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Learning to love cheap cuts of meat...  RSS feed

 
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I have challenged myself to learn some new recipes, aiming for about 1 per week, and I'll probably be focusing on cheaper cuts of meats but not necessarily. (not cheap low quality meat, just the less desirable cuts). This is branching out for me, as lots of the good recipes for these involve long slow cooking, making stocks and generally preparing longer in advance than I tend to!

Some limitations - I can't eat any alliums, so none of these recipes will have onions, garlic, leeks etc... Many printed recipes call for these, so I'm experimenting slightly as I go.

Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks
Not a cheap cut, but I was cooking for a special occasion - feeding the inlaws. This was cooked for ages but only took about 20 minute preparation time in all.


(Not my picture but this is pretty much how it came out - lots of liquid and a fabulous rich umami flavour

4 lamb shanks
Celery
Mushrooms
Carrots
Half a bottle of red wine (cheap!)
Some lard for frying
A big bundle of fresh herbs (mostly rosemary, thyme)
2 stock cubes (or proper stock)

Fry the shanks on a high heat in a heavy cast iron pot to seal and brown them.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and throw in chopped celery, carrots, herbs and two stock cubes.
Add water to cover the meat.
Bring to the boil
Put the lid on the place the pot in the oven on a low heat (160C) and leave it for ages. 3 hours is great but it isn't hurt at all by cooking for a lot longer at say 140C. Check the liquid levels occasionally.
Finally, 20 minutes before serving throw in the whole mushrooms on top. You want them to cook but not disappear into the liquid as mush.
Serve with mashed potatoes or similar.

The meat should be deliciously tender and fall apart from the bone. Any remaining juices made a fabulous soup for the following lunch. As an optional extra, you can reduce the liquid down by uncovering the lid in the final stages of cooking to make a thicker, richer sauce.

Next up - steak and kidney pie!
 
pollinator
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Americans don't eat meat pie like other parts of the world, and I've yet to try it, but am sure tempted! Not knowing what it's supposed to turn out like has been my stopping point!

This week I'm making corned beef, in honor of St. Patrick's Day next week (tho I hear corned beef isn't even irish?) Very easy to make the brine and soak the meat in it all week. I'm going to try it with beef round sometime because once cooled it slices so nicely for sandwiches. Once brined we cook it in beer, malt vinegar, mustard, dill, pepper, caraway, and coriander with carrots, onions, potatoes, and cabbage. I use Michael Ruhlman's recipe for the brine from his book Charcuterie (http://ruhlman.com/2010/03/corned-beef-how-to-cure-your-own/ here's his write-up with the recipe), but the cooking instructions from the 1995 Sunset Recipe Annual cookbook.
 
pollinator
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i agree that making meat go further can be a real fun way to cook..I'm finding that where I used to use an entire package of meat with one meal, now i can generally make a package last 2 or 3 meals with a little creativity..and actually we seem to enjoy it better.

I'm using odds and ends of meat that i wouldn't normally think of using in the ways I am..like say (i cook for 3)..pulling 3 hot dogs out of a package of frozen..and cut them up and use them in a dish..say macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatos, beans, bean soup, etc.. OR cut a 1/2 a large sausage up and do it the same way..

I also find if you brown the meat well it has more flavor and it makes the meat go farther cause there is more meat flavor.

soups are a really good way to extend meat, or stews, or meat sauces for pasta..or just a bit in a grilled cheese sandwich or in some eggs..
 
Brenda Groth
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Renate, I made a lovely chicken pot pie recipe last week..i dont' measure or write things down but this is about how I did it..first i microwaved a few potatoes to nearly done and cut them up into cubes..then i put a bunch of onion and garlic with butter in a large skillet and sweated them out, then added vegetables (I put in mixed frozen) and flour and stirred to make a rue and then put in some broth until I got a good gravey consistancy...salt pepper and herbs were added with the flour..I almost forgot that.

i put this into 3 individual casserole dishes but any dish would do..and i topped it with pie crust rounds..baked 350 for about 35 min until the crust began to brown..
 
steward
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Crock pots, and pressure cookers are both excellent ways to utilize the cheaper cuts of meat.
Two methods to render tougher meats into tender meals.

