For his luscious chili, Michael Symon uses incredibly flavorful and succulent pork cheeks—an unusual cut worth seeking out. If pork cheeks aren't available, also-affordable pork shoulder (cut into 2-inch pieces) can be substituted.
Lamb shanks are great for dinner parties because they are affordable and dramatic, and Tanya Cauthen of Belmont Butchery in Richmond, Virginia, likes flavoring this supremely tender braised lamb with a North African spice blend that includes cumin and fennel seeds.
Melissa Rubel combines roasted almonds, parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for a nutty, fresh-tasting and affordable pesto. This pasta dish is terrific served warm, but it can also be refrigerated and served as a cold pasta salad.
With lesser-known cuts of beef, like hanger steaks, the cost is less but the technique really matters. Bruce Sherman, chef at Chicago’s North Pond and an F&W Best New Chef 2003, spent more than three years living in India. He uses spices from the Malabar Coast, a region in the southwestern part of the country, to form the crispy crust for his hanger steaks.