6 Underrated Cuts of Meat to Cook This Memorial Day (and Where to Buy Them)
When James Peisker and Chris Carter of beloved, eight-year-old Nashville butcher shop Porter Road launched their online business in February this year, they did so out of necessity. Their friends, family, and fans wouldn't stop begging for it.
Devoted customers return week in and week out to the East Nashville shop, forming personal relationships with the guys behind the counter. They've also been known to travel far and wide to pick up the pasture-raised, vegetarian-fed, hormone-free meat. A customer once flew into Nashville from Florida for the sole purpose of filling up a cooler of sausage; another coined the term "portertairan" for folks who refrain from meat unless they're buying from the shop. The biggest display of loyalty, however, might have to be the customer who named his son Porter. “The kid’s only ever eaten meat from Porter Road,” Carter says.
It's easy to see why. The relationships Peisker and Carter, both former restaurant chefs, maintain with their farmers and the unique attention they give to every step of the process—from the feed they use to the way they slice their meat—comes through in the final product. Even their packaging is carefully considered. Made with cornstarch, it's biodegradable and also happens to be a great clean fuel for lighting a barbecue.
Porter Road's shiny new website (seriously, it's probably the most beautiful meat-centric website ever) shows that same attention to detail: Each cut of meat comes with icons that indicate the best way to cook it, and they're adding recipes to the site by the day.
That's because Peisker and Carter don't just want to provide their customers with high-quality meat; they also want to educate people on the best ways to choose and cook it. Don't get Peisker started on the mistakes people make when they're slicing skirt steak (cut it in thirds and then turn it to slice against the grain, he says.) To that end, they've got six suggestions of underrated cuts to try out this summer.
If the Rib Eye is the king of grill, "we coined this the 'prince of the grill,'" says Peisker. It’s cut from the same muscle as the Rib Eye, but "there are no bones in it, it's half the price and people just don’t know.” Simply season it with salt and pepper, grill it over high heat and let it rest.
Carter could talk for hours about this cut, he kids (but really means it). “The flap is like a large skirt steak, so it’s thicker. It’s all about that char," he says. It's a big piece, so it's great for groups, and the muscles run up and down, so you want to slice cross across the grain to cut it into small sections.
Another cut that's great for groups is the tri-tip. Its triangular shape makes it possible to get a finished piece that's cooked rare in one place and more fully cooked through in another place, which makes it a real crowd-pleaser.
"This is most incredibly marbled piece of meat, with a great beefy bite. The dry age comes through but it's not over the top. There's enough marbling but it's not over the top where there’s too much fat," says Ryan McIntyre, who joined the team lead the new e-commerce business. Swooning over this cut, McIntyre says, "You can cook it a lot of ways: sous vide and then grill. It's extremely versatile."
This is a great alternative to lamb chops. But fair warning: "lamb fat will flare up, so it’s not for the faint of heart," Carter says. If you're ready for potential flare-ups, the rest is easy. All you have to do, Carter advises, is grill the ribs on high heat and keep a watchful eye. When you take them off the grill, squeeze some lemon juice on top, sprinkle them with parsley and flaky salt and finish the whole things off with drizzle olive oil. The end.
This cut is pork shoulder cut into eight-ounce steaks with the bone in it. You char it on the grill, season it with salt and pepper and you're done. Or, you could, like Peisker likes to do, dip it into a pan of BBQ sauce and beer. "It's easy for a crowd and you look like you're working really hard on the grill," Peisker, who's from St. Louis, jokes.