Last week, after going out to dinner with some friends, I was reminded of just how easy it is to have a fabulous eating experience without expensive spices, complex preparations or premium cuts of meat. Case in point: bone marrow.
Hopefully I haven’t repulsed everyone reading this blog with an image of someone sucking the somewhat mysterious, but absolutely delicious, stuff out from the middle of a cow’s femur. Yes, eating bone marrow is a bit bizarre and unsettling, especially if you have never been exposed to it before. But before casting marrow off into the culinary badlands with other less appetizing offal-related dishes like blood sausage or haggis, let me say this about bones in general. Any good cook knows that bones, such as those from a chicken carcass or behind the meat counter make for rich, wonderful stocks. And stocks are the flavor foundation for so many sauces, soups, stews and gravies. Stocks are also great, flavorful mediums in which to cook starches, like pastas, rice and potatoes.
Additionally, cuts of meat that are closer to bones are generally juicier, more tender, and better-tasting than cuts of meat further from the bone. Chicken thighs, wings, and legs are much more flavorful and rich tasting than breast meat, which can be unpleasantly dry and boring. The same goes for many cuts of beef… rib meat is tender, juicy and rich, whereas flank steaks can be drier, leaner and less rich.
The common trend here: proximity to bones=flavor and richness. So logic must lead us to believe that bones contain a lot of flavor and richness. Okay, not the most bulletproof use of logic on my part, but you get the idea: bones are tasty.
So when the marrow bones were served to myself and my friends, I couldn’t wait to dig on in. We were served 3 bones, which had been simply roasted in the oven and served with crusty bread, a simple herb salad and some high quality grey sea salt for sprinkling (the marrow bones are roasted unseasoned). Then we used our teeny little spoons to scoop the marrow out and spread it on our toast. After a small sprinkle of salt, I was ready to dig in! Immediately, I was astounded by the silkiness and richness of the marrow. And even though marrow has a high fat content, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the richness. Instead of being heavy, the marrow was light, but amazingly smooth, velvety and rich at the same time. And even after several good spoonfuls of marrow, my stomach didn’t get upset or overwhelmed by the large amount of fat I had just consumed.
In restaurants, marrow costs a fair amount of money. But thankfully, this amazingly delicious treat doesn’t have to be expensive! In reality, you can get the same marrow bones served in restaurants for free from the meat counter… bones that the meat counter would normally toss out. Finally, marrow bones are stupidly easy to prepare. You just stick the bone cut side up on baking sheet and roast it until the marrow begins to separate from the bone. Spread it on toast, toss on some salt, and you’re in flavor heaven… not to mention how much better they taste knowing they are practically free!
So just in case you’re feeling adventurous and want to try marrow for yourself, here’s a recipe for Roast Marrow Bones with arugula salad. Continue reading Forgotten Foods: Marrow