Less meat, more dough

Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released last week showed that beef and bacon prices are at an all-time high. That seems particularly sad during the summer, peak season for burgers and steaks, not to mention BLTs.

Don’t despair. There are a couple of ways to enjoy your meat without killing your budget.

First, look for cuts that are naturally less expensive. Pass over the steakhouse steaks — the New York strips, the rib-eyes, the tenderloins — and reach for cuts like the flatiron steak (a personal favorite), flank steaks and skirt steaks. These aren’t as tender as the steakhouse favorites, but they’re not as expensive, either. And to be honest, they’re easier on whoever is manning the grill at your house. One or two of these steaks (about 11/2 pounds each) can feed a family well, without the cook having to manage individual steaks for everyone. With these less expensive cuts, you’ll want to marinade them to help make them nice and tender. Check out my favorite marinade recipes below.

Second, cut the portion size. We don’t need a 12-ounce steak for dinner. Really, we don’t. Use one of the steaks above or go for a great steakhouse steak but plan on serving three to four ounces per person. Thinly slice the steaks and serve them atop a salad of arugula or spinach or over rice with lots of summer vegetables. Or stretch your beef budget by making kebabs. Alternate sirloin cubes with colorful bell pepper and red onion pieces.

VeggiesFinally, increase your veggie nights. So many vegetables are in season right now that it’s simple — and cheap — to make vegetables the star. How about a salad of grilled zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers with crumbled gorgonzola or goat cheese and grilled slices of artisan bread on the side? Or how about portobello mushroom burgers?

As for the BLT, there’s just no substituting for the real deal, so bite the bullet and use real bacon. But remember that fresh from the farmers market (or even better, backyard) tomatoes are so packed with flavor that just a couple of slices of bacon are plenty.

ALL-PURPOSE BEEF MARINADE

Makes enough for 11/2 to 2 pounds of beef

This is my go-to recipe for meat. It adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat a bit, too.

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a shallow dish or zipper-top plastic bag. Add beef. Turn to coat. Leave at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour or refrigerate up to 8 hours.

ROSEMARY-OLIVE OIL MARINADE

Makes enough for 11/2 to 2 pounds of beef

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish or zipper-top plastic bag. Add beef. Turn to coat. Leave at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour or refrigerate up to 8 hours.



Categories: Recipes

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