Cuts are on everyone’s menu these days – but top chef Steve Vardy has some in mind which could even save you money...
With a bit of skill, there are cuts of meat which let you eat well without having to tighten your belt in the lean times.
Ham hock, oxtail, shin beef, shoulder of lamb and knuckle of veal – some of the cheapest meat you can buy – can be souped up into delicious dishes with just a little culinary wizardry.
“Ham hocks are a very good price,” said Steve, Head of School at Taste Tideswell, the Lottery-backed project which aims to use food to beef up the village’s economy.
In his spotless and modern teaching kitchen in the heart of Tideswell, he demonstrated how two ham hocks – which could cost between £3 and £5 altogether, could be turned into a nutritious soup, a gourmet supper and a delicious terrine.
Cheap doesn’t mean tasteless. The meat delicately arranged on Steve’s creamy mashed potatoes – as far from anything you suffered at school as a half of mild is from a glass of champagne – plus a princely parsley sauce was fit for a top restaurant. After all, Gordon Ramsay’s signature dish for a long time was cappucino of haricot – bean soup to you and me.
Stock from the hock with green lentils made a warming soup, and the terrine – ham pressed with fresh parsley until it is strong enough to slice – would have made at least eight portions as a starter with salad, or a stack of sandwiches.
But Steve, who taught generations of chefs at the former High Peak College in Buxton, is doing more than just dishing up money-saving tips.
He and the team at Taste Tideswell in The Courtyard are on a mission to use food as the ingredient which will boost tourism in the area, improve local people’s business skills and save shops.