Roasted Bone Marrow

Roasted Bone Marrow Recipe

I love roasted bone marrow. And I find it encouraging to know that this odd bit once consigned to the soup pot, tossed to the dog, or thrown in the garbage is now finally being appreciated as a dish in its own right.

Our ancestors held bone marrow in high regard. For them–particularly those who lived in marginal areas–it was an important food source. Medieval cooks preferred their bone marrow sweet, adding it to puddings and pastries, while Georgian diners so loved to eat it straight that they commissioned specially designed silver spoons just for the task of scooping it from the bone. Queen Victoria was another roasted bone marrow lover, reputedly eating it every day. The queen lived to the age of 81, and no doubt she, like most Victorians, regarded it as a health food. Bone marrow is also the main ingredient in pemmican, a food that was key to the survival of early explorers in northern Canada, the Arctic, and Antarctica.

Many people avoid roasted bone marrow because it’s fat, but it should be remembered that marrow is 69 percent unsaturated fat. It’s also a very nutritious food, containing iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, and trace amounts of thiamin and niacin. There’s even more good news for marrow lovers: science has shown that the fat of ruminants contains substances that boost and maintain our body’s immune system. So the Victorians were right—it is a health food and definitely way too good for the dog.

While all animals have marrow in their bones, birds have less than most because many of their bones are hollow so they can fly. Veal and beef marrow are the most popular bones because of their very mild flavor and the higher ratio of marrow to bone. Marrow’s more versatile than you might think. Apart from eating it straight from the bone, you can use it like you would any other fat, adding it to dumplings, hamburgers, and dessert. It’s also an excellent fat for sautéing and frying.–Jennifer McLagan

LC O Bone Marrow, Bone Marrow, Wherefore Art Thou Bone Marrow? Note

Author Jennifer McLagan knows her bones. She also knows how to get what she wants. Here, her tried-and-true tactics and tricks for procuring the best bone marrow from your butcher:

• Keep in mind that marrow bones can be cut to any length you want. Ask your butcher for pieces cut from the center of the leg bone, where the ratio of marrow to bone is highest.

• It’s hard to judge how much marrow you will get from any bone, and it ranges widely depending on the thickness of the bone: a 3-inch/7.5-cm bone will yield anywhere from 3/4 to 3 ounces/20 to 90 g, but usually it averages around 1 1/2 ounces/40 g.

• The bones should already be free of meat and should smell clean and faintly meaty. The marrow itself should be whitish pink in color; don’t worry if you can see blood spots on the surface—that’s normal.

• Buy extra bones to be sure you have enough. Bone marrow freezes well in or out of the bone.

• You can also have the bones cut lengthwise: this makes the marrow easy to get at with any spoon—no need for a silver Georgian one.

Roasted Bone Marrow Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 25 M
  • Servings Vary

Ingredients

  • Marrow bones
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions

  • 1. To remove the blood from the marrow, place the bones in a bowl of ice water with 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt per 1 cup water. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water every 4 hours and replacing the salt each time. Drain and refrigerate until you are ready to cook the marrow. Be sure to use it within 24 hours or freeze the drained bones for up to 3 months.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
  • 3. Drain the bones and pat them dry. Place them in a roasting pan. If the bones are cut crosswise, place them standing up; if the bones are cut lengthwise, place them cut side up. Roast for 15 to 25 minutes, until the marrow has puffed slightly and is warm in the center. To test for doneness, insert a metal skewer into the center of the bone, then touch it to your wrist to gauge the marrow’s temperature; the roasted bone marrow should be very hot. There should be no resistance when the skewer is inserted and some of the marrow will have started to leak from the bones. Serve the roasted bone marrow immediately with spoons.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Jan 17, 2013

What an elegant treat this was! New Year’s to me is all about decadent food that’s at the same time comforting. I was excited to have the opportunity to make this recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow last night to ring in the New Year, especially since I’ve had this dish in several French bistro-style restaurants, but never actually at home. This dish is the epitome of classic French cooking to me—simple ingredients, simple methods, but outrageously delicious results. And oh so impressive! Served alongside a warm baguette, this appetizer was a real winner. Rich, creamy bone marrow spread on a piece of crusty bread—you can’t get much more decadent than that. It’s nature’s equivalent of butter on bread. In addition, I loved the introduction and information the author gave on the topic of bone marrow itself. I never knew you had to soak the bones in salted ice water before preparing them, but it makes sense because you need to remove some of the impurities found in the bones themselves. Here are my only comments on the content itself: I sprinkled the tops of the marrow bones with kosher salt right when they came out of the oven for a little added flavor. A fancy, coarse sea salt would work well, too. Secondly, I cooked my bones at 450 for 30 minutes, and the marrow came out perfectly. My grocery store always seems to carry bone marrow, so believe me when I say that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to treat myself to this culinary delight many more times this year!

Testers Choice
Deb Russell

Jan 17, 2013

Although I personally thought the recipe was too long-winded—I’ve made roasted marrow before without the soaking, etc.—but it did turn out perfectly and we thoroughly enjoyed eating it.

Comments
Comments
  1. Zally says:

    mmmm….one of my favorites! Lightly toast slices of baguette. Make a small salad of parsley, chopped green onions, rough chopped capers and lemon zest. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice at the last minute and sprinkle with a good quality of salt. Smear the roasted marrow over the bread and scatter a spoonful of the salad on top. The acid and salt from the salad perfectly complement the richness of the marrow!

