View Full Version : Gristle & Fat - Edible? Palatable? (Don't read while eating!)
07-01-2001, 10:30 AM
They are edible in the strictest sense of the word, but IMHO they are parts of the animal that should have been tossed into the garbage. Seeing this stuff in my bowl of soup is equivalent to seeing little pieces of garbage floating around in it.
For example, when I make chicken soup, I use thighs to get the heartiest broth. I tear the meat up by hand, carefully combing through it to pick out any bones, gristle & fatty pieces. There is nothing worse than enjoying a bowl of homemade chicken soup and discovering a surprise piece of chewy gristle in your mouth. God help me if I happen to be in public when this happens because the offending matter & whatever else happens to be in my mouth gets spat out into a napkin or the nearest trash can.
But I run into this all the time. When I get fed other people's homemade soups, and can see pieces of fatty skin or gristly tendons floating in the bowl I have to eat as though I'm picking through a mine field. Careful not to touch the "inedible" things. My Asian friends seem to be the worst offenders, even tossing entire bones into the pot, and then dish everything right into your bowl.
I know the fat & bones add flavor, but tie them up in cheescloth, or strain them out of the stock pot for god sakes. Don't make me look at that nasty stuff when I'm trying to enjoy the dish!
Gristle is especially nasty - it's like chewing on rubber bands. You just chew and chew and chew and chew... Do you just swallow the grislte? Do you even try to chew it up?
07-01-2001, 04:24 PM
It is quite obvious that you have never had the pleasure of chawing on the fatback of a fine New York strip steak, straight off of the grill. Fats, almost singlehandedly, are responsible for the conveyance of all of the flavors that we taste.
However, leaving detritus floating about in a soup is a no-no. You should be able to Hoover down a bowl of soup without having to first activate your materials analysis quadrant. Good stocks are initially reduced from all of the less desirable components and then strained off completely. The purified stock is then brought into service for the soup with another ingredient set entirely. Those who attempt to shortcut this simple procedure are merely lazy cooks.
07-01-2001, 06:36 PM
Gristle in food? Nooooo, don't think so.
Unless it's attached to honest whole chunks o' derma and bone any sensible eater would expect to gnaw around anyway, it's a no-no. There's a difference between gristle on whole, slowly, cunningly smoked rib racks and nasty bits left on poorly trimmed meats used otherwise.
As for fats--depends.
A thin rim of crispy fat on a good ham, succulent steak, etc. is a fine thing. At best the most goodness has already gone into suavely basting the meat already and it's just a grace note. (Exceptions: lamb/mutton fat is musky and awful even when cooked, and chicken fat is schmaltz--uncutuously good when melted and used as a side note; disgusting when left attached and globby.)
Of course this is from someone who cusses a blue streak when conronted with replacing a button or hemming, much less using a larding needle.
07-01-2001, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by Zenster:
It is quite obvious that you have never had the pleasure of chawing on the fatback of a fine New York strip steak...
I have done that, but I did not experience what I would call "pleasure". What I experienced was "yuck I'm chewing on something that won't chew!" I didn't hang on to it long enough to find out if it had any flavor. Maybe it did. maybe it's quite tasty, I just couldn't tolerate the rubbery consistency.
Glad to know I'm not out in left field about the gristle bits in soup.
07-01-2001, 09:34 PM
You know you're getting old when :
Chickens are no longer sold with the necks, giblets and lights;
You have to pay for lamb kidneys, shanks, and hearts - not to mention lamb's fry - instead of them being included with a side of lamb.
The bottom line is, that if you eat any kind of processed meat - including burgers, chicken patties etc - then you're eating those fatty, gristly bits.
You younguns are clearly way too spoilt if you have only eaten prime, fat-trimmed cuts of meat in your lives. ;)
07-02-2001, 01:43 AM
Originally posted by Attrayant
When I get fed other people's homemade soups, and can see pieces of fatty skin or gristly tendons floating in the bowl I have to eat as though I'm picking through a mine field. Careful not to touch the "inedible" things. My Asian friends seem to be the worst offenders, even tossing entire bones into the pot, and then dish everything right into your bowl.
That's because those are the best parts. There's nothing that beats sucking the skin and the meat and the gristle and the fat right off the bone. Yummy!
Neon Frying Pan
07-02-2001, 02:35 AM
I actually do sympathize with you, finding such things also annoying. My aged Mother makes a turkey soup after every Thanksgiving, which is quite tasty and mainly broth but she has these huge gobs of turkey fat, strange bits of skin and tissue, chunks of meat full of gristle and bits of the joint capsules from the leg and wing joints drifting around loose in there.
I run my quart through a strainer.
All of the stuff is eatable, butt not necessarily tasty, of good texture or palatability. I hate scooping up a spoonful of broth and winding up with a piece of something textured like congealed snot floating in my mouth!
I love beef broth and those who make it insist that fat, gristle and those little bloody spots where arteries go into the meat increase the flavor. Not for me! Beef fat, if I choose to eat it, has to be fried until the outside is crisp and brown, the inside white and soft and served with mustard. The same with fat on pork chops. Before cooking a ham, I attack it with this huge razor sharp knife, which stuns old time chefs into near heart attacks, and trim off most of the fat and skin.
I've discovered that often around 1/4 of the weight you paid for a ham is inediable. I also do not like to being the pan out of the oven with 4 inches of hot, liquified fat slopping around in it.
When I make beef, I trim off almost all of the fat and, if I can, the connective tissue known as gristle. For broth I boil the meat, trimmed of fat, take the stuff out, cool it, trim out the gristle and toss the meat back in. For meals needing bits of ham, I trim off much of the fat, slice out the gristle and those disgustingly snot-like pockets of whatever often found near the bone.
I detest slurping up great bean soup only to spoon up a chunk of ham bound together with chewy/sticky/rubbery gristle!
I don't care if it all adds flavor! I don't like it.
Even if I leave the fat on a steak, unless it is cooked just right, I feed that stuff to the dogs or leave it on my plate.
Yeah, and don't give me no 'down home style thickening gravy' either because all that consists of is a whole bunch of liquid fat with seasoning, a little water and a lot of flour stirred in! We don't work 12 hour days in the fields anymore so we don't need all of that cholesterol and calories for energy.
07-02-2001, 03:35 AM
Originally posted by Neon Frying Pan
...butt not necessarily tasty...Show's what you know!!!
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