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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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How to Cook 3 Supercheap and Insanely Delicious Cuts of Lamb

How to Cook 3 Supercheap and Insanely Delicious Cuts of Lamb

Lamb ribs, necks and leg steaks are cheaper and perhaps even more delicious than lamb chops and racks. Here, how to cook these bargain cuts.

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Know Your Meats

Meat Aging: The Great Debate

Meat Aging: The Great Debate

Dry aging, wet aging or no aging? The country's top steak chefs weigh in.

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Know Your Meats

Austin Answers the Ozersky Barbecue Challenge!

Incredible brisket at Austin’s Franklin Barbecue.

Some statements, said in a careless moment, can come back to haunt a man. I read a statement by the former Village Voice food critic Robert Sietsema, who claimed that New York was the best barbecue city in the world—which it is—and I seconded his opinion. This earned me the wrath of Texas, a state I love deeply and even considered moving to… Read more >

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Know Your Meats

Shin Steak for the Win

In this series, expert Josh Ozersky offers a guide to buying, cooking and eating meat, in particular those unusual and obscure cuts that are rarely seen in restaurants.

The Cut: Cross-cut beef shank (#117 foreshank in the National Association of Meat Producers guide). If they called it “shin” instead of “shank” it would make more sense. Because that’s what it is.

The Sell: Beef shank is good, and I eat it a lot, and I like it. It is in the beef “friend zone” though, for sure. Beef shank is familiar to most people as osso buco, at least in its immature form (osso buco is generally a veal shank). And I eat it more than might be expected, given my access to big, high-end steaks and roasts. For one thing, shanks are cheap—for the obvious reason that no one likes them—and secondly, they are available at C-Town supermarket, where they practically qualify as a top-shelf selection. Rather than getting the whole shin, which is the size of a fire extinguisher, I tend to get cross-cut shin steaks. Calling these “steaks” is horribly misleading: They are tough and lean, and if you tried to grill them up you would be disappointed. But the meat has an immense amount of dense muscle tissue, not to mention all that gnarly connective tissue, which is basically instant gelatin.

The How-To: The traditional remedy for tough beef shins is simply to boil—or rather, braise—the hell out of them, disguising the resultant gray leather with broth and hot sauce and so on. This is way too much trouble and not that good anyway. Cut the meat off the shin instead, and grind it coarsely for chili. Beef shin is endowed by its creator with a single purpose, and that purpose is chili. All the things that make it bad as a straight-up eating meat—its tensile strength, its too-beefy flavor, its inaccessibility—serve to make it a secret weapon in things like chili and taco filling and meat sauce, where its textural issues are negated and its flavor enhanced. More importantly, all that tough gristle and collagen will melt, binding up the final dish in a dense, sticky, invisible nimbus of silky mouthfeel. Or you can make osso buco.

Josh Ozersky has written on his carnivorous exploits for Time, Esquire and New York magazines; he has authored several books, including The Hamburger: A History; and he is the founder of the Meatopia food festival.

Related: Best-Ever Meat Recipes
Delicious Chili Recipes
Fantastic Taco Recipes

Know Your Meats

The Most Delicious Cut of Pork You Never Heard Of

End-Cut Rib Pork Chops.

In this series, expert Josh Ozersky offers a guide to buying, cooking and eating meat, in particular those unusual and obscure cuts that are rarely seen in restaurants. 

The Cut: End-cut rib pork chops, as the name implies, are taken from the front end of the rib cage nearest to the animal’s shoulder. Their technical designation in the bible of the meat business, the National Association of Meat Producers guide, is #1410A rib chops.

The Sell: For most of my life, I had a conflicted relationship with pork chops. I loved their golden crescent edges, sickles of the purest and densest pork fat. I loved to gnaw on the bone, too, both for its rugged, toothsome gifts and also for the self-parodic aspects—comic props in the Josh Ozersky Show. However, in between the bone and that rim of lard, I generally found a featureless plain of dry and tasteless meat, a “food desert” if ever there was one.

One day I found some pork chops that had another layer of meat on top of the first; where the chop should have ended was a second thick slab of muscle that was better than the first. I couldn’t understand why this outer piece wasn’t the star of the show. It was like when Hendrix opened for The Monkees. I would later find out that this was none other than the porcine version of the deckle, that precious and obsessed over cap that sits atop rib eye beef steaks. (Rib steaks and rib chops are the same thing, but from different animals.) But whereas serious beef eaters have gotten the memo, pork enthusiasts have not. That ends here. The spinalis muscle’s unique combination of richness, tenderness and firmness outclasses any other muscle by an order of magnitude. And as a bonus, a kind of insider reward, the rhomboideus muscle comes on the bottom of the end cut. Top that, center loin pork chop!

The How-To: Pork chops, unless double cut, rarely achieve that ideal, robust, sizzling browning from a pan or grill. They overcook too fast; the surface buckles against the pan; open flames get one side but not the precious edge; and other misfortunes follow. So predictably, I think they should be fried.

Josh Ozersky has written on his carnivorous exploits for Time, Esquire and New York magazines; he has authored several books, including The Hamburger: A History; and he is the founder of the Meatopia food festival.

Related: 33 Pork Recipes
Best-Ever Recipes for Pork, Beef and Ribs
Best Shops for Cured Meats

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.