  2. The One says:

    Jennifer,
    I can’t wait to make this. I need to find the bones first, but it shouldn’t be a problem in NYC. I think I’ll make them along with Zally’s salad suggestion, accompanied by a nice glass of red wine and I’ll be in heaven. We must rendezvous again at that packed-to-the-nines bistro in Paris that served only mouthwatering beef.

    • Happy New Year, The One! I’m sure you’ll find the bones in one of NYC’s butchers’ shops. In BONES I have a delicious parsley and celery leaf salad, but any salad with a sharp vinaigrette will work. I hope we can rendezvous north of the border. Good food and wine guaranteed.

  3. Jennifer McLagan says:

    You are right, Deborah, soaking is not strictly necessary, but it does remove the blood from the marrow and makes for a “cleaner” looking finished dish. It also helps first-time marrow eaters try it. Not everyone has my love of blood. Perhaps David will post the blood pancake recipe?

  4. I hate posts like these if for no other reason that it makes it EVEN HARDER to find marrow bones. I have to bribe my butcher to set them aside for me as they are now too popular for my liking.

    • David Leite says:

      But…but…but Trevor Sis. Boom, we’re just doing our job. Shining a light into previously undiscovered corners of comestibles so that they become so trendy chic eaters like you go off in huff and find some other mouthful worthy of our pages. So, in the end, it’s culinistas like you who lead us straight to next New-New. See, it’s all your doing! In all seriousness, you can freeze marrow. Vacuum pack them and squirrel them away for future indulging.

    • Dan Kraan says:

      Hey Trevor.Sis.Boom… sorry to learn of your woes. I think, perhaps, your butcher may be putting you on. Do you live in a small town and are limited to one or maybe two butchers? After all, I recently went to my regular butcher, a very popular one at that, and had no problems getting the marrow bones. Add to that the fact that that I was getting them on a whim and that I only paid a couple of bucks for them. Perhaps you should seek out more than one butcher – I actually frequent four of them! As David pointed out, they do freeze, so stock up when you can.

  5. kitchenbeard says:

    I believe I may have to go order these from my butcher. Good thing he’s cute and the shop is a mere 5 blocks from home.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Heh. Few things are sexier than a good-looking man who knows his way around the butcher block, eh, kitchenbeard?!

  6. dcangah says:

    I tried roasting some bone narrow last night. We love marrow from lamb shoulder bones, and we enjoyed the beef marrow over bread, as I’d heard some other people recommend. (My market didn’t have baguettes, so I ended up using crusty Italian bread.) It was very economical, too, as it’s definitely something to eat in moderation.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Lovely to hear it, dcangah! And yeah, definitely in moderation. But oooooh so satiating.

  7. i just love bone marrow all the way. i used to stuff it into a rice ball and baked until the outer layer is perfectly crusted and the bome marrow is softened and slighly melted….

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      oh good grief, dedy, you can’t tease us like that and then leave us hanging! do you happen to still have that recipe handy? would you mind snapping a picture of it and sharing it with us? it sounds phenomenal….

  8. I love bone marrow, have not tried roasted yet only cooked, but looking forward to try this recipe also.

  9. Kit Chen says:

    just tried it for the first time. cooked it exactly as the recipe. looked great.

    the taste, just as you’d expect. a mushy fatty gelatiny oily mess on toast.

    Anthony bourdain loves anti culinary foods as he pulled one over on everyone.

    try a nice juicy T-bone and then try this, the scraps left over from that great meal and see

    for yourself. it wasn’t awful, just nothing to write home about. next!

    • David Leite says:

      Hey Kit, sorry you didn’t enjoy it. Different fats for different folks. Personally, I’m not a bone marrow fan. A few years back we were with Jennifer McLagan at a Paris restaurant that specialized in meat, and there were people picking up marrow bones and licking them practically pornographically. (Not naming names: The One.)

      • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

        Yet another manner in which we diverge, boss. Loooooove bone marrow. But only when roasted to perfection and not fettered with anchovies or oregano or oysters or any of the other stuff some chefs inflict on marrow bones. Cripes, now I’m craving roasted bone marrow though it’s like 80 degrees out….

  10. Zally says:

    mmmm…..last week I made some white beans simmered with marrow and onions…..
    lots of fresh ground black pepper, sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley and some diced tomato when done.

  11. Rattilda Mae says:

    Mmmmmmm,marrow! What could be better in chilly or just plain cold weather?
    My favorite method is to rub a long cross cut bone with a cut garlic clove and a grind of fresh pepper prior to roasting and then dolloping on crostini.

  12. johanna says:

    I’ve always loved bone marrow. My mom cooked it for us weekly, especially in winter, when we were kids, but I don’t remember her ever removing the blood by that salting and soaking step. Question: What are the pros and cons, healthwise, of removing the blood? If the beef is pasture-raised, does it matter that much if blood is NOT removed? Thanx.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Johanna, excellent question. I defer to the creator of the recipe, whom I’ve asked to respond to your query…

  13. Johanna, the soaking of the bones is simply for looks, it is not necessary at all. I do it because it often people balk at the black bloods spots in the cooked marrow, especially if it the first time for them. Other cuts like sweetbreads and testicles are soaked in salted water to remove the blood. Go right ahead and cook your bones without soaking them.

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