When you yearn for a roast and check out the selection in the supermarket meat case, you might lose your appetite when you see the prices. But actually, a tasty cut of meat doesn't have to drain your bank account. Inexpensive roasts of beef and pork are just as delicious as the high-end cuts when they are properly prepared.
Beef round roasts, cut from the back leg of the cow, are among the most affordable. They require slow cooking for tenderization. Top round is the best bargain, as it tastes very similar to top sirloin if slowly braised or roasted and sliced thin to enhance its tenderness. Bottom round rump roast is also a good bargain, cooked like top round and nearly as tender. Eye of round and bottom round roasts are inexpensive and can also be roasted or braised, but they generally have the least flavor and tenderness in the round roast category.
Chuck roasts are cut from from the shoulder and rib areas of the cow. They are a little pricier than round roasts and are perfect for slow, moist cooking because they are full of connective tissue created by the arm movement, tissue that breaks down over several hours and imparts the meat with juiciness and flavor. Chuck roasts aren't the most attractive cut of beef, but you can't get a better cut for a pot roast dinner or hearty beef stew. Top blade and chuck 7-bone roasts have the best flavor and tenderness in this group and cook a little faster than their counterparts, such as boneless chuck, chuck-eye, chuck shoulder or under blade roasts.
Sirloin roasts come from the top back of the cow, near the spine and right before the cow's rump. They have rich, deep beefy flavor like the more expensive, more tender loin roasts cut right underneath them but at about half the cost. Top sirloin roast has great flavor, although you have to cut around the large strip of gristle that runs down its center. Tri-tip roast is affordable and traditionally grilled or roasted whole in the Western part of the United States. On the East Coast, tri-tip is usually cut into sirloin tips or steak tips before cooking. The meat of tri-tip has a mild flavor and is quite tender when cooked to medium-rare and carved against the grain.
Hogs don't yield as many varieties of roasts as cows, but a couple of cuts are flavorful, succulent and affordable. Fresh pork leg or pork shoulder roasts, also called pork butt or Boston butt, melt in your mouth when generously seasoned with simple herbs and spices and roasted slowly until fork tender. Or cut a boneless pork shoulder into large, rectangular pieces and grill or braise them like country-style ribs.
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Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.