We have had such an overwhelming response to our Friends of MTF series and we are excited to share our next installment from Eat Great Meat. The 8th Generation of family butchers from Barnsley in the UK. When it comes to meat they know their stuff.

The team share their thoughts and expertise on the topic of cooking with the bone in or out.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to cooking certain cuts of meat such as steak. One says, bone in is best, the other says bone out. This debate is ongoing for all types of meat, even chicken.  So is there a better way? Or is it all down to personal preference?


[divider]Bone In – The myth[/divider]

Bone-in supporters claim that steaks have a better flavour when cooked on the bone due to the added flavour of the bone marrow. While this sounds like a feasible theory, it actually isn’t true.

A recent study conducted by the Meat Science team at Texas A&M and Serious Eats’ by J. Kenji-Lopez put bone-in vs. boneless steaks to the test.

What they discovered was it didn’t make a jot of difference to the flavour. The bone surface is just not porous enough to allow the bone marrow to seep through and flavour the meat.


[divider]What are the benefits of bone-in?[/divider]

The biggest benefit when cooking steak is that the bone takes longer to heat up and cool down than the beef. This means that the meat that is next to the bone can end up being more juicy and tender and is possibly where the ‘flavour’ theory comes from.

However, this is only good for those who cook their steaks medium to well done. Those of you who enjoy your steaks medium-rare may find that the section next to the bone becomes a little more chewy as it is more raw than the rest of the steak. So you may wish to consider how you enjoy your steak if deciding on bone in or bone out.

Cooking any cut of meat on-the-bone also helps to maintain the shape of the meat better. It slows down cooking time, but can help to prevent the meat from drying out.

When cooking chicken there are advantages to cooking on the bone, not least of which is that the meat itself stays more juicy and is less likely to dry when cooked on the bone. The overall look of the meat and the finished dish is better; when cooked properly.

Cooking chicken off-the-bone requires a little extra preparation. You really want to make the pieces all the same size to avoid one bit over cooking and becoming dry, or one under cooking and being ‘raw’ which can make you ill.

The biggest advantage of cooking on-the-bone has to be the bones themselves. After you have finished your meat, you can use the bones to create ‘bone broth’. Bone broth has multiple uses and health benefits which we shall look at in a moment.

But first lets even up the argument…


[divider]What are the benefits of bone-out?[/divider]

Cooking any kind of meat off-the-bone helps to reduce the length of time it takes to cook. It also gives you more options on ‘how’ to cook, especially for things like steak.

You can pan sear and pan cook meat that is off-the-bone as well as the grilling and baking that you need to do for any meat that is on-the-bone.

Boneless steaks tend to have a better sear through. If chicken has been pre-treated and is all the same depth, you won’t lose out on the juiciness. With chicken you will usually find skinless fillets, which of course are a lower fat option.


[divider]Bone Broth – Why do I want it?[/divider]

Bone broth can be made from just about any bones and the connective tissues and is a highly nutritious dish. Recent studies are finding more and more health benefits of incorporating bone broth into your daily diet.

The bones and tissues are rich in a variety of vitamins and nutrients such as magnesium and calcium. They also contain collagen which, when cooked, turns into gelatine a building block of protein.

One study reported in Medical News today lists health benefits such as helping to keep healthy joints and fighting osteoarthritis.

It has been reported to help with maintaining good gut health through reducing the inflammation and helping to heal the gut. Health online also agree with these findings, plus many more, including a link to helping with weight loss and even promoting good sleep.


So, if you are happy cooking on-the-bone, then why not utilise the whole joint and really get great value by adding bone broth to the list of benefits to cooking this way?

At the end of the day it is about personal preference. Whether cooking on or off the bone, just make sure you adjust your methods to suit the meat.