breadcrumbs to a large mixing bowl. To the breadcrumbs add the ground chicken and the ground pork. Toss in the cumin and oregano along with a hit of both salt and pepper. Crack in the large egg and start to mix all together.

3. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once preheated, add the finely chopped onion and red pepper pieces. Start to sauté until onions and peppers are soft, and onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

4. Now that the vegetables are ready, add them to the bowl with the meatloaf and stir until combined. You want the meatloaf to stay fluffy, so make sure to fold in the remaining ingredients. Once the meatloaf ingredients are completely combined, and set the meatloaf aside.

5. Line a loaf pan with tin foil. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

6. Grab a strip of prosciutto and lay one end in the middle of the loaf tin. Drape remaining prosciutto over the side until there is about 1-3 inches of extra prosciutto hanging over the edge. Continue with 5 more prosciutto slices until the tin is lined.

7. Shape meatloaf into an oval with your hands, roughly the size of the loaf tin and just pop it in. Pat it down gently to make sure it’s even and top the meatloaf with the 2 remaining prosciutto slices. To make sure this is a fully prosciutto-wrapped meatloaf, fold over those leftover ends.

8. Pour half the glaze over the meatloaf and smooth it over top. Keep the rest of the glaze for halfway through the cooking process. Transfer the loaf tin onto a baking sheet and pop it into an oven preheated to 350°F for about 1 hour. About 30 minutes into the cooking process, brush meatloaf with remaining glaze, and continue to cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

9. Remove meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to slice and serve.

Amanda Riva is the host of The Hot Plate, a free online cooking show dedicated to inspiring culinary confidence in new cooks. The Hot Plate also offers regular cooking tips and advice, how-tos, and information on seasonal ingredients.

Made Easy: Sriracha Chicken Salad Sandwich

I like to call this my “Absent-minded lunch” for those times when I have a million other things going on and don’t have the attention span to keep an eye on the stove. By boiling the chicken breasts, it keeps them juicy unlike grilling or roasting, which can dry-out the bird if you’re not paying attention. This also works for frozen chicken breasts; just toss them into the boiling water and they should be ready in 20 minutes.

I prefer shredding the chicken for a finer texture that’ll keep the meat from falling out (don’t you hate it when cubes of chicken fall out of your sandwich?). Make this the night before for a delicious packed lunch the next day.

Sriracha Chicken Salad Sandwich

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Ingredients:

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 thick slices sandwich bread
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup onion, finely minced*
Chili flakes (optional)

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Directions:

  1. In a pot of boiling water, boil the chicken breast until it is no longer pink in the middle.
  2. Using a fork (and another fork or a pair of tongs to hold down the chicken), shred the chicken into thin threads.
  3. In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken, mayonnaise, Sriracha, and chili flakes together.
  4. Assemble the sandwich. Serve with a side of crudités.

*The key to a good chicken (or tuna) salad is to have a sweet crunch in the mix. If you don’t like onions, you can try for milder green onions or even apples that have been diced into tiny bits.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

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