Bone-in vs bone-out is a much-debated topic amongst meat-lovers. Bone-in lovers are certain that having the bone in creates better flavour (due to flavour from the bone marrow, which transfers to the meat) whereas bone-out lovers argue that the bone is too impenetrable to make any difference. Seeking to answer these questions, the Meat Science teams at Texas A&M and Serious Eats’ J. Kenji-Lopez decided to conduct an experiment and get an answer once and for all. According to their results, flavour-wise, steaks that are cooked bone-in are pretty much indistinguishable from boneless steaks. This is because the bones aren’t porous enough to release their marrow.
What Bone-in Cooking Does
Although research denounced the marrow theory, there is some truth to the meat near the bone being extra delicious. This is because the meat near the bone comes off the grill 5-10º cooler than the rest of the steak. This means for those who cook their steaks to medium doneness or well done, the section next to the bone will be more juicy and extra tender. For those who cook their steaks rare or medium rare, however, the meat near the bone could turn out chewy or raw. According to the researchers at Texas A&M, bone-in steaks also tend to keep their shape a little better than boneless steaks. Boneless steaks have better sear though. As you can see, it’s all about pros and cons!
Cooking Bone-in Steak
Although bone-in steaks can be a little intimidating, these steaks don’t call for a special cooking method. The main difference is that bone-in steaks may take a little longer to cook, since the bone can impact the heat distribution. This can actually be helpful because the meat comes to temperature more gradually, so overcooking is unlikely.
The best cooking methods for bone-in steak are grilling and oven-roasting. Avoid stovetop methods, as these don’t suit dense bone-in steaks, which require longer cooking time. For the best results, make sure to buy a meat thermometer!
Grilling is a great option for bone-in steak. To ensure even cooking, flip the meat frequently and baste with butter.
If you don’t have a grill, oven-cooking is the next best option for bone-in steaks. Sear the steak in a pan first, then put it in the oven to finish.
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