The slow cookers work by slow simmering for hours, which makes the meats more tender.
Pressure cookers achieve the same results by using the opposite approach.
Higher heat turns the liquid into pressurized steam which penetrates the tough meat.

Almost any used book store will have books devoted to these two styles of cooking.

Crock pots can often be started in the morning, then left on low all day.
Stew is ready when you get home from work.

Pressure cookers are quick. From start to finish, a pot of beans will take about an hour.
 
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We are lucky to have a Mexican butcher shop in town--lots of cheaper cuts there including tongue, tripe, and for the less adventurous, carne asada, which is (I think) flank steak cut on the bias, very very thin. At any rate it's a tough and tasty cut and a little goes a long way. Each year I use it to make bracciole for our housemate on his birthday. He's from a Sicilian family in New Jersey and finds it hard to get that kind of home cooking in Bellingham. It's a good one to make in quantity and freeze. There are lots of fancier recipes, with prosciutto and other treats, but Robert says this is the most like his grandmother's.

(If you're a Jersey Sicilian you pronounce it bro-zhole and you call the spaghetti sauce gravy.)

The carne asada is so thin it is stretchy, so when you roll it up with around a filling it kind of seals itself together.

Ingredients
3 lbs carne asada (or round steak, sliced sandwich thin)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped garlic
2 cups fresh parsley
1 cup grated romano cheese
olive oil
Your favorite spaghetti sauce--maybe a quart of it?

Mix the garlic, salt and pepper, parsley and romano cheese together.
Put a teaspoonful or two of mixture onto each steak.
Roll up and secure with toothpick.
Brown in heated olive oil.
Add spaghetti sauce and simmer 30-40 minutes.

This serves a crowd. We had eight well-feed people last time, plus a bunch of leftovers.
 
pollinator
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I have heard of flank steak but can't say I have ever seen it in the store.  I do see skirt steak which I assume is really tough for steak or they sell what they call carnita which I would say is the pork equivalent to beef skirt steak.  I used to buy carnita and make stew or gumbo out of it.

So for meat I think is going to be tough I will use the crockpot or pressure cooker.  I make Swiss steak or Salisbury steak.

Speaking of meat pies this is something I want to try.  I make shepherd (or cottage) pie using Rachel Ray's recipe.

I make a lot of soup and stews. Today I am having soup made from the stock off the ham I cooked for Thanksgiving.
 
pollinator
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I make a lot of curries and some soups. Cheap cuts of meat work great for these dishes and I really can't tell any difference between using a cheap cut versus a more expensive one.
 
garden master
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We pretty much just eat the cheap cuts of meat, especially when they're in the discount section. $4.50 for a pound of grass fed meat? Sold!

We usually end up finding "Eye of Round" cuts. They're circles of meat with connective tissue surrounding them. We fry them up like a steak and they are quite yummy. Sometimes the connective tissue is too thick to eat, so we cut it off and either (1) feed it to the cats (2) Put it in the broth bucket in the freezer to make broth later, or (3) Put it in the meat trash bucket in the freezer. Once the meat trash bucket is full, we bury the meat next to a tree to give it some extra nutrients. The trees seem to love it!
 
pollinator
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I really like flank and skirt steak, one of my favorites. They come from the "chest" area in between the front legs of a cow, near the brisket. I grill them, and then slice thin on a bias perpendicular to the grain. It's a great cut of meat for tacos.
 
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I have started buying much of my meat by the whole or half of the animal.  I picked up a great cook book to use various organ meats and less common parts of the animal.

Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan has been very useful in expanding my cooking skills. 
https://smile.amazon.com/Odd-Bits-Cook-Rest-Animal-ebook/dp/B004J4X7FS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511638022&sr=8-1&keywords=odd+bits

When I make chili I add pureed beef liver to the ground beef in a 4 to 1 ratio.  A spicy chili is a good place to hide liver. 

I make and pressure can bone broth from the bones to use in soups, gravies, and to cook rice in. 

