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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

"In praise of bones and fat"

Joanna Blythman writes:

"Lean cuts lack flavour, so why did we turn against fatty, sinewy, tastier meat options?

Duck confit. Slow roast shoulder of lamb. Osso bucco. Short ribs. Chicken wings. These are my top five meat dishes. Can you spot the common factor? They all have bones and a fair amount of fat. Now I know that my personal preference runs contrary to the modern obsession with lean, unboned meat. So when someone is carving a chicken they generally love having me at the table, because while most people ask for breast – which is pretty boring to eat, if you ask me – I’m only too happy to eat the wings, the thighs, the legs, and positively delighted to devour the crisp roast skin that others are studiously avoiding.

I feel the same way about bacon: it has to be streaky. This, by the way, is a position that has earned me brownie points with my local butcher, who shares my preference, even though he sells more lean than fatty bacon. In a restaurant, my appetite isn’t whetted by pork loin. The belly interests me much more. I’ll never choose lamb loin either, but chops grilled over charcoal is a favourite. Steak? You can keep the fillet or sirloin. I’ll go for the un-boned rib every time. Chicken ‘Supremes’? Dull as ditch-water, almost invariably dry and characterless animal protein at its most tedious. They just don’t activate the pleasure centres of my brain or woo my palate.

The way I see it, bone and fat are flavour’s best friends. They hang around in a little gang together, and add up to something that’s rewarding to eat. And let’s not forget the minor members of the tasty meat gang: gelatine, connective tissue, collagen, the jelly in your pork pie, the viscosity of patiently reduced beef gravy; these secondary players all have a hand in creating winning consistencies and deliciousness.

In the UK, I think we’re losing our grasp of the elements that make great meat. Supermarkets focus intently on selling us mince and lean cuts. Their beef stew cuts, in my experience, are a penance: the more you cook them, the drier they become. Happily, an independent butcher can still sell you overlooked cuts such as shin, chuck, and blade, that become so rich, so moistly tender with time.

Why did we turn against such marvellous cuts? I blame relentless government advice to avoid saturated fat for diminishing our understanding of meat. It doesn’t make sense when no meat is composed purely of saturated fat. Beef, for instance, consists of, on average, 50% saturated, 45% monounsaturated, and 5% polyunsaturated fat.

The post war anti-sat fat crusade, in my view, was predicated on the weakest type of science: epidemiological studies. These analyses were often based on notoriously unreliable diet questionnaires. But the latest, much more robust systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomised trials, published in the British Medical Journal, have found no statistically significant results to implicate saturated fat as a major cause of coronary heart disease.

Of course, it’s up to you. If you believe the ordinances about saturated fat, you must sacrifice taste for what you believe to be better health. I pay more heed to the words of a towering figure in British nutrition, surgeon captain Thomas Latimer Cleave*: ‘For a modern disease to be related to an old-fashioned food is one of the most ludicrous things I have ever heard in my life.’

I can’t help but think of my grandmother, whose stews melted on the plate, whose marvellously restorative broths – learned from her female forbearers – always started with boiling bones and fatty meat. Perhaps I was brainwashed as a child, but I’ll trust her culinary wisdom over contemporary orthodoxy any day."

… Reading Joanna's words, speaking personally, when I look back to the 50's and 60's I too can remember my Grandmother, and my Mother, making wonderful stews many of which started from boiling bones, the meat just seemed to melt in your mouth! Now in 2019, we still enjoy meat casseroles etc.
However, more and more people have turned to eating less fat, less meat and some prefer vegetarian/ vegan menu plans. It is of course a personal choice.

We do like chicken in our house, it's a great favourite, some prefer skin on while others choose skin off. Do you eat meat? I wonder if you have got a cut of meat that you prefer?

If you were wondering who *Thomas Latimer (Peter) Cleave (1906–1983) was. He was a surgeon captain who researched the negative health effects of consuming refined carbohydrate (notably sugar and white flour) which would not have been available during early human evolution.

Related Post - Chicken Skin Is Good For You - read it here

Dear reader, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, music and recipes!

However, not all the recipes and food choice ideas featured in this blog may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan


Anonymous said...

We only have red meat about once a week. Husband and I eat fat but the children do not enjoy eating fat. Chicken is a big favourite.


Valerie-Jael said...

Good article. These sorts of meat make happy and healthy. Valerie

L said...

I know bone broth is new magic elixir for sure!

Christine said...

it is a part of our lives

Elephant's Child said...

No meat for me. The resident meat eater (other than the cat) likes his meat lean. And would dispute the fat is flavour tag.

Tom said...

...and some say that we eat too much meat.

Chatty Crone said...

I am always mixed about it - I love the fat. Not sure it loves me.

Bill said...

Not a fan of bones and fat. Chicken and fish is about it for me.

William Kendall said...

Thanks for sharing.

Rose said...

Oh, goodness. I love chicken wings, and chuck roast is a long time favorite. I like bacon with plenty of seems to me that people go to the extreme in anything....

Iris Flavia said...

Sadly I´m a very picky eater. So... no fat or, even worse, biting on a cartilage, then I´m sadly done for the meal.

Evi Erlinda said...

I love bone broth from pho.

Jo said...

I love bones and fat, and chicken skin. Mick's the total opposite. I think it's just down to preference.

baili said...

attitude towards eating have changed due to use of harmful feed for chicken and animals dear Jan (my opinion)
either i saw my grandma and mom and other aunts and relatives boiling the bones and using all other parts of chicken that we throw away now
even i search for each single bone remained in chicken while washing it and cut it away because i fear that feed they used to grow them is mostly stored in bones
your grand mom and mom sound great in their cooking :)

Francisco Manuel Carrajola Oliveira said...

Evito comer carne e aproveito para desejar a continuação de uma boa semana.

Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
O prazer dos livros

Phil Slade said...

A great post Jan. Whenever I read articles telling me not to eat fat I think of neanderthals all those millions of years ago. I'll bet they didn't waste any fat or bones.

You just made me fancy a four hour roast shoulder of lamb for weekend. I'm off to the local butcher who as you say, should be the first port of call for anyone looking to buy meat.

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

I whole heartedly agree! I could never live without my beef! LOVE all the parts about your family, and I miss those days of home cooked 3 times a day. I do buy organic a lot but will never give up the beef. Thanks for stopping by all the time...I sooooo appreciate you!

Debbie said...

i am a fat lover too....that's what i keep so much on my body!! hehehehe

i clicked on the chicken skin article, I LOVE THE SKIN, now i don't have to feel any guilt eating it!!!

peppylady (Dora) said...

Not sure what is my fav meat, but I do like it.
Coffee is on

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Chicken and fish are my favs Jan, I've never eaten Pork or lamb, not for any particular reason, just not keen ☺️

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Life is getting so confusing these days. We're told to avoid fat in meat, and also in butter and frying with lard. Then we're told other things like bacon is bad for you, and sausages. Then they contradict that advice. What are we to believe?

The other day my doctor suggested I do something every day that will get me slightly out of breath. So I took up smoking.

God bless. said...

I'll cook meat with fat on it but I don't like eating the fatty part.

DeniseinVA said...

I always like reading articles such as these. I grew up a meat eater and favored my dad's taste who always liked a little fat on his meat and he always said it was better for it. My sister and mum favored more lean cuts. Now I find myself trying to put more meatless dishes on the table and more fish. I wonder what the research will say about that in 20 years time :) Thanks Jan, very interesting.

carol l mckenna said...

Now they thinking that red meat is not so bad for you ~ eat in moderation is my motto ~ Great post.

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