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Roasting bone marrow at home

bonemarrowHave you ever tried roasting bone marrow at home? When I mentioned doing so recently to some friends — foodie friends — they asked, “Yum?” And, yes, yum is right!

If you’ve never made it, you’re missing out on this nutrient-rich, delightfully decadent, surprisingly inexpensive and exceedingly simple dish. The trick is to avoid thinking about what exactly you’re eating.

Check with your meat provider to purchase marrow bones or purchase them at Whole Foods for $2.69/lb. Our CSA farmer raises cattle, so we order ours from him and keep a supply in the freezer. Whenever you have a good crusty loaf of bread, pull out a couple of bones and roast them for a little marrow to slather on the bread.

Anthony Bourdain made famous the parsley-caper-lemon salad that is now a standard accompaniment for roasted bone marrow. In Melanie Dunea’s book, My Last Supper, Bourdain cites this version from the dining room at St. John in London as his chosen last meal. The brightness and acidity of the lemon and parsley make it a nice contrast to the greasy-rich, beefy and buttery substance that you scoop out of the bones after they are roasted.

When I made this dish recently, I assembled a similar salad with components from my fridge and pantry. A full parsley salad would have depleted the entire supply in my garden, so I opted for a peppery arugula base. I added preserved lemon, sliced shallots, fried capers (you’ve got to try fried capers!) and Maldon sea salt. I tossed it in a pomegranate vinaigrette for a touch of sweetness.

To roast your own bone marrow, soak the bones in a bowl of water for a couple of hours, which will drain the blood. Pat dry and top with a generous sprinkling of salt, garlic and parsley. Roast at 425 for about 20 minutes or until the marrow is soft and spoons out easily.

You can eat the marrow smeared on a slice of toasted bread or throw it and the salad, too, on top of a burger. As we move into cooler temperatures and begin to crave richer comfort foods, add this one to your repertoire.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

20 comments Add your comment

Victor

September 23rd, 2011
1:14 pm

St. John, London has bone marrow uni spread on toast. Unreal.

Lorenzo

September 23rd, 2011
2:04 pm

How “nutrient-rich” is marrow, really? Marrow is delicious, but I’ve always thought it was mostly composed of some form of fat (and your use of “decadent” in the same sentence suggests that may be what you mean). Marrow certainly has a fatty mouthfeel. Sure, fat is a nutrient, and our caveman ancestors may have benefited from eating marrow in that respect, but is marrow really a good nutritional choice for most of us, given that there is rarely any lack of fat in our diets? What other nutrients does marrow contain that might offset the negative effects of the fat content? Enough that it is realistic to call marrow “nutrient-rich”?

Mark

September 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

This is a case where I’m superstitious enough to be very careful about sourcing my bone marrow. Marrow is reputedly one of the few places outside the brain/spinal cord where the prions that cause mad cow disease may be found. These prions in turn may also be the cause of so called variant Creutzfeld Jakob disease, a potentially fatal brain infection. I sure wouldn’t consume marrow from mass produced mainstream beef, given the risk that they may have been fed animal byproducts. Here, I’d only trust beef from grass-fed beef from a producer you can trust.

FoodFan

September 23rd, 2011
3:35 pm

I am with Lorenzo here on the unknown nutritive qualities of bone marrow. While delicious, it’s pretty much fat, pure & simple. Delicious, beefy fat – but fat nonetheless. Never really seen bone marrow listed on the food pyramid or anywhere else speaking of it’s nutritious qualities!

Fare is Fare

September 23rd, 2011
4:07 pm

Perhaps you bone marrow lovers could donate your bodies to PETA, then Elsie and her friends could enjoy some tasty human bone marrow as they’re grazing the pasture. In fact, being cud chewers, they could enjoy it twice.

James

September 23rd, 2011
4:28 pm

@Lorenzo – Yes, from a macronutrient standpoint marrow is mostly fat, and a little bit of protein. As for micronutrients, it’s also a good source of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, lecithin, and methionine – not surprising given its biological role (this is also why “bone broth” is considered to have medicinal qualities for various ailments). And most of the fat in it is monounsaturated – even the misguided anti-fat nazis will acknowledge this as a “healthy fat”, as it raises “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers the “bad” LDL. Foods high in MUFAs are even being studied as a treatment for certain degenerative disorders, including Alzheimers disease.