I make lots of stews, pulled pork, soups, pot roast, and other slow cooked comfort food to use lower cost cuts. 

 
pollinator
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My Grandmother grew up in the depression and her mother was a widow with (5) daughters so they got by on handouts...and not great ones. She could roast beef heart in milk that was to DIE FOR. In any case she passed on that love of crazy meats that I adore. I love beef tongue, lamb cheeks, and yes beef heart. I still like liver, and a dozen other cuts that kids today did not even know was possible to eat. We butcher our own so NOTHING gets wasted.

Beef tongue slow roasted can pass as pulled pork if you baste it heavily in barbecue sauce.

My first wife lived along the coast and her parents owned a lobster pound so we were adventurous in seafood too. I tried Tuna Eye one time, and have a picture of it in case people do not believe me, but for the sake of the skeemish will refrain from posting it, but lest anyone think I am buffaloing them, I am prepared to back up my statement with pictures!

A lot of times the secret is low and slow: whether it is in a crock pot or smoked.
 
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I'm with you, Travis. I grew up on all those cheap meats and actually love them to this day.
...chicken necks & gravy over rice
...beef tongue
...chicken gizzards & hearts
...chicken back stew
...fish head chowder
...pig (or beef or lamb) head soup (the head was cut up in chunks)
...pigs feet
...fried pork skin
...ox tail soup
...beef and lamb shanks
...beef heart

Mom would often take all the trimmings, skin, and leftover meats and cook them into a thick, extremely tasty gravy sort of concoction that we ate over bread. Extremely yummy comfort food. The only two cheap foods I never learned to like were kidney and liver, though I loved chicken livers. A steak, chops, or roast was reserved for a special holiday, like Christmas. We were allowed to make suggestions for our birthday supper as kids. I always chose chicken gizzards, obviously my number favorite.

Nowadays I raise my own meat so we use everything. Nothing gets wasted, ever!
 
Anne Miller
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Su Ba wrote:I'm with you, Travis. I grew up on all those cheap meats and actually love them to this day.
...chicken necks & gravy over rice
...beef tongue
...chicken gizzards & hearts
...chicken back stew
...fish head chowder
...pig (or beef or lamb) head soup (the head was cut up in chunks)
...pigs feet
...fried pork skin
...ox tail soup
...beef and lamb shanks
...beef heart

Mom would often take all the trimmings, skin, and leftover meats and cook them into a thick, extremely tasty gravy sort of concoction that we ate over bread. Extremely yummy comfort food. The only two cheap foods I never learned to like were kidney and liver, though I loved chicken livers. A steak, chops, or roast was reserved for a special holiday, like Christmas. We were allowed to make suggestions for our birthday supper as kids. I always chose chicken gizzards, obviously my number favorite.

Nowadays I raise my own meat so we use everything. Nothing gets wasted, ever!


I haven't seen any of these in the grocery store in many years or never.

I sometimes buy whole chickens but only if they are really cheap, usually I can get 10 lbs of leg quarters cheaper.

I had a friend in elementary school whose father was a butcher so she brought tongue sandwiches for lunch everyday.

When we used to go fishing on the charter boats, the Asian ladies would be waiting for the fish heads for free.
 
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Su, you mentioned Ox Tail Soup. That cut,when well browned has to has to add the richest, deepest beef flavor to a stew I've ever tasted.  It's too bad that it can be considered a cheap cut of meat , at least where I live.
When I worked at the Universty of Maine, I brought a pot of Ox Tail Soup. It was one of my finest ever. 
  Still, there were two guys that refused to try it.. I believe their words were close to......" I'm not eating a soup made from something a cow has to lift up to ( blank)".  Too bad. A couple of guys even too home the leftovers.    Larry.  Ps. My grandma used to mike something she called " hog jelly" out of pigs feet. When she passed away , that woman took a treasure trove of depression era recipes with her. I wish I'd picked her brain more .... God I miss my grandmother.  Lol
 
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Anne Miller wrote:I have heard of flank steak but can't say I have ever seen it in the store.  I do see skirt steak which I assume is really tough for steak


I used to be a meatcutter in an earlier life.
Skirt steak I would guess IS the flank steak.
Now...  the skirt is actually the diaphram and there is not much muscle on it... mostly fat and connective tissue.  
The flank steak comes from the stomach muscle, between the ribs and hip  (NOTE: there IS a muscle in one of the stomachs.  This is NOT that.)  and lays inside the cavity along the belly.  It is a tough cut, and stringy, as it is a very strong muscle.

