The bare bones - a quick introduction to boning meat
De-boning meat is one of those many butchery skills that’s relatively easy to pick up, and undeniably hard to master. But it’s worth putting the effort in, because it’s widely regarded as one of the key skills that any butcher can learn. So if you’re looking at getting started on honing this skill, we’ve collated a couple of key bits of advice you’ll need to make sure you’re getting the job done right. Obviously, one of the most important bits is to ensure that you’re using the right butcher’s knife for the job, whether that’s a large boning knife or an even more precise filleting knife. Before we get to that point though, let’s start right at the beginning…
Why should you de-bone meat?
Now, some people argue that de-boning isn’t absolutely essential for every cut of meat, and they wouldn’t be wrong. But having said that, some of that sentiment is based on some pretty widespread misconceptions.
For example, lots of people believe that keeping the bone enhances the flavour of the meat, but that’s not quite correct. The bone does indeed contain extra flavour in the form of the marrow, but this normally can’t escape from the bone during the cooking process, so any effect on the final dish is often negligible. The exception is when the meat is simmered or braised, the bone marrow breaks down, giving the dish an extra flavour. Besides that though, meat is generally better off deboned!
There are a variety of reasons for this. For starters, deboned meat results in shorter cooking times, as the meat itself heats through faster and more easily than the bone does. That also has the added bonus of maximising safety, as it’s easier to avoid any danger of undercooking any deeper parts of the meat. And of course, it’s a chef’s dream as it makes things easier for them at the cooking stage - deboned meat is easier to handle and season.
Make sure you’ve got the right tools to hand
This is a vital prerequisite for any kind of butchery skill, and deboning is no exception. Safe and successful deboning of any kind of meat generally requires either a boning knife or a filleting knife - in some cases, possibly both. Otherwise, you run the risk of:
- Poorly butchered meat - this will be a lot harder to present to prospective customers, and those who do buy it may well find it not quite as pleasant to consume, which could eventually end up reflecting poorly on your establishment.
- Wasted time and resources - time is precious when you’re working in a busy commercial environment, and inefficiency can quickly end up cutting into your profit margins. That’s not to mention all the meat that could end up being wasted, costing you money and usable stock.
- Danger of injury - you don’t have to be a particularly experienced butcher to know the hazards of using unsuitable or blunted knives. More often than not, their lack of suitability means they require a lot more brute force to successfully cut - increasing the risk of the blade slipping, and causing some quite potentially nasty injuries.
Now, as we’ve touched on above, if you’re deboning large cuts of meat, you’ll probably need a boning knife, whereas fish will require a filleting knife. Poultry is a little bit different, as you can use both types of knife to debone it effectively. A boning knife can be used for its backbone, whereas a filleting knife can be used for the breast fillets and skin.
We’ll go into more detail about the various techniques that each piece of meat requires in our next post! In the meantime, if you need to get yourself equipped with the right tools for the job, you’re in exactly the right place. Here at Butchers Equipment Warehouse we have a huge range of boning knives and filleting knives from a variety of world-leading manufacturers, including Victorinox, Swibo, and F. Dick. If you need any advice or you’re looking for anything in particular, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01254 427761. We’re here to help!