Is meat sweeter nearer to the bone?

Author: Anthony Puharich
Photography: Lauren Haire

Is there any truth to the saying: "the nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat?"

Absolutely. But when it comes to the long and slow cooking of the cooler months, the humble bone brings so much more than sweetness. There's the marrow, that intense, beefy butter inside the bone, but there's also the connective tissue and fat that clings to the surface which adds flavour to your stew and prevents the meat from shrinking. But it's the bones themselves, the actual calcified bone matter, that I want to you to celebrate this coming winter.

Bones are high in collagen, which, with long and gentle cooking, melts to become gelatin. This adds texture and viscosity to sauce that would otherwise be watery. Gelatin has long been used as a natural glue, and as it develops in your braise it catches small flavour particles of meat, suspending them within the sauce and adding a depth of flavour that you couldn't otherwise attain. This is why chefs use stocks so liberally in their cooking.

Finally bones, chicken and beef bones in particular, are a source of umami, the taste of richness. Perhaps it'd be better to say "the nearer the bone the thicker the sauce, the deeper the flavour and the more delicious the meat". A tasty mouthful.

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