With the rising cost of food, it's always nice to find "cheap eats" that are nourishing, sustainable, and affordable. Here are my "meat principles":
- Meat must be raised on pasture
- Meat must be raised on a farm that is farmer-owned
- Meat that meets the criteria above contains healthy fats like CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid, therefore fatty meat is good!
- A little nutrient dense, good-fat laden meat goes a long way!
OK, so with that in mind, here are my top 3 best deals for "Cheap Meats"and a recipe. These recipes are kid-tested and mother-approved!
What: Chicken Skins (Pacific Village)
Where: New Seasons Market
Price: Free (ask the butcher)
I grew up in the south, the land of Fried Chicken, and let's be honest and say what every kid inherently knows to be true: Chicken Skin is the best! I know, I know, I know. Fat is bad. Well, not true! If you want the "Skinny on Fats" look here.
Suffice to say, if you want filling, low-carb snacks that satiate, then try Fried Chicken Skins:
Fried Chicken Skins
1 lb chicken skins (from pasture-raised animals)
Sea Salt to taste
Herbs and Spices of your choosing (organic, MSG-free)
Place Chicken Skins in Skillet. Season with salt and favorite seasonings. Cook on medium until you have "cracklings". Drain on paper towel or wire rack until completely crispy. Eat as is, or serve on top of a green lettuce salad.
What: Beef Liver
Price: $3.00-$5.00 per liver (one liver can go for several meals)
It's amazing what organic, fresh, pasture-raised liver tastes like compared to the alternative. It's night and day! When cooked right, liver is delicious, and I used to vow I would NEVER like liver. For a great article on the benefits of eating liver, go here.
What: Nitrate-Free Bacon "Ends and Pieces"
Where: New Seasons Market
Price: $1.99 per pound!
With nitrate-free, naturally cured bacon clocking in at around $5.99 per pound around town, I was so excited when I recently noticed a bin of "ends and pieces" of bacon. I purchased a pound, and was happy to see that a pound is quite a bit! Half the time, I cut bacon into bite-sized pieces anyway, or I just use the fat when cooking greens. The following recipe incorporates both the liver and the bacon:
The very Best Liver and Onions with Bacon
1/2 a beef liver, cut into strips (cover in lemon juice, and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours)
1 cup of bacon ends and pieces, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced into rings
In a cast iron pan, throw your bacon and onion slinces. Carmelize the onions over medium heat in the bacon fat. When onions are limp and golden, remove them and the bacon to a plate, leaving the bacon fat. Throw in the drained liver strips and fry until brown on all sides. You want them to remain tender. Overcooking will result in tough liver! Serve with the bacon and onions. Enjoy and feel good!
Alternative Option if you (or yours) Liver-phobic:
Follow the recipe above. Take 4 cups of beef or chicken broth and heat to warm. Place liver, onions, and bacon into blender and this makes a lovely soup!
Leftover "Sneaky Liver Rice" A Meal in Itself!!!!
This recipe is in the same spirit as the option above. Place about a cup's worth of leftover liver/bacon/onion combo into the blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of chicken or beef stock or water. Puree the begeebers out of it until it's totally liquid (I use a VitaMix).
Take this 2 cups of liquid and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of brown rice and any additional seasonings (for some ideas, see below) and cook as usual.
Serves 4 adults as a main dish.
*For an Italian dish: Add 2 Tbs prepared pesto to the boiling liver broth. When rice is finished, top with grated parmesan or raw cheddar, carmelized onions and garlic, and some freshly cut flat leaf parsley (or any fresh herbs). This is delicious with pancetta and makes a lovely poor man's "risotto primavera" when you add seasoal veggies such as peas, fava beans, broccoli, and asparagus. My whole family devoured this dish!
*For a Mexican dish: Add 2 TBS of tomato paste to the boiling liver broth, in addition to 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, and 2 tsp dried oregano. You can also add about 1/4 tsp of chili flakes if you like things a little bit spicy. Add two cloves of minced garlic and some sliced green olives (optional) and you will have yourself a very hearty dish. Don't forget to top with fresh cilantro and cotija cheese! I served this to guests (one pregant who couldn't keep anything down!) and got rave reviews.
*For an Indian dish: Add 4 tsp curry powder OR make your own: (1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. Cloves and cardamom are good too!) Toss in some frozen peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking and top with cilantro.
All by itself, any version of Leftover Liver Rice is sure to please and definitely can suffice as a nourishing, complete meal in itself! Just don't tell anyone what was in it until they are finished eating!