We are gently losing the habit of cooking with bones, as the supermarket pre-packed meats of dubious origin mean that many people don’t know how to cook, carve or serve meat with a bone in, and are put off. But the benefits of bones are indisputable.
With whole carcass butchery, our butchers can prepare cuts with the bone in, or you can ask for bones to make your own broth. From Oxtail and Osso Bucco (Veal shin with marrow), shoulder of lamb to Ribs of Beef, from Creedy Carver chickens to pork chops there are loads of delicious cuts to go for.
The advantages of cooking with bones are many:
Flavour – Bones add a depth of flavour to stocks, soups and stews that no stock cube can compete with. If you are cooking a joint with the bone in, the flavour is noticeably better.
Texture – You get a variety of textures when cooking on the bone. If you look at a rib of beef, the meat closest to the bone will be pinker and more tender than the outside, and I’m all for celebrating having a variety of textures within one meal.
Health – bones have marrow, collagen, gelatin, calcium, trace elements, amino acids and lots of other goodies that help our own bones, skin and health. Athletes take loads of expensive supplements, most of which can be found in a good bowl of homemade broth, while osteoporosis can be kept at bay with calcium.
Value – The less common cuts such as oxtail or neck of lamb are great value, while the number of meals you can get from a whole chicken (using the bones to make stock for risottos or stews) means that you get far more value compared with 2 chicken breasts and legs.
Generally cooking on the bone is best done low and slow, gently breaking down oxtail or shoulder of lamb until the meat falls away. This is serious food for cold damp days, but will make you feel better. It’s the bones.