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Meat - Does anyone else like it with a bit of chew?

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It seems like when we talk about meat, you hear phrases like "fall of the bone", "So tender you can cut it with a fork", "fall apart" and so on.

Meet that is soft, tender, with no real chew to it seems to be most prized. I think I am in the minority when it comes to liking a bit of chew to the meat. It being tough has no issues. with me. Questions, Is the value "soft or tender" meat only within this culture. Are there cooking culture where chewy meats are more prized?


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  1. Most Mexican meat dishes I've had, and we're talking strictly skeletal-muscle meat, do tend very much towards chewy. Thin pork steaks fried to a chewy crisp and machaca, a crisp-fried shredded beef and egg dish, are the two I've most encountered. It was the California vaqueros who first cooked beef tri-tip over red oak fires, and that is not only chewy, but about as good as chewy gets.

    I disagree that our culture is strictly anti-chew; there are plenty of folks whose opinions I've heard in conversation, or read here and elsewhere, who have no great love for tenderloin, either beef or pork, and who would much rather have a good sirloin steak than filet any day. Even a prime porterhouse, done to my taste, will have some chew to it; I don't care much for flabby meat of any sort, for the most part.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Will Owen

      You're right about the sirloin vs. tenderloin point, but it isn't due to the relative chewiness in my opinion but simply that the sirloin has more flavor. Same reason that dark meat chicken folks like the dark--it's more flavorful (not sure chewiness enters into that discussion, but I digress).

      I think flavor is also wrapped up with the "fall off the bone" thing. Long slow cooking leads to very tender meat certainly, but (done correctly of course) there is also a buildup of flavor, perhaps based on increased glutamates, and it seems to me that here too flavor is a very important reason for the preference.

    2. I'm with you -- flavor is most important, and tenderness is a distant second. My husband disagrees, however.

      1. As long as I keep up my count of dentition
        Somewhere up in the high 20's
        Then I'll grin with the gnaw that a good piece of meat gives.

        I accede with glad nod to my gnawing ancestors.

        They probably had even lower limits on tooth count.
        and we can only assume the harmonic cacophony
        as they banged on the bones for the marrow.

        I sneak now today, with my supermarket meat,
        to cook it and break proteins down,
        in seek of that connection.

        1. I think there's a difference between having a bit of a chew to it, and being tough, and my preferences for texture depend on the cut of the meat.

          For something like steak, I want something that gives some resistance when I chew it, but there's definitely such a think as too tough. For something like beef shank, I find it needs to be cooked past tough into tender before it's really good. There are other dishes that are supposed to be pretty chewy - chicken gizzard yakitori, for example, generally puts up a good fight.

          Actually, I find Japanese cuisine has very different standards when it comes to what is considered an enjoyable texture. In western cooking, for example, I find that instructions for okra inevitably tell you how long to cook it to avoid the sliminess, and gizzards are cooked so they aren't too tough. In Japanese cuisine, I find a lot more slimy textures are prized (raw sliced okra, grated tororo, natto, raw egg) and there are more tough textures too (gizzard yakitori and grilled chicken cartilage, for example).

          1. I grew up eating london broil at home and in local diners - I like chewy meat. It's satisfying. This isn't to say I don't enjoy filet mignon, but I am often in the mood for london broil, which makes me feel like I'm really digging in. If that makes any sense at all.

            1. I also tend to go for flavor over tenderness. I like both, of course, but I'll eat a thinly sliced medium rare chuck steak over filet mignon any day. Give me skirt, flank, beef back ribs and I'm a happy boy. But I do love me some Rib Eyes when I get them too.

              I never do spare ribs till they're falling off the bone -- I like them to still have some chew.

              2 Replies
              1. re: acgold7

                I recently bought a big chuck steak for chopping up into chili and decided to try preparing some of it as an actual steak. Just a simple salt, vegetable oil, hot pan, sear to medium-rare, and wow... Really delicious, rich flavor from a pretty cheap cut of beef. It is a little tougher but that's okay, that just means dinner lasts longer.

                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  I grew up on this stuff. I never knew until I was older that no one else ate it as a steak.

              2. I'm not a big fan of "fall-off-the-bone" or fork-tender meat, either. I prefer some texture to it, and if it's a little too much, that's usually okay as long as the flavor's good. I feel the same way about "soft" fish, like sole- I'll take a mahi-mahi fillet any day.

                1. I definitely prefer flavour over tenderness and will happily have a bit more chew for a better flavour.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TheHuntress

                    When it comes to steak, I, myself, prefer a good New York to a flabby, soft, flavorless filet.
                    But I love all kinds of meat and textures, it depends on what kind of mood I'm in.
                    Filet applies itself very well to my favorite salad, Steak, Pear and Walnut Salad.
                    And I love a great, tender ribeye.
                    But, for a good, old-fashioned, steakhouse experience, give me a good, hearty New York Strip.

                  2. Being a carnivore I like meat that offers some resistance to the tooth.....Tender, but not mushy.
                    When I want mushy....I eat mashed potatoes......
                    Meat flavor is paramount!! Then tenderness....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Uncle Bob

                      I an with you there. Flavor first, then tender, mostly, but resistance is the word of the day.

                    2. Rib eye is the favorite around here while I prefer New York and I love tri tip as well. The really tender cuts will, sometimes repulse me.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Axlsgoddess

                        I'm with you. I'll take a NY strip or even a top sirloin over a ribeye or tenderloin any day. And I love a good tri tip even though H doesn't embrace it at all. He's coming around slowly, but it's slow...

                      2. I too am with you.. I cannot relate sometimes when meat is falling off the bone or melting in your mouth. The way I look at it is that I want to use my teeth perhaps before I loose them and my greatest challenge and joy is fighting with a noble rib or steak bone and winning.Success is measured by the amount of meat juices I wipe off my earlobes......

                        1. As others have said, it depends on the meat. I like hanger steak, for instance, which definitely has some chew to it. But in, say, lamb stew, really tender is good.

                          1. I think there's the chew that results from poor and insufficient cooking which, presumably, no-one gives any merit to.

                            Then there's the chew that results from it being, say, an older meat - like mutton instead of lamb, or a different cut - like rump steak instead of fillet. Has lots of merit to me.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Harters

                              I always get rump over fillet - I can no longer keep count of the amount of times a waiter has tried to persuade me to take the more tender steak. No thank you, I specifically want the flavour you get from rump - I usually just get a bemused look as if I'm completely mad.

                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                I too am a rump man.

                                Can one beat those thick slices browned...
                                then simmered with tomaters and fresh grown green peppers?.

                            2. I am definitely willing to accept chew for superior flavor. In BBQ circles, "fall off the bone tender" (as many gush over) is considered bad form.

                              But you don't want to have to chew hard on the carnitas in your taco. If you make it right, it will be meltingly tender on the inside, a bit crispy on the outside.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Steve

                                Absolutely right. Long slow cooking BBQ style transforms tough, cheap cuts into something approaching a transcendant culinary experience. Taken to the extreme it's just meat flavored jello. It should be tender, if it falls off the bone it should have come off the pit an hour ago.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  Yes, I like some resistance in my meat. It drives me crazy to hear people rave about a bbq place saying the meat was falling off the bone. That to me is bad bbq, when I bite into the meat, I want there to be some resistance and texture then I pull it away gently with my teeth.

                                  I don't want stewed bbq ribs.