The transformation begins
I might be flagging a dead horse by going on about the obscure bits of the animal, but everyone and their mum seems to be flogging a dead horse at the minute so I’m going to go ahead and talk about bones.
Annabel and I stayed with her parents last week on their farm in County Wexford, Ireland. I was lucky to get to help Annabel’s Dad Servaas, her uncle Jan and her cousin Kees butcher half a cow. Amongst the cuts we made were fillet and rump steaks, topside roasting joints and majestic french trimmed beef ribs. My job was to mince about 30kg of lean meat and trimmings and bag it into 500g portions for the freezer. The pile of butchered meat rose and rose and the bone bucket filled. After an hour or so the butchery was done and we had worked up an appetite!
Tonks! what are you doing in here?
For lunch Annabel’s mum Frederike made french onion soup from home made beef marrow bone stock. No powdered bouillon can begin to compare to the wholesome goodness of simmered bones and vegetables. The taste of sweet and savoury caramelised onion paired with this rich meaty stock was fantastic and the dish was perfected by a soggy piece of cheese on toast floating in my soup bowl.
As I ate i could feel my immune system giving me a pat on the back. Eating bone stock boosts the health of the collagen in your tendons, ligaments and the ends of your bones. It’s good for you hair, nails and skin as well; In her book Deep Nutrition, Catherine Shanahan calls it ‘a youth serum capable of rejuvenating your body; no matter what your age.’
Gravy granules stand In opposition to this newfound holy grail of mine. They epitomise the turn our food culture has taken; away from slow, traditional processes towards ease and speed. To rub salt into the wound, the slogan “Aah Bisto” taps into a widespread emotive response to a home-cooked family meal. This emotional blackmail is propagated by Premier Foods, who also bring us Hovis, Mr Kipling and Ambrosia. The sad thing is that Bisto has won the hearts of the nation; a product that is as generic in flavour as it is devoid in nutritional value, while gravy made with real stock has been forgotten. If only the nation could taste Frederike’s onion soup, they might have tasted something worth sighing over.
Bones shouldn’t be given straight to the dog or left at the butcher’s. They should be roasted and then boiled with carrot, onion, celery and a bouquet garni. When strained, the beautiful liquid makes the best and the healthiest soups, sauces and gravies known to man. If your immune system was in the driving seat rather than your stomach, I think it would throw away the meat and use the bones instead.