Guide: Camas Davis
A Cut Above
The founder of Portland Meat Collective, a modern butchery school, reveals four budget cuts with luxurious flavor.
This underutilized cut from the top of the pork shoulder, behind the neck, is best known in its cured form, with marbling that melts in your mouth. Daring gastronauts can do a simple salt cure for a DIY charcuterie plate, but Davis recommends having your butcher roll and tie it; then braise it in milk, fennel, and aromatics for an unbeatably juicy roast.
2. Boneless beef ribs
These “faux ribs” are actually strips of meat cut from the chuck-eye roll. Davis opts for a simple Chinese barbecue at home: “Throw them into a Dutch oven or a Crock-Pot with ketchup, five-spice, rice vinegar, Korean chile flakes, onions, garlic, ginger, and water. It’s much cheaper than ‘rib ribs,’ but just as good.”
3. Denver Steak
Cut from the chuck, this increasingly popular steak is ideal for grilling, with tons of fatty striation and a powerful beefy flavor. Davis loves to marinate Denvers in an “enzymatic marinade”—acids like kiwi, vinegar, wine, even yogurt—to tenderize and infuse flavor before browning the meat.
4. Lamb Neck
“Lambs spend all day grazing, which gives their necks a muscular, concentrated flavor. On the bone, lamb neck makes amazing broths and fabulous braises for Middle Eastern feasts,” Davis says. You can also ask your butcher to bone out the neck for a flat piece of meat; roll cumin, fresh herbs, and pork sausage inside it for a unique roast.
HOT TIP: Call your butcher at least a day ahead to ensure they have the cut in stock, and to give them time to prepare it.
HOW TO: Grill grass-fed
Eyes on the Prize
Pasture-raised beef has its advantages, but it’s a challenge to cook correctly. Expert Lynne Curry shares three grilling tips from her book Pure Beef to keep your bovine investments perfectly juicy.
Because the animal works harder and is slaughtered at an older age than grain-fed cattle, grass-fed beef is less fatty. Less fat means more heat sensitivity. Curry recommends using a thermometer and a timer. And whether you’re a pit master or a first-timer, she warns you to never walk away from the grill.
Go by Temp
Because of its diet, grass-fed beef retains a redder color than normal steak, so gauge doneness by temperature (130 degrees for medium-rare) rather than color.
Easy Does It
Sustained high heat is the enemy of these lean steaks. Keep your steak over high heat for no more than 3 ½ minutes for a good char, then move it to an indirect heat source until cooked to desired doneness.