The saying about all things old becoming new again is true. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors instinctively feasted on the marrow inside of the bones of their kill knowing intuitively that it was the most nutritious part of the animal. Years later, many ancient cultures still believed in the medicinal properties of marrow and used it as a special dietary supplement for young children. We know now that marrow also provides an exceptional source of the omega-3s and vitamins required for healthy brain development and has anti-inflammation properties. If it sounds like I’m trying to sell you on this dish… maybe I am just a bit. The reason being that the idea of eating the inside of a roasted cow bone doesn’t exactly evoke ‘first date’ fantasies. To be sure, for some it’s an acquired taste, but this truly is a delicacy that you owe to yourself to experience.
Today in many parts of the world, bone marrow is still considered a culinary delicacy. Recently, in America it’s becoming fashionable mostly appearing on both gastropub and upscale chef driven menus.
It wasn’t that long ago that diners were asking if there were any of these bones to take home for their dogs… now they are ordering it for themselves.
My first introduction to bone marrow was when I first enjoyed the classic Italian dish ‘Osso Bucco’ which was a cross-cut veal shank slow braised in stock until tender, traditionally served atop saffron scented risotto. Literally meaning ‘bone with the hole’ referring to the marrow in the center of the bone, the marrow was a delicious byproduct of this dish so valued that ornate spoons and forks were designed in order to eat and celebrate this delicacy. Osso Bucco is still one of my favorite cool weather dishes still today, especially when entertaining, as it can be made ahead, held warm, and dished up at a moment’s notice. In fact, I promise to share my recipe for this in a later post.
So what actually is bone marrow? Bone marrow is the rich, gelatinous substance found inside animal bones. It is rich and intensely flavored and is not only being served on its own, but also incorporated into flavorings and toppings for other foods. When roasted it first begins to soften, then melt, and will eventually liquefy. The transformation of its flavor is not all that different to what happens to garlic when roasted or simmered in oil. Its flavor becomes buttery and a bit nutty and needs only a grind of pepper and sea salt to be enjoyed spread on crusty bread. So I strongly recommend you go have a little chat with your local butcher and have him set you up with s couple of these ‘Flintstonian’ looking shanks. Their preparation couldn’t be simpler and if you really want to enhance your ‘street cred’ as an adventurous home cook, I guarantee you that these are your ticket to doing just that Fred.
Recipe – Fred’s Roasted Marrow Bones
This first step is not one that all cooks follow but I recommend it as it pulls any traces of blood out of the bones. Place the bones in a bowl of ice water with 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt per 1 cup water and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water once, replacing the salt as well. Drain and refrigerate until you are ready to cook. Make marrow bone crust next.
» 2 each Marrow bones, pre-soaked
» 1-1/2 TBS Marrow bone breading (see below)
» 1 cup Arugula
» ½ ounce Diced red onions
» 1 tsp. Capers drained
» 1 tsp. Your favorite simple vinaigrette
» 1 tsp. Chopped parsley
» 1 slice Grilled or tasted bread
Place bones cut side up in saute pan and sprinkle the marrow heavily with the breading mix. Place pan in 500 degree oven for approximately 12-15 minutes until browned. Note: Marrow should be just warmed but not cooked to the degree where it starts to liquefy. Test by inserting a small knife in the center for 5 seconds and test on your wrist for heat temp. Place bones side by side on one end of plate. Place arugula, red onions, capers, and vinaigrette in small bowl and toss briefly. Place salad on opposite end of plate. Sprinkle bones with parsley and stack grilled bread on top of bones.
Recipe – Marrow Bone Breading
» 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs, finely ground
» 1/2 cup Grated parmesan
» 1 TBS Prepared horseradish
» 1 tsp. Ground black pepper
» 2 tsp. Kosher Salt
Combine all ingredients in small bowl and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.