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The so-called "nervous" meats


The so-called "nervous" meats
You've probably heard this before, we're talking about "nervous" meat, or meat with nerves, to describe what is indicated by the blue arrow on the left.

This is a piece of beef, and what we call a nerve is not a nerve, it is in fact collagen (chemists sometimes call it a "collagen sink"), a protein that is found in varying amounts in some of the meats we eat.

But we'll continue to call them "nerves" for the rest of this post, it will be simpler.
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Last modified on: April 16th 2021

Keywords for this post:MeatNervesCollagenCookingGelatin
The so-called "nervous" meats
Let's say it straight, even if it's not nerves, it's not pleasant to eat, it's both hard and elastic in the mouth, in short if you find it while chewing a piece of meat, steak for example, you'll feel the difference in texture and taste (it doesn't have any taste in fact)

So naturally, if you prepare a meat before cooking, you try to eliminate as much as possible these nerves to see a certain harmony of texture. A lot of cutting to be done, it's a lot of work, I must admit.

Okay, but where is the trick?



Well, it's not as binary as that, it turns out that this collagen under the action of heat, cooking, long, we are talking about at least 2 hours, this collagen is naturally transformed into gelatin, and therefore on the one hand it loses completely its hardness, it melts in fact, but in addition it brings a natural binder to your preparation.

This is one of the secrets of meat dishes that are cooked for a long time, I am thinking in particular of beef bourguignon, blanquette de veau or carbonnade, it is not obvious but it is not at all necessary to choose a first choice meat, on the contrary a cheap and slightly nervous meat will be fine, no need to make a thousand cuts to eliminate the nerves, better it will even participate in the holding of your sauce, thanks to its natural gelatin contribution.

boeuf bourguignon



That's why if you ask your butcher for a bourguignon meat, for example, he might offer you less noble, more economical cuts (e.g. skirt steak, chuck) and a bit nervous, no worries, on the contrary.

This is the advantage of these dishes which must cook for at least 2 hours, but which can very well do it twice or three times or even more, under cover, over a low heat, where the meat gently confit and the tastes reveal themselves more and more, for our greatest gustatory pleasure.

In summary: The presence of nerves (in fact collagen) is not a problem for long-cooked meats, it can even be an asset, thanks to the slow transformation of collagen into gelatin.


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