Once upon a time the extent of my knowledge of marrow bone was to invert it to ‘bone marrow’ and start quoting ‘complex’ script extracts from mid-seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.
While recently researching cooking tips for marrow bone, not to be confused with web-browsing Patrick Dempsey, I came across this informative site: http://wayofthesun.com/marrowbone/index.htm. I immediately sent my crushed velvet dirdel to the dry cleaners and brushed up on my early-century forest poetry.
This site has tempted me to digress deep into the dark woods and explore recreation by way of recreation, or niche poetry readings in the forest, but will save this concept for an inevitable later post about game season and Bambi…and my love for Buck Hunter…or Tofu Hunter (http://games.adultswim.com/tofu-hunter-action-online-game.html) to which I was recently introduced by a vegetarian friend of mine.
Digression aside, bone marrow is the flexible tissue stored in the interior of bones. Usually, the bone marrow we eat comes from calves, their femur (thigh) bones to be more precise.
My renewed interest in marrow bone arose last week in class. We poached marrow bone in stock with a mirepoix and melted the fatty goodness (along with parsley butter) under a grill and into our Flintstone-esque 800g grilled beef prime ribs. I knew at this moment that never at home would I ever be able to prepare such a delicious and mammoth contribution to the world of meat consumption. Neither my heart nor my cholesterol would ever continue to believe the little white lie I’ve been telling them for years: “Don’t worry guys, marrow bone is good fat…just like avocados.
I don’t like to entertain this debate often, it makes me sad to debate the fat content, rather than the deliciousness, of food…I just go out for bone marrow.
I know it’s predictable, but the roasted bone marrow salad at St John’s in London is delicious (http://www.stjohnrestaurant.co.uk/) . The night I devoured this dish I was also the proud consumer (amongst company) of a whole roasted suckling pig, a log of froi gras and litres of wine, all part of their summer feasting menu. It wasn’t pretty. It was some what Roman in a chic gourmand nose-to-tail kind of way. I tell myself that whilst eating the good fats in avocado.
Here is the recipe (narrated and annotated to my preference) in case you do want to attack bone marrow in your own kitchen:
12 x 7-8 cm pieces middle veal marrow bones (ask your butcher to cut them for you unless you feel like channelling Patrick Bateman)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped (other green herbs can be added also)
2 shallots, very thinly sliced (soaking them in water first takes the bite out of them)
1 small handful extra-fine capers (or larger capers sliced to size)
1 lemon, juice only
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground salt and black pepper
toast (preferably waxy baguette or toasted sour dough), to serve
1. Preheat your oven to 190C/gas 5.
2. Roast the bones for 20 minutes in a saute or roasting pan, until the marrow loosens but is not melting away (be careful, it will start to disolve if you over cook it....such a waste).
3. Combine the parsley, shallots and capers in a small bowl and dress with lemon juice and olive oil.
4. Finally season the salad as you like with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Eat...if you need instructions...scrape the marrow from the bones onto the toast and season with a little coarse sea salt - flavoured sea salt is even better. Top with a small spoonful of parsley salad.
I never doubted the French would find a way to serve me bone marrow only remotely located near a salad and in immediate proximity to proteins and creamy, cheese covered potatoes Dauphinois.
At La Taverne De L'arbre Sec (109 Rue Saint-honore, 75004 Paris, 01 08 99 78 61 69) I have never ordered anything but the Cote de Beouf. Your meal is served on a large wooden slab (for lack of a better word) which consumes the table as you consume your beef. It is nothing fancy, true, and I’m sure many Parisians will say they have their own favourite unassuming corner bistro which does the same, but this is mine.
The marrow when spread, or awkwardly balanced, on the chewy baguette and then corrupted further (in the best way) by the parsley salt is dangerously tasty. I am slightly ashamed to share just how much satisfaction I derive from this simple act of consumption...perhaps I should try bone marrow at home...with the rest of Season Six, Grey's Anatomy.