Cheap way out of the roast rut

Staff WriterOctober 27, 2010 

Have you wondered what to do with ox tails? Pork shoulder? Lamb shanks? These cheaper, tougher cuts of meat might be beckoning from the meat case as more of us struggle to put dinner on the table with less money in our pockets.

That's where Chapel Hill cookbook author Jean Anderson can help. Her new book, "Falling off the Bone," is devoted to transforming those less popular cuts of beef, veal, lamb and pork into delicious meals.

"I've always thought that these cuts are much more flavorful - and more versatile," she says. "I mean, what can you do with a steak?"

Anderson, author of "A Love Affair with Southern Cooking," has written more than 20 cookbooks and been inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Cookbook Hall of Fame. She has several upcoming book readings around the Triangle. The Raleigh native says she has long wanted to write a book devoted to the cuts of meat that she ate as a child during World War II.

Several of the recipes are from her family, including her grandmother's hearty beef and vegetable soup and her mother's Austrian goulash that Anderson adapted for the slow cooker.

Anderson would like to see us break out of what she sees as our steak, roast or burger rut. Why stick to those stand-bys when you can turn lamb shoulder into spicy lamb hot pot or pork shanks into ossobuco?

"I think people have this idea that these are complicated, but that couldn't be further from the truth," she says.

For the book, Anderson adapted several classic recipes for the slow cooker, from beef bourguignon to blanquette de veau, a white French veal stew. Many recipes call for baby carrots or pre-sliced mushrooms or for using the food processor to quickly chop vegetables. All but two of the recipes make up to six servings, which means leftovers can be frozen for quick mid-week meals.

"The best thing about these slow simmering things is they fill the house with aromas," she says.

That makes these meats an even better deal.

andrea.weigl@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4848

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