The lamb neck in the butcher's case of my neighborhood market looks rather out of place amidst expensive fillets of this and that. But they butcher whole local lambs, so there it is, the cheapest thing in the case. So I bought it and made a Rogan Josh sort of curry out of it, but it sure was a lot of work to braise the necks and get the meat off the bones.
So while up to my wrists in lamb grease while pulling the meat off with my fingers, I had plenty of time to think about cooking cheap ingredients by putting hours of work into it: wontons or ravioli would fall into that category. It's almost a different species of cooking from buying something expensive like steak or scallops and cooking it quickly.
Last summer a fishmonger gave me five salmon frames after cutting off the fillets, and I scraped off the shreds of flesh and made stock with the bones, and wound up with pink gefilte fish. But i rather enjoyed the labor and the feeling of thrift and old-fashionedness, if you know what I mean.
I wonder how many people still cook like that: it's the way my grandmother cooked. I can't be the only one; they're not selling lamb neck only to me, I'm sure. At the same time, it's hard to find tongue or heart or anything like that anymore; I have to go to either a Chinese-owned or Mexican-owned market to get it.
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