A fancy butcher’s guide to cheap meat and how to cook it

Andrew Dorsey of Marlow and Daughters

Technically that is cheese, yes, but doesn't our meat expert Andrew Dorsey look handsome in this shot? Photo by Rachel DeLetto.

Brokesters may not think of fancy places like Marlow & Daughters when it’s time to buy some meat, but if you know your way around a butcher shop you can get some good stuff (locally sourced, grass-fed) without paying weygu prices. There are some cuts out there that are the carnivore’s equivalent to the Contra cheat code, I know for a fact, and I was determined to find them when I sat down with Andrew Dorsey, senior butcher for Marlow & Daughters. Here’s what I found out:

What’s your favorite cut of meat?
I like a good piece of dry aged beef, but I eat a lot of chicken legs. My girlfriend really likes this thing I call kimchee chicken. I roast chicken legs and thighs halfway, get them crispy on one side, put them off to the side, and then roast some vegetables in a pan, then throw in a jar of kimchee, then put the thighs back on top and let it all finish cooking together, keeping the skin on the chicken crispy, making it spicy, funky. I have a horrible kimchee addiction.

What are some of the best deals in a butcher store?
What we call a Delmonico steak is still the same muscle grouping that makes up the rib-eye, just found in the first three through fifth ribs. We’ll take that and dry age it and sell it for almost half the price of the rib-eye, so that’s a really nice full-flavored cut of beef for a relatively much lower price.

What’s the cheapest cut of meat you guys offer?
As far as beef, the pieces with the bone-in are going to have a lower price per pound. Some people like to buy stuff that’s pretty much fifty-fifty bone to meat cause it gives whatever they’re cooking a lot more flavor for braises and stuff like that. Our boneless, skinless chicken breast is also a deal but it’s kind of a bummer. It might not have as much fat or calories or whatever, but it’s just a sad, sad piece of meat.

Marlow and Daughter's chicken wings

Chicken wings: the most bang for your bock. Photo by Rachel DeLetto.

Couldn’t agree more. So factoring in bone, what comes out to the best deal in the store?
Chicken wings. Yeah, we sell chicken wings for like $2.75. For like five dollars you get like, a dozen chicken wings, if not more.

Sure, because the dark meat and the nearby bone add more flavor, as opposed to the chicken breast. How do you cook chicken wings at home?
I like to gently roast them one night at around 300, just ‘til they’re cooked through and rendered some of the fat, then let them cool and forget about them and put them in the fridge. Then, the next day you crisp them in a pan. You can use barbecue sauce (I prefer a Japanese sauce called Tare). You put these cold, fully cooked chicken wings into a hot pan and render out some fat. Crisp them up in the pan, then hit them with a little bit of the Tare sauce to coat them. Then maybe you throw in a little bit of butter to give them a little bit of gloss.

So now that spring is right around the corner, what would you say are some of the best deals for having a barbecue with some friends?
The general and slightly unattractive term would be flapmeat, so that includes your flank steak, your bavette steak your hangar steak, and your skirt steak. Those are all great quick-cooking, flavorful and inexpensive meats that take on a marinade well if you want to do that, or you can slice up a bunch and put them on a platter.

What would you say is the most criminally underrated cut of meat in the butcher’s window?

Beef heart. Beef hearts like super steak. If you come in and ask us to trim up a beef heart for you to grill or cook, its amazingly flavorful, and it’s not a filter. It’s not processing things, its just a muscle, the hardest working muscle you have, so the muscle fiber’s really dense, but not in an overtly chewy way. It can be grilled, seared really hard, served rare, and sliced thin. With some marrow butter or compound butter on top of it, it’s just amazing.

And what would you say is the best cut to prepare for a big gathering?

Get like, an entire top round (11.99/lb) and marinate it overnight. We like to do this for our roast beef, we like to marinade it in some Dijon, mustard, some herbs like thyme and rosemary, some garlic, and let that hang out. Heavily season it, salt and pepper, rub it with the Dijon, herbs and garlic, let that sit overnight absorb those flavors, then roast at 375 degrees to around 100-110 in the center, and then slice it really thin and you’ve got gorgeous roast beef.

So there you have it Brooklyn, you can have your meat pie and eat it, too. All you have to do is remember that chicken wings, giant roasts of meat, flap-meat, and beef hearts are all good ways to visit the butcher shop and still have money to go out drinking later. And don’t buy the boneless, skinless chicken breast. It just makes your butcher sad.