I was thinking about this earlier while thinking about menudo as I was munching on a piece of oxtail. When I tried to make bone broth, it pretty much failed, even though I used cartilage-y pieces of bone. The broth wasn't gelatinous at all. But everytime I've had menudo and refrigerated it, the broth has become rich and jiggly. This got me wondering about the nutritional benefits of bone broth versus just eating cartilage.
Of course, the advantage of menudo is that you get the long- and slow-cooked broth AND you can eat the cartilage from ankle bones and such--or, at least, I do, as does everyone else in my family who enjoys menudo.
But tonight, my mom and I made cocido (vegetable & meat soup) with oxtail, and the bones were only simmered for an hour or two--a little below what's usually recommended in recipes for bone broth. Barring the extraction of calcium and other minerals from bones that require longer simmering, couldn't I just eat faster-cooked cartilage to receive its benefits (e.g. from its collagen) instead of allowing pieces of cartilage-y bone to simmer for hours and then throwing them out?
Okay, I do hope this made sense. Defer to the title of this post if any confusion ensues. (:
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I don't drink bone broth anymore. Instead, I eat tendon pho.
Why? Laziness! I'm too lazy to make batches regularly, and it smells funky to me, even laced with cooking veggie smells.
Tendon, along with meat on the bone, seems like it would provide a more concentrated source of nutrients than bone broth. You can freeze tendon in the cooked or uncooked state. Tendon has a smooth texture that is reminiscent of fat. Three cheers for tendon. Hip hip...hooray!!
If you look at things in the "Nose to Tail" perspective, there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating the cartilage. Western Culture, and especially the industrial-minded American food culture, spurns many bits of the animal that other places in the world enjoy. A friend of mine that visited Japan on a study abroad used to make fun of me for not eating all the meat on the chicken wing, and talked about how you could order just the chicken "knuckles" as an appetizer. My wife, on the other hand, gets grossed out that I eat all the meat off the bone while she leaves several bites of meat on there. The french prize the tip of a poultry tail and the "oyster" (equivalent of a loin) on the spine of the bird, where in some dishes they eat the entire animal whole (Ortolan)!
Point being is: eat the cartilage for whatever reason you want. Yes, the nutrition is there.