Nicole Alderman wrote:We pretty much just eat the cheap cuts of meat, especially when they're in the discount section. $4.50 for a pound of grass fed meat? Sold!

We usually end up finding "Eye of Round" cuts. They're circles of meat with connective tissue surrounding them. We fry them up like a steak and they are quite yummy. !


$4.50 is NOT cheap but it is amazing how expensive beef has gotten buying by the cut.    Up here, we can still get a side cut/wrapped for under $4.00/lb.

James Freyr wrote:I really like flank and skirt steak, one of my favorites. They come from the "chest" area in between the front legs of a cow, near the brisket. I grill them, and then slice thin on a bias perpendicular to the grain. It's a great cut of meat for tacos.


see my comments above regarding the "Flank"  
you may be confusing the Brisket or Plate with the flank...  the brisket is the equivalent of our pectoral muscle IIRC.  The flank is definitely from the hind quarter.

Su Ba wrote:I'm with you, Travis. I grew up on all those cheap meats and actually love them to this day.
...chicken necks & gravy over rice
...beef tongue
...chicken gizzards & hearts
...chicken back stew
...fish head chowder
...pig (or beef or lamb) head soup (the head was cut up in chunks)
...pigs feet
...fried pork skin
...ox tail soup
...beef and lamb shanks
...beef heart



Wow!  Necks, Gizzards, Hearts, Backs of chicken are more expensive than Drums and Thighs up here.....   crazy.

 
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We occasionally buy half a pig's head which usually just fits into my large slow cooker.  After the flesh falls off the bones, I remove it and use it in pulled pork type recipes, or even make headcheese (which we call pork jelly, aka jello).  I generally give the cooked skin to my chickens, but reserve the fat for ourselves, and of course the cooking liquid which is full of gelatin.

I also really like to render my own beef fat in my slow cooker;  I obtain it free from the same butcher (he charges just £1 for the half head).  We eat the resulting beef "crackling" with salt like popcorn:  yum.  If any's left the next day, I'll toss it in dinner.  I made some last night and the husband and I just stood in the kitchen and ate it down piece by piece--too bad the seven year old was in bed;  he missed a tasty treat.  I use the rendered fat for sauteeing, pie crust/baked goods, and also in scrambled eggs.
 
Brad Hengen
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Galadriel Freden wrote:We occasionally buy half a pig's head .... the same butcher ... charges just £1 for the half head. 


about how much meat do you get off the head?

do you include the gristle?

My gramma make head cheese and chopped up the nose and ears.  (kinda grossed us out as kids....   imagine being given a nostril to eat!)

And does the flavour change due to it being from the head?
I notice belly tasted different than loin, and that tastes different than shoulder.
 
gardener
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When I was 9 years old, my dad and uncle butchered two cattle, and I decided that we should not waste the perfectly good meat, of the jaw muscles. I skinned those heads and salvaged the toughest meat I have ever eaten.

Slow cooking, is the obvious way, but there's also much to be said, in favor of spicing the meat and allowing it to sit. I like to use plenty of pepper, on particularly tough cuts. I've also included lemon and I've used pineapple. Meat that is soaked in the juices and spice, becomes more tender, no matter how it's cooked.
 
pollinator
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Galadriel Freden wrote:
I also really like to render my own beef fat in my slow cooker;  ...


I want to try making pemmican, but not knowing how to render the fat is keeping me from trying it.  Could you explain how you do this?
 
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I am loving the cheap cuts, personally. I only rarely buy meat from the supermarket any more, and when I do, its usually the "50% off, enjoy tonight" grass-fed organic cuts, and then I take whatever they have.

I love going to the butcher. I love organ meat, sweetbreads, everything. Chicken necks, gizzards, hearts, all these were staples, served over mashed potatoes in gravy. Beef and pork tongue were introduced to me at an early age as delicacies. Braised low and slow in broth with onions and garlic, roasted veggies, little bit of bearnaise or bechamel...

That's one of the sad things about buying meat on the hoof; only one tongue!

