Once relegated to stews and burgers, shoulder cuts have experienced a resurgence in popularity lately. It’s a well-deserved revival as roasts, steaks and chops from the shoulder are still some of the most affordable cuts; they offer rich flavour and melt-in-the-mouth tenderness that few other cuts can offer.
Shoulder meat has even become something of a favourite lately among celebrity chefs who say it has tons of natural flavour, and it reminds people of the comfort food they grew up with.
Braised Beef Shoulder
The tender texture of braised shoulder makes it a winner and it is probably the most versatile and easiest part of the animal to get right. Shoulder of beef is a great value cut, but you must be prepared to invest the time in preparation and cooking.
Cuts from the front of the animal taste great and are easy on the purse, and have great flavour. The shoulder muscles of an animal are used not only for movement from one side of the field to the other, but also are exercised repeatedly as the animal lowers its neck to feed. That means shoulder meat (called chuck when referring to beef) is well exercised and full of connective tissue. Most shoulder meat cuts need a low, slow cooking method like braising or slow roasting so that the collagen and connective tissue in the muscle have time to dissolve.
With a little patience, inexpensive shoulder meat will become fork tender and surrounded by a rich sauce full of body.
Shoulder of Pork
This upper part of the shoulder of a pig has a high proportion of lean, tender meat with an even covering of fat that helps the meat stay moist when it’s being braised or smoked.
Though there’s usually a blade bone in this cut, some butchers bone the roast and tie it up for easy serving. The meat is the best cut for slow-roasted pulled pork, and it makes excellent cubed meat for stews and casseroles, though a shoulder cut is also great for roasting.
When lamb shoulder isn’t sold cubed, you can find it boned or bone-in and tied into a roast, or cut into single-serving chops. Lamb shoulder roasts can be slow-roasted in the oven and have more flavour than leg of lamb.
Chops cut from the shoulder area have loads of flavour and are less expensive than loin chops, and don’t be afraid to pick them up to chew the meat off the bones.
Even farther down on the shoulder primal is the fore shank, a thrifty cut that is great when braised or stewed in flavourful liquid until meltingly tender; think Guinness, carrot and turnips, the way your granny used to make.
Hugh Phillips Gower Butcher
Our butcher’s stall in Swansea Market stocks a wide range of shoulder joints and we would encourage you to talk to one of our butchers who are experts in helping you to get the best value from the joints.
You can also order online from our online shop, www.bestonlinebutcher.co.uk. We despatch online deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All our meat is packaged in Woolcool, a multi award winning insulated packaging that is more eco-friendly than conventionally insulated packaging such as polystyrene as it is entirely biodegradable.