Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Nose to Tail Tuesday (N3T) - Bone Marrow

It’s been a while but you have been very patient, for which I am most grateful. So thank you.

There has been no slacking, I promise. But I have had a rather surreal couple of weeks.

I’ve taken part in a pilot for a new TV quiz show, been spoonfed sea urchin by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, spilled pink wine over a renowned stand-up comic and Radio 4 stalwart, listened to a restaurant critic talk about his masturbatory preferences, watched buffalo mozzarella being made and dined with a former F1 world champion in his rather palatial house.


I’ve also been snowed under with teaching, what with it being exam season and all. There’s a dichotomy for you – hob-nobbing with ‘slebs one minute and then trying to teach the finer points of the British constitutional settlement the next.

No wonder there’s been little time for writing. There’s been hardly enough time to eat, let alone trot out a few hundred words about each experience.

But on with the show.

Today Nose to Tail Tuesday makes its triumphant return with a genuine Fergus Henderson classic: roasted bone marrow (marrow also features in a braised beef dish which shall, hopefully, follow at around 12 noon British Summer Time tomorrow).

It’s thought that eating bone marrow was what contributed to one of our species’ great leaps forward, sometime around 750,000 years ago.

Nutritionally rich and inaccessible to non-tool wielding creatures, marrow enabled early hominids to lead lives less focussed on where the next meal was coming from, giving them time to develop such skills as conversation, sarcasm and perfecting the Cruyff turn.

It has long been a fixture of French cuisine (in Bordelaise Sauce, par example) but has been largely ignored on this Fair Isle in favour of McTucky’s Fried Chicken and other such culinary abominations.

But no longer.

I have to admit, I was excited about this one. After Kidney-gate (not to mention the potential Great Tripe Ordeal of May 2009) I was keen to get back on track with something that appealed.

Anthony Bourdain is a man whose opinion I trust on just about everything. I blame him almost entirely for my food fixation. So, when he says that his last meal on earth would be roasted bone marrow on toast, I’m willing to bow to his judgement. I knew before I started that this would be delicious.

Getting hold of the necessary ingredients is easy and free. Yes, you heard me right: free. Your friendly neighbourhood butcher might just leap over the counter and plant a big meaty kiss on that pretty, or handsome, face of yours when you ask to relieve him of his bones.

Why? Because otherwise he has to pay the local council to have them taken away and disposed of. The less he has to put in those big black sacks, the better. Grab some pig skin and chicken carcasses whilst you’re at it. And don’t forget to actually buy something.

Walk out of there with nothing but a bag of freebies and that kiss might just be followed by a face full of spittle.

Having sourced the goods, have someone (maybe the butcher, maybe a carpenter or amiable tree surgeon) saw the bone into 2-3 inch chunks. Place them, standing up, in a roasting tray and then put the whole lot into an oven (let’s say 180 degrees C) for about 20 minutes.

And relax. You’re done (apart from toasting some bread).

Oh, the smells, the glorious meaty smells. The slightly disturbing shimmer of the now jelly-like marrow. The trepidation. The excitement. The…

…absolute, complete, wondrous deliciousness of the final product. Served on toast with a pinch of sea salt, this is something new, something fabulous.

If you poached a fresh egg in butter and then served it on toast, perfectly seasoned, you would have something similar to roasted bone marrow. But not quite as nice.

It is sweet and faintly meaty and soft and buttery and rich and salty and the crunch from the toast is the perfect foil to the texture of the marrow itself. It is one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. Tony, once again, you are correct.

And all this for minimal effort and negligible cost.

N3T4 – Roasted Bone Marrow: a great big hunk of success.

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Alicia Foodycat said...

Oh that looks lovely! I had it at St john's last week (swank swank swank) and I want to cook it myself.

And how did you swing the visit to Jody Scheckter?

Unknown said...

All I can say is Delish!!! People just don't know what they're missing!

Katie said...

That looks amazing although I dont know if I have the guts to try it!!!

Carolyn Jung said...

I love bone marrow. It's such pure decadence. Try it with some parsley salad next time, a la St. John's. It's a great combo that helps cut some of that lovely richness.

The Ample Cook said...

I've been meaning to try this for ages - looks fabulous as do your beef ribs. They look unctuous.

Re nose to tale - you might like to check this out:

CM said...

I said goddamn!!
I friggin' love marrow on toast, or plain, whatever, I'm not picky.
We used to have an osso bucco on the menu at the restaurant. The bones came back untouched like 98% of the time- so disappointing to see them hit the bin.

Kavey said...

I do adore bone marrow. Used to fight over marrow bones when me and sis were kids...