because it is tough meat, that is why.
My sons were hovering over the sauce pan. When is dinner mom? Mind you, I had already cooked them up meat plus potatoes and salad 2 hours earlier. Somehow, that fine little meal was sanctioned in their minds as 'after school snack.'
How a meal became a snack I have no idea. Sometimes we tease about double dinners, somewhat like Pippin in Lord of the Rings talks about second breakfasts. Isn't there another meal in there? Who made the rule there were only 3 meals a day?
Seriously. Could you imagine? It is all I can do to make sure they have cereal, pack a lunch and provide a healthy balanced dinner. But second lunch? Second dinner? A special afternoon snack sure, I can make an exception. But add in another meal? How soon can I move to mars?
To be fair, I am a little 'mommy-ish' about making sure they have enough FUEL in them for soccer practice. So yes I did cook them up a snack that accomplished 'dinner'... but in perfect junior high style, they didn't buy it. Soccer practice and a pile of homework later, they were hovering over the stove wondering about the next meal.
Which is when I had the chef-mom opportunity to explain to them that although the pork sauteing in the bacon fat smelled awesome, it truly did have to cook for at least 2 more hours. And then bedtime threatened (hey, it was a late practice, calm down already), and I let them have a few bites of stew meat. But with disclaimer: it might be a bit underdone. My son asks: it is still raw? No, it is quite cooked (I had seared it and it had already simmered for an hour in chicken broth)---but not all meat is created equal.
[Is it just me, or did you hear the eyes roll? Here comes a lecture from mom]: Animals have meat all over, and some meat is exercised and used frequently, like around the legs and shoulders or top of the thighs (aka butt). Those parts of meat are tough, like overworking a bread dough (then quickly, before I lose their attention); other meat is not exercised but is tender and lovely and just needs a quick grill or saute and it is ready to serve---and easily melts in your mouth. The tough pieces need hours in broth to soften, and you cook them until they almost fall apart. But [here the culinary kicks in and I give him the 'serious' look that the chef gives us] you pull the meat right before it gets to that point. Because you want fork tender, not falling apart.
And since I am not good at keeping lectures to a minimum, I added: tougher meats are less expensive. It is good to know how to cook them to make them taste great because someday when you are in college on a tight budget, you will love knowing how to make great food... on a tight budget. And---I love this about him---he listened.
(picture: beef short ribs)