Brisket Bone

Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah is a content marketing specialist, with a passion for the food niche, she writes engaging content that celebrates the joy of food and its power to bring people together. Having worked on different projects. Her curiosity and creativity shines through in her writing.
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In Nigeria, a unique cut of meat has emerged in cuisine and culture – the so-called ‘biscuit bone.’ This unusual name refers to the soft, chewable bones found in beef dishes that are lovingly embraced in Nigerian cooking.

However, the term ‘biscuit bone’ has caused some confusion and debate, as it is not found in any English dictionaries or anatomical references.

What Is the Real Name for Biscuit Bone? Brisket or Biscuit Bone

Upon closer examination, it appears Nigerians have coined an informal name for what is more widely known as ‘brisket bones’ in beef anatomy. Brisket refers to the chest area of a cow, specifically the pectoral muscles.

As cattle do not have collar bones, the brisket supports 60% of the body weight and contains a high amount of connective tissue. When cooked correctly, this connective tissue breaks down into gelatin, leaving the meat tender and the bones soft.

brisket bone 1

So why do Nigerians call it ‘biscuit bone’ instead of brisket? The chewable bones likely reminded them of the soft texture of baked biscuits. The informal name caught on in Nigerian food culture, though it perplexed many outside Nigeria who were unfamiliar with the term.

Controversy emerged as some insisted ‘brisket bone’ was the proper anatomical name, accusing Nigerians of mislabeling a cut of meat. However, both terms refer to the same part of the cow. The disagreement sheds light on how localized food words develop within cultures.

What Is the Meaning of Brisket Bone?

To understand why Nigerians may use an informal name like ‘biscuit bone,’ it helps to first understand brisket anatomy:

  • Brisket comes from the pectoral chest muscles of a cow, an area which supports 60% of the body’s weight.
  • As cattle do not have collar bones, the brisket contains a very high amount of connective tissue and thick muscle fibers to support the weight.
  • Brisket is one of the nine primal (major) cuts of beef.
  • When cooked correctly at low heat over a long time, the collagen in the connective tissue transforms into gelatin, leaving the meat very tender.
  • The brisket contains parts of the sternum bone as well as rib bones. These bones are attached to the thick pectoral muscles.
  • When the connective tissue has properly broken down, these bones attached to the brisket meat become soft, chewy, and edible.

Why ‘Biscuit Bone’ Makes Sense

For those unfamiliar with Nigerian cuisine, the term ‘biscuit bone’ may seem odd or incorrect. Biscuits are baked goods and bones are animal anatomy – the two don’t seem to have any relation.

However, within the context of Nigerian cooking, ‘biscuit bone’ is a logical descriptor:

  • The bones are not hard, weight-bearing leg bones. When cooked properly, brisket bones become soft, pliable, and chewy.
  • These tender bones likely reminded Nigerians of bite-sized biscuits – baked goods that are soft, crumbly, and meant to be eaten by hand.
  • Calling them ‘biscuit bones’ describes the texture and conveys how they are eaten.
  • The informal name emerges from the unique Nigerian experience and perspective of cooking and consuming these bones.

Thus, while anatomically incorrect, ‘biscuit bone’ makes total sense within Nigerian food culture. When understood in context, the name is imaginative rather than ignorant.

brisket bone 3


Where Is Brisket Bone Found?

While ‘biscuit bone’ arose informally, the standard anatomical name for this cut of meat is brisket. Here’s a more technical look at brisket structure:

  • Brisket comes from the pectoralis major muscles of the cow’s chest. This large pair of muscles supports over half the body’s weight.
  • The brisket contains both the deep and superficial pectoral muscles which cover the bovine sternum (breastbone) and rib cage.
  • The breastbone or sternum of a cow consists of several large segments fused together with cartilage. The brisket contains parts of the sternum.
  • Brisket also contains sections of the upper rib bones (numbers 1-5) where the ribs join the sternum. These bones are embedded within the thick pectoral muscles.
  • As the cow uses these muscles for heavy lifting and motion, the brisket contains a very high percentage of connective tissue – collagen, elastin, and fat.
  • This dense connective tissue must be cooked slowly to break down the tough collagen into tender gelatin.
  • With the right cooking method, the brisket becomes fall-apart tender and the otherwise hard bones soften significantly.

Why ‘Brisket Bone’ Technically Applies

Based on the anatomy, calling these bones ‘brisket bones’ is accurate:

  • The sternum and upper rib sections within the brisket contain soft, chewable bones after cooking.
  • These bones are attached to and embedded within the brisket pectoral muscles and connective tissue.
  • ‘Brisket bones’ identify their anatomical location and surrounding muscle/meat.
  • It differentiates them from leg or hip bones which remain tough and not edible.
  • While the attached bones give the brisket structural support, they become tender and pliable with cooking due to the breakdown of collagen into gelatin.
  • Thus, ‘brisket bones’ indicate both their anatomical origins and their cooked state.

Is Brisket Bone Good for Pregnancy?

Brisket bone can be a great source of nutrients during pregnancy when prepared properly. The collagen in brisket bone breaks down into gelatin when cooked slowly, releasing amino acids like glycine and proline.

These amino acids are highly beneficial for both mother and baby during pregnancy. Brisket also provides iron, zinc, and calcium – all minerals that help support a healthy pregnancy.

As long as the meat is cooked thoroughly to avoid any food poisoning risk, enjoy brisket bones in stews, broths, and braises for their nutritional value during this important time. Moderation is key, but brisket bone can be a tasty and healthy addition to the prenatal diet.

The Nigerian Food Perspective

To appreciate why Nigerians embrace the term ‘biscuit bone,’ it helps to understand the nature of their cuisine:

Meat Culture

  • Beef and goat meat are prominent in Nigerian dishes.
  • Bones are often cooked right into dishes or served on the side. Bone marrow is also enjoyed.
  • Bones are not discarded but valued for their flavoring and nutrients.

Stews and Soups

  • Dishes like pepper soup has chunks of tender meat and soft bones swimming in broth.
  • Brisket bones enhance the richness and thickness of Nigerian soups and stews.
  • The collagen-rich bones act like a stock base as their gelatin dissolves into the liquid.

Low and Slow Cooking

  • Brisket suits Nigerian cooking methods like slow simmering, braising, and stewing.
  • With time, the tough collagen transforms into luscious gelatin.
  • This yields melt-in-your-mouth meat and soft, chewable bones.

Culinary Creativity

  • From suya to puff puff, Nigerian cuisine has unique names for food concepts or techniques.
  • ‘Biscuit bone’ follows in this tradition of imaginative food words.
  • The informal name captures the texture and spirit of enjoying these bones.
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Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah Olayiwola
Deborah is a content marketing specialist, with a passion for the food niche, she writes engaging content that celebrates the joy of food and its power to bring people together. Having worked on different projects. Her curiosity and creativity shines through in her writing.

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