Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 25, 2015
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In the last episode of the SNAP Card Gourmet, I wrote about Baa-Baa, a Baby Lamb from Oz whose Ribs I consumed a couple of weeks ago. Those ribs came in at $12.99/lb, which is relatively average up here on the Last Great Frontier for your quality meat cuts, which come in anywhere from a low of around $7.99/lb for Ribeyes when I spy good ones on sale, to about the most I will cough up of around $19.99/lb for some dry aged T-Bones from Matanuska Meats. I have seen some Prime Cuts on the racks for over the $20 mark, but I have yet to cough up that much for a slab of meat.
I’m no longer keeping myself to a SNAP Card budget, but I am inherently a cheapskate, always looking for bargains and trying to eat well while spending as little as possible on this. Since besides being miserly I am also Paleo in diet with MEAT my major food source, I always cruise the meat fridge at 3 Bears & Fred Meyer to see what I can find on the cheap.
Now, if you go to Pork, you can get your prices down about half the usual price for a similar beef cut, but I’m not a huge fan of pork. There is still one cut of Beef you find at prices even cheaper than Pork though, and that is Beef Ribs. The package at the top of the page came in at $2.79/lb, and they came in with quite a decent amount of meat on the bone too!
The upside to Beef Ribs is that they are very tasty and juicy, with a ton of FAT on them. The downside is that knawing it off the bone is tough to do even if you have good teeth, which I don’t anymore. My solution to this problem is twofold.
The first part is to prepare the ribs as I always have, which is to baste with BBQ sauce and grill over the open flame. When the ribs come off the grill and onto the plate, I cut off the larger chunks of meat that I can with fork and knife, and that provides one very nice meal from 3 Ribs.
What is left on the bone (which is still a LOT) goes into the Slow Cooker with the usual suspects of Carrots, Potatoes, Onions and Garlic, and in this case I also added some Brussel Sprouts. You cook for an extra long amount of time at the low setting until the meat left completely falls off the bone, at which point it practically melts in your mouth when you eat it and you almost don’t need any teeth at all!
As Slow Cooker Meat goes, this has it all over the typical package of Stew Meat, which usually comes in around $5.79/lb around here these days. Plus of course you get the added flavor and nutrients from the Bone itself, which you don’t get when just using stew meat. The resulting Stew or Soup (depending on whether you thicken it up or not with some flour) is way richer than one made with stew meat, and in fact unless you are a real fan of FAT, it’s a good idea to chill the resultant liquid and skim off the fat after it cools and solidifies. Sometimes I do this, other times not. If you do leave the fat in there though, just eating a small bowl totally fills you up. Usually I get 2 more full meals from the Rib Bones, for 3 total meals with Meat in them for the astoundingly low price of less than $1.50 for the meat per meal, and under $3/meal including all the veggies and other ingredients to flavor it up. If you added some Rice to this to ladle it over, you could expand it to 4-5 meals easily without upping the cost more than $1.
Easily the BEST cut of meat to use for making your Soups and Stews though is not Ribs, but Oxtails. Tons of tender meat on them as well as tons of flavorful FAT. The problem I have with Oxtails is that they generally come in around $7.29/lb or so these days up here, and because they are not a popular cut of meat you never find them On Sale. For around the same price I often can find good Ribeye Steaks on sale, and in making the choice between an Oxtail Soup and a Flame Broiled Ribeye on the BBQ, the latter choice wins that decision every time at the Meat Fridge.
I have a similar problem as far as buying Fish is concerned, which is at the price that Halibut or Salmon comes in at even here where it is local production, it’s not any cheaper than the Beef I prefer. So usually the only Fish in my diet doesn’t come from the grocery store, but straight from the River. I’m still paying for it of course in the cost of the gas to get to the River, but it does come in a lot cheaper than Beef this way, so Fish is a big part of the Paleo diet as well.
Three other forms of animal protein, Chicken, Lobster and Crab have mostly disappeared from my diet, as I have lost my taste for them for the most part, these days they all seem rather tasteless to me. Not sure if that is a change in me or a change over time in these foods.
So, for at least as long as both are available, Elsie the Cow and Baa-Baa the Baby Lamb are the ones I shop for. Still available here at a price I can afford, and when they are not, I will last on the local Salmon & Moose as long as I can, and then after that take my trip to the Great Beyond after a very nice run as a carnivore through the Age of Oil.