So yeah, no need to bring any guilt to the marrow table :)

Sandy

September 23rd, 2011
7:57 pm

I buy a pack of marrow bones occasionally at Publix and bring them home and season them and roast them up and…give them (well, one at a time) to the dog. They do smell delicious as they’re roasting, but it looks like there’s crunchy bits or sinew or something in there that just does not appeal to me. The dog, however, thinks they are heavenly.

kmb

September 23rd, 2011
8:32 pm

To do this right, one must eat the marrow with a marrow spoon. They can be found in antique silver stores.

Jenny Turknett

September 24th, 2011
6:24 am

You’re right, kmb. And they can be very difficult to find!

N-GA

September 24th, 2011
7:41 am

Yes,bone marrow may not be nutritious but it is delicious and most of us enjoy it regularly (just not often in its “natural” form).

Marrow bones are typically roasted to make the perfect base for stocks (soups, gravies, sauces). The marrow melts, then caramelizes and is subsequently re-constituted with liquid and aromatics. Marrow is also released while cooking Osso Bucco and other similar dishes. It is one source of the amazing flavor and texture in the sauce.

Everything in moderation…….

CP

September 24th, 2011
9:19 am

Parsley / lemon / caper is pretty common in Italian cooking, no Anthony Bourdain did not invent it. When it’s made with garlic instead of capers, it’s called “gremolata.” As for feeding PETA ~ let those hypocrites harvest the bone marrow out of the thousands of animals they kill at their animal “shelter” at headquarters in Virginia. http://www.petakillsanimals.org

Jessamine

September 24th, 2011
9:39 am

I freeze them and give them to my dogs. They get one a night so please don’t make them all gourmet and jack up the price on me. :)

To the person roasting them and giving them to their dogs, you shouldn’t cook them. Cooked bones are more brittle, which makes them easier to break apart and your pup could choke or have a blockage from swallowing a piece. Just freeze them and that helps to control the mess made as they’re eaten. I usually give them to my pups on a towel that I don’t care about.

kmb

September 24th, 2011
10:58 am

Actually, marrow spoons are not that hard to find. The problem is almost no one knows what they look like or asks for them at the stores. Therefore, they are misidentified. Most turn-of-the-century sterling silver sets had them. Perhaps, if someone could place a photograph of one on your bloog, people who have inherited their great-grandmother’s or grandmother’s silver service will recognize what that small spoon was intended to be used for.

Love to Eat!

September 24th, 2011
11:05 am

Never thought about roasted bone marrow until Bourdain’s No Reservations. Wow!

Baltisraul

September 25th, 2011
9:03 am

If it tastes good, eat it! A great way to go thru life!

Jenny Turknett

September 25th, 2011
12:21 pm

CP – you’re right that Bourdain didn’t “invent” the combo, but he did popularize it as an accompaniment for roasted bone marrow. kmb – Once I find a marrow spoon (and I know what they look like) I’ll post a picture. I haven’t found one in Atlanta. Baltisraul -I like your spirit!

kmb

September 25th, 2011
2:08 pm

Jenny:

Their pictures are on the Internet. It tried to copy and paste one for you but it didn’t work.

nora

September 25th, 2011
8:51 pm

Okay, I for one am relived to find out it is okay to eat bone marrow! I love it. When I make soup, I always get the cross cut shanks so that I can get the tasty marrow. But I’ve always been a little worried about whether it was safe to eat because of mad cow disease. I somehow had the impression that the organism responsible was in the bone marrow.

Lorenzo

September 26th, 2011
4:59 pm

Thanks, James–the micronutrient info is what I was interested in. However, I think I’ll pass on increasing my marrow intake above the once-a-year or twice-a-year treat it already is for me, since I have to believe those micronutrients can be obtained from other sources, and the massive amount of fat outweighs the benefit. Heart disease is no joke.

Jenny Turknett

September 26th, 2011
6:50 pm

Kmb – I realize that but we must have permission to post photos that we have not taken. Therefore, if I obtain a spoon, I’ll gladly photograph it and post it!