Many people have a pre-conceived idea that organic meat is expensive. It can be but it doesn't need to be. My rule of thumb is that anything less than $25/kg is pretty good value and the vast majority of the meat I purchase is well under that amount. Occasionally I will buy a prime cut steak that's about $30 or $40 a kilo but that's the exception to the rule. The lesser known cuts (like bones, organ meats, loin chops, chump chops and necks) are typically: (a) cheaper (b) have the bone in which makes them more nutirent-dense as the nutrients come out of the bone when cooking (c) fattier. Yes this is a good thing- and I appreciate it's controversial. Despite what mainstream dietetics would have you believe, saturated fat from wild or grass fed and finished animals is essential for good health. It's needed for a range of functions including strong immunity and proper functioning of the nervous system, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, hormones, cells and brain. It's also needed for mineral absorption, anti-stiffness and joint protection. It provides the most ideal source of fuel for mankind by providing a slow-released steady-state source of energy throughout the day. (d) more flavoursome (because of the bones and higher fat content)
Recently I bought 2 large bags of lamb necks for $9.99/kg (from Kingsleys Meats) and made them into a delicious slow-cooked casserole (befitting of winter). There is white marrow inside the bones which I treat as potent medicine. Here's how I made it:
In an oven-proof casserole dish (eg Le Creuset) or slow cooker throw all of the following ingredients together:
1. lamb necks 2. herbs and spices: chopped up springs of rosemary and diced garlic, plus unrefined salt and pepper 3. liquid: beef stock (preferably home made from pastured cows) to just cover the meat and a splosh of red wine and balsamic vinegar. If you don't have stock just add filtered water and the slow cooking process will create a stock from the bones in the lamb necks.
Stick in 80-120C degrees oven and forget about it for 8-24 hours. The temperature is dependent on length of cooking time (ie 80 degrees Celsius for 24 hours or 120 degrees for 8 hours). With a slow cooker put on the lowest setting.
You could add some vegetables in there too (chopped carrots, green beans, potatoes etc) for a complete meal (one-pot wonder). Otherwise just serve with steamed vegetables or salad separately. Leftover meat can be frozen for later use.
I'll warn you that there is a lot of bone in lamb necks but all of the nutrients in the bone come out during the long slow cooking process and the meat surrounding the bone is very tender. If your family members might freak out by all of the bones then take all of the meat and marrow off the bones before serving. My kids are used to my cave-women 'bones and all' style of eating (and I encourage them to suck, gnaw and chew on the bones to mineralise their body).
If you make this casserole let me know how you go! I'd love to hear what lesser-known / cheaper cuts of meats you buy and how you cook them.
I'll be running an organ meats class in mid July so stay tuned! Happy long weekend!