One of my favoritest foods from my childhood was Chinese-style stewed duck wings. The wings themselves were delicious, but the bonus was the marrow inside the bones. The marrow had also been stewed in the sauce and was now extra delicious. I would crack the bones to get the marrow out and man, it is one of the most delicious things, ever. Thinking about it now is tempting me to take a bus home to get a few dozen…
Humans have been eating bone marrow since, like, forever, dude. In fact, it may very well be due to the nutritious value of bone marrow that we’re even around today. From Wikipedia:
[A]round two million years ago, telltale cut marks on the surface of animal bones reveal that early humans were using crude stone tools to smash open the bones and extract the marrow. Stone tools allowed early Homo to get at a food source that no other creature was able to obtain — bone marrow. Bone marrow contains long chain fatty acids that are vital for brain growth and development. This helped further fuel the increase in brain size, allowing our ancestors to make more complex tools.
Sad to say, my brain did not improve very much from the duck marrow as I was an average student who then picked up the average hobby of poking balls around on a table with a stick and now works at an average job.
Anthony Bourdain is the culinary curmudgeon who alerted the masses to the wonder that is bone marrow. He said, “If God made butter it would taste exactly like bone marrow.”
|In the book My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals, Bourdain says his “death row meal” would be the Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad served by Fergus Henderson at his restaurant, St. JOHN, in London.|
This recipe has since been made a bazillion times and posted all over the internet. I’m a little late to the roasted bone marrow party, but what the hell. Better late than never. 🙂
A few years ago, it was pretty easy to find marrow bones for cheap at my local supermarket. After Bourdain’s little mention, marrow bones got all patrician and sh#t and all the restaurants (and foodies) started snapping them up. The result: no more marrow bones at the supermarket for 50 cents a pound. Sad face.
I got 3-4 pounds of beef marrow bones from a nice butcher shop and they cut them in half for me. They were around $3.00 a pound which was definitely more expensive than before, but not terribly so. Ideally, I would have gotten veal bones but hey, let’s not push the envelope of my pool player budget.
Cover a baking pan in foil (seriously serious this will help with the clean-up later) and stand the marrow bones vertically, with the larger end at the bottom.
|Preheat the oven to 450F.|
|Roast your marrow bones for 20 minutes, which is just before the marrow completely liquefies. Any longer and you’ll be left with melted fat.|
|Also, I really need to clean my toaster oven.|
While the marrow roasts, prepare the parsley salad. I like to prepare it ahead of time to give the flavors a little time to meld.
|You will need olive oil, lemon juice, capers, and Italian (flat-leaf) parsley.|
|And 1 large shallot or 2 non-mutant shallots.|
|Thinly slice the shallot.|
|The original recipe calls for 1 cup of roughly chopped parsley.|
|I use just the leaves from the parsley. I have about 1-1/2 cups of leaves here because I like to make a little more salad than the recipe calls for.|
|Using a salad spinner is great for getting the leaves as dry as possible, but if that is too much trouble (it was for me), just blot dry as well as you can with paper towels.|
|Roughly chop the parsley leaves.|
|Pour 2 tablespoons of good-quality olive oil into a bowl. The better quality the olive oil, the better everything will taste. Seriously. Serious.|
|Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.|
|I deviate here from the original recipe by adding juuuust a tiny dab of Dijon mustard.|
|The mustard acts as an emulsifer and keeps the oil and lemon juice from separating. We’ll visit this super-power called “emulsion” in a future post, but for now, just know that it’s A Good Thing.|
|Whisk it all.|
|The mustard acts like a nice rug in a room and really ties everything together.|
|Add the sliced shallots, chopped parsley, and 1 tablespoon capers.|
|You can add more or less of each ingredient as it suits you. For example, I often add more capers and then add less salt later.|
|Toss everything together. Taste, adjust seasonings or ingredients until you like it, add salt and pepper.|
Ding! That’s the timer on your oven telling you the marrow is ready for wanton consumption.
|Carefully take the pan out of the oven and set it down on a non-meltable, non-flammable surface.|
The marrow will be soft and have the consistency of butter. Meat butter. Yessss.
I like to give my cat the marrow bones after I’m done. She enjoys licking the roasted bits of meat from the surface of the bones and whatever marrow I leave behind. I imagine dogs would like that, too.
|While the marrow sits for a minute or two, cut some slices from a baguette. You can toast them if you like, but it is not necessary. They do taste rather nice when lightly toasted. I did not toast mine because I was lazy.|
|The original recipe calls for “country” bread which is bigger in diameter than a baguette. I like making bite-sized (or two-bite-sized) food bits for ease of consumption. Also, you get to play more with your food. 😀|
If you’re feeling extra hoity-toity, you can arrange all the elements prettily on a plate. I put one bone, a few slices of baguette, some parsley salad, and a small dish of sea salt and fresh-ground pepper on a pasta plate.
Using a small spoon or butter knife (my metal measuring spoons actually worked perfectly here), scoop out some marrow and spread it on a baguette slice. Top with a little of the parsley salad. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over it all and enjoy.
Then run five miles at top speed after you’re done to even things out.
If I were a wealthy, non-pool player type person, I would get veal marrow bones. Below is Fergus Henderson’s original recipe from Bon Appetit (click on link for a really nice printer-friendly version). Serves 4.
Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad
- 8 3″-4″-long pieces veal marrow bones
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- Coarse gray sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 1/2″-thick slices rustic white bread, toasted
Preheat oven to 450°.
Place bones, wider cut side down, in an ovenproof skillet or roasting pan. Roast bones until marrow is soft and begins to separate from bone but before it begins to melt, 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of bones.
Meanwhile, toss parsley, shallots, oil, lemon juice, and capers in a medium bowl to coat. Season salad to taste with gray sea salt and pepper.
Divide marrow bones and salad among plates. Serve with toast and gray sea salt. Using a long, thin spoon, scoop marrow onto toast, top with salad, and garnish with a pinch or two of salt.
This post for Billiard Traveler and people who like bone marrow (zombies included).