-CK

Edit: Oh, and rendering fat is easy, especially in a slow cooker. Just add your fat, cook it slowly until it all liquifies, and strain out the solids. I pour it off for storage into mason jars while its still hot enough for canning.
 
Brad Hengen
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Dale Hodgins wrote:When I was 9 years old, my dad and uncle butchered two cattle, and I decided that we should not waste the perfectly good meat, of the jaw muscles. I skinned those heads and salvaged the toughest meat I have ever eaten.



I worked at an abattoir and the butcher said the deal was he gets what ever the animal's owner doesn't want.  So he had lots of livers, tongues, hearts...

as well, he showed me the jowls..   probably 3 lbs of meat there, went into his sausage, so was worth $9.00 that would have been discarded by the rancher had they butchered themselves.
also, the muscle lining of one of the stomachs.  ( I can't remember which one ) It provided about 8lbs of meat and went into sausage.  Another $24
Then the offals.   Probably got $70 above the charge for butchering.

a local colony came for the guts for chicken feed.  for that, he got free chickens for himself.
a local tannery took the head and hide, what was left.  I think they gave him $20 per hide.

 
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Growing up, one side of my family had a farm with livestock, and processed everything on site.... very old fashioned.  The other side had a grocery store, with a real, old fashioned butcher.  I grew up on organ meats, tough cuts and old meat...  When meat was too funky to sell in the store, it was often washed down with vinegar and brought home.  In all honesty, those "off cuts" were far better than premium cuts available I stores these days.  Now a'days, there are very few real butchers.  Mets come in from factories and very little real meat cutting is done.  The local Piggly Wiggly still breaks down  primals, at least, and cuts their own steaks.  I make a point of getting to know the butchers - talking family and food.  I went in for a pork butt last week and got one trimmed and boned out for the same sale price as un-trimmed, so I got about 1/3rd more meat for the same price.  They often save soup bones for me, and charge me little or nothing.    I smoked it for 10 hours over live hickory coals... real NC barbecue!.  They are good folks, who doo the best they can with what they are provided.  I grew up on aged and hung meat, so store meat really doesn't appeal.  The fancier things seem to get, the worse the flavor.  As for organ meats... well, I love them!  I my family, we made "liver pudding", various boudins, black puddings,  head cheese, souse meat, liver and onions was served often, hearts, brains.... I still attend the Highland Games and Robert Burns suppers just for haggis and when I'm in the southwest, I seek out brain tacos!  We had home cured hams, bacon, fatback, jowls, tasso, "Tom Thumb" etc, etc.  I grew up loving pates and every kind of sausage imaginable.  I feel very grateful for my old south culture, French and British heritage and that I grew up catering to Jewish, Italian, German and rural black and indian (native American) folks.  I've probably had every kind of "trash fish" roe and liver imaginable... and absolutely freakin' loved them all!  These days, most times,  I can't find the flavors I want in stores.  I eat mostly wild fish and game, preparing and preserving using 200+ year old recipes.  I eat a lot of turtle and frog legs, shad roe, crawfish, beaver, coon, crow.... etc, etc.  I slow cook lower cuts of pork and beef, goats and deer...  I stop into Hispanic and Asian markets looking for tongue, tripe and feet.  Frankly, I eat like a king... for pennies.  My traps, nets, gigs, snares, etc feed me.   Sometimes, I get paid to trap wild hogs, beavers, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, coon, etc... That is better than free food, but free food is all around us!  There are ways to prepare snake, possum and even armadillo that are sanitary, safe and better than any meat you can buy in anything but the finest restaurant... if, even then.  As for the "lower" cuts of beef... I only wish they were easier to find.  If you follow George Leonard Herter's advice for preparing what was called, then, "economy grade" beef, you will not find a more flavorful steak.  Give me tripe or give me death! Give me "mannish water".  Don't waste that calf's foot or pig's ear!  Upton Sinclair be damned!  I want raw milk and livestock raised killed and processed on the same site!  Until I can have what my ancestors fought for and even took for granted, I'll eat mostly wild.
 
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My family made "boudin" (blood pudding) with cheap cuts. With fresh bread and a bit of molasses... yum!!!

