Gods Butter (Bone Marrow)
More than twenty years ago Chef Fergus Henderson (author of The Whole Beast: nose to tail eating) introduced a long-forgotten staple to the menu of his St. John restaurant in London as part of it’s opening menu. The much lauded “retro” dish has since become a classic and remains on the menu to this day.
Before we go any further, a cautionary note: Rightly or wrongly Bone marrow has been linked to Mad Cow Disease, I’m not entering that debate, but for me the idiots who think it’s OK to update their Facebook status while driving the kids to school pose a greater threat to my well-being than eating the occasional meal of bone marrow. It’s your choice.
Bone Marrow has dropped out of the western culinary landscape and to a large degree is now a enjoying a rebirth as a speciality of high end restaurants. It is however still readily obtainable from any domestic butcher, and it’s cheap!
Often described as Gods Butter, Bone Marrow is fatty, nutrient rich and ridiculously luxuriant!
Bone Marrow is one of the body’s building blocks, there are two kinds, Red and Yellow. Red bone marrow is responsible for creating blood cells (red, white and platelets) and Yellow produces fat, cartilage and bone. For our culinary purposes, it just means that sometimes you’ll see red pigment and blood vessels in the bone marrow, if you think this will make your guests squeamish, soak the bones in a simple brine overnight to leech out the colour before cooking.
Roasting and Smoking are my two preferred techniques for cooking Bone marrow, I like to keep it reasonably simple. It’s such a stunning product there is really no need to get too clever, a simple dust with salt and pepper is enough before cooking, but I have been known to use a little BBQ rub or herbed breadcrumbs. To say this is simple cooking is an understatement! What could be easier than putting pieces of cut bone on a dish and into the BBQ?
Roasted Marrow Bones
Soak the bones in a brine of 1 tablespoon of salt per litre of water overnight to extract any remaining blood and bleach the bones a little. I never bother with this step, I’m happy with the honest rustic look.
- Place the bones on an oven proof dish to catch any marrow that leaks out when it is warmed.
- Roast until the marrow is just warm in the centre, it only takes15 to 25 minutes and you don’t want to overcook it.
- It’s ready when a little of the marrow has melted and started to leak from the bones.
- Serve the marrow bones hot with toasted sourdough and a simple side salad.
I won’t copy it here but Chef Fergus Henderson’s Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad is easily found with a google search and is dead easy to make at home. Try it first then start to experiment.
I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t have bone marrow every day, but I’d be more than happy to! I know why Anthony Bourdain is addicted to Fergus Henderson’s simple dish, try it once and you will be as well!
This is my version (in pictures):