Roasted bone marrow is the finest delicacy that costs next to nothing. Try it on toasted sourdough, and butter will never taste as good again.
Marrow bones for healthy bones
Marrow bones are the thick, fat, big ones, usually from the cow’s legs (I think. Google seems vague about it). The benefits of bone marrow have been appreciated for ages, mainly by turning the bones into the best, nutritious broth.
Marrow contains collagen which is essential in bone building and bone deterioration preventing, as well as all that stuff about healthy hair, skin and nails. It also helps fight joint wear and tear, osteoarthritis, and it has considerable anti-inflammatory properties (vegans – eat your hearts out).
Marrow for (chefs’) healthy profit
But not so long ago chefs discovered that marrow, that gooey fat scraped from inside of the roasted bones – so basically what you would normally throw away – can be sold to punters as a ten quid starter. Money for old bone, eh?
They are roasted and arranged decoratively on narrow serving plates, looking like miniature tree stumps or models of Devils Tower from Wyoming. They come with long and narrow spoons and a (usually too skimpy) piece of toast to spread the goodness on. A few salt flakes, kerching! a tenner.
Marrow for superpowers
For those who think it’s a bit gross to suck out marrow, a bit like drinking blood, let me point out how madly trendy it has become of late.
There are some urban legends attaching superpowers, nutrition-wise, to bone marrow; probably devised by devoted paleo dieters: the image of a Neolithic man waving a big bone about and setting down to suck the marrow from it in one long slurp sounds irresistible.
And then of course there’s the actual Marrow: frankly rather a repulsive Marvel character who manipulates her own bones to fashion weapons, spears and projectiles spurting out of her limbs. No intel whether they are powered by the marrow inside.
How to cook marrow bones
Marrow does contain omega-3 fatty acids and a host of minerals but it is mainly fat. It is delicious, creamy and it requires no particular cooking skills to make a tasty appetiser.
It is a doddle: roasting for about 20 minutes does it. The one difficulty is finding a butcher who sells them as they are not normally advertised or presented on display so it’s worth asking.
They are likely to let you have them at a ridiculously low price too: that’s it, apart from everything else marrow bones are super cheap.
The other problem is chopping them into manageable pieces. You need to either own a junior hacksaw or buy from amenable butcher who will saw the bones into portions.
But if you didn’t ask the butcher to cut the bones for you, don’t panic. Grab the bone with folded kitchen towels and saw an incision around the circumference with a junior hacksaw. Place a sturdy large knife in the crack and tap it with a mallet or a rolling pin to split the bone piece.
How to serve your marrow
Once roasted, scoop the marrow with a narrow butter knife or a slender spoon.
Spread it on toast or a crust of freshly baked sourdough and butter will never taste as good to you. Roasted marrow with flaky salt sprinkled over it is the essence of umami.
But you can make fancier topping for your feast as well, like the herb and anchovy paste below, just divine.
More healthy appetiser recipes
Beetroot and horseradish cured salmon, or gravadlax, gets the fantastic colour from the beet. Cured salmon is really easy to prepare and it needn’t be made in huge quantities, but it will disappear sooner than you think!
Fresh cucumbers with cumin tahini dressing, sprinkled with extra sesame seeds are crunchy, juicy and wonderfully refreshing.
Hot butterflied tiger prawns in a spicy marinade by Ottolenghi. Grill them, fry them or barbecue them as long as you’re quick – they only need a minute in the pan.
More high protein recipes
Negimaki-style veal escalopes, marinated in teriyaki and sliced across like sushi rolls. A party snack with a wow-factor or a dish for the special dinner à deux.
Steak tartare with crispy capers should be served deconstructed, the diner mixing it to their taste. My secret to perfect tartare is three Cs: the cut, the chop and the crunch.
Cured duck breast meat, tonnes of umami flavour produced over three days with just salt and sugar. Homemade prosciutto, and it’s lean and healthy if you discard the skin.