Traditionally it's made with pork. I add some beef and use beef blood because it's half the price of pork blood. I don't bother with casings, too much trouble but I miss the texture of tripe. My mother would split a coil lengthwise and broil it in the oven until the smoke detector complained. She liked it crisp
 
Wj Carroll
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Francis Mallet wrote:My family made "boudin" (blood pudding) with cheap cuts. With fresh bread and a bit of molasses... yum!!!

Traditionally it's made with pork. I add some beef and use beef blood because it's half the price of pork blood. I don't bother with casings, too much trouble but I miss the texture of tripe. My mother would split a coil lengthwise and broil it in the oven until the smoke detector complained. She liked it crisp


My French great grandfather mad boudin noir (blood sausage) and boudin blanc (which is like a chitlin' sausage... kind of?..... hard t describe).  We also had Acadians in the family, some of whom migrated to Louisiana, and there was a lot of recipe sharing.  Cajun boudin is made from pork meat, liver and rice, heavily spiced... truly awesome stuff!
 
Su Ba
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I forgot about tripe. Tripe soup and tripe stew are excellent. Gee, I haven't had them for ages and ages.
 
Wj Carroll
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Su Ba wrote:I forgot about tripe. Tripe soup and tripe stew are excellent. Gee, I haven't had them for ages and ages.


I always enjoyed tripe... much more than chitin's....  Walter Staib has a great show called Taste of History.  He focuses exclusively on colonial era reccipes.  Apparently, the original Parker House was known for its tripe, as opposed to its dinner rolls, by the founders.  His recipe, and it is excellent, uses a big bean pot..  I think a Boston baked been style pot would be best, but I'm sure cast iron or a large casserole would be fine. Tripe is layered with onions, white wine and mustard, then slow cooked for hours until tender.   It is served with cream, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
 
Wj Carroll
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This lady could cook!  
 
Anne Miller
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Francis Mallet wrote:My family made "boudin" (blood pudding) with cheap cuts. With fresh bread and a bit of molasses... yum!!!

Traditionally it's made with pork. I add some beef and use beef blood because it's half the price of pork blood. I don't bother with casings, too much trouble but I miss the texture of tripe. My mother would split a coil lengthwise and broil it in the oven until the smoke detector complained. She liked it crisp


The is a bakery in West, Tx that sells Boudin Rolls. A roll stuffed with boudin.   Funny thing when I looked at the ingredients on the bakery's package they don't contain any meat.   I am planning to make a version of these today.

My understanding of Boudin is that it is pork cooked with liver, onions and rice with some seasonings then after it is cooked it is ground and put into casings.

I never heard it called blood sausage. So I looked it up and yes some are.  There are several different varieties, probably based on culture.

 
Francis Mallet
Posts: 36
Location: acadian peninsula, New Brunswick, Canada
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If you ask for boudin around here you'll get the black one with blood. You can get it in a casing (boudin en tresse, boudin en tripe) or not (boudin en sauce).
What we call tripe is actually intestine, not stomach. I know there is boudin noir (black) and boudin blanc (white) but I've never seen the white one.
My father tells me they would put pretty much everything in there (liver, lungs, fat, etc) but nowadays it's rather tame, made with meat, fat and blood.

Everybody has their own recipe but the common link is cloves. Here is mine:

12 lb pork (feet, stuff with skin and bones, etc)
5 lb beef (stuff with bones, I like shank)
6 lb onions quartered

cover with water, add a palm of salt, black pepper, several bay leaves and two sticks of cinnamon (not traditional but I like it)
cook on low heat for a full day (low heat dissolves collagen)

Prepare the binder by mixing
2.2 lb white flour
50g salt
30g black pepper
25g ground cloves

The next morning the pots are still warm,
filter the broth and reserve 10lb of it.
debone the meat in a large pan with another 4 lb of onions (quartered), grind
put the meat in a 5 gallon bucket, mix in 5 lb of cold blood
add the warm broth
add the binder and mix thoroughly
adjust to taste (yeah, it's still raw)
put in deep pans and cook at 350F for two hours, scraping the bottom and sides every 30-45 mins because it will stick

I make this at work where I have access to a large oven. I mix imperial and metric units all the time, sorry if it's confusing. All quantities are approximate, tasting before cooking is important.
 
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