Using Marrow In Your Cooking

Anyone who is enrolled in online cooking classes should explore the rich flavors and distinctive texture of bone marrow.

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January 18, 2016 5 min read
Bone marrow offers chefs a rich and distinctive flavor.

Bone marrow offers chefs a rich and distinctive flavor.

Anyone who is enrolled in online cooking classes should explore the rich flavors and distinctive texture of bone marrow. Chefs have found many intriguing and delectable uses for this fatty substance drawn from the interior of bones. Properly prepared, marrow serves well as an ingredient, appetizer, side or spread. If you can find ways to incorporate this delightful offal into your own culinary repertoire, it will will give your dishes a delicious touch that makes them stand out.

Why bone marrow?
Bone marrow is used in cuisines around the world, appreciated for both its flavor and nutritional content. The Daily Mail explained that the offal is high in fat and protein. Hence, while marrow remains a novel dish to some diners, many others have embraced it, including those who adhere to high-protein diets and advocates of nose-to-tail eating.

“Marrow is high in fat and protein.”

In American dining, beef marrow is generally roasted and often appears on toast along with parsley salad. As the New York Times pointed out, this dish popularized by English chef Fergus Henderson provides sharp flavor contrasts among the fatty tissue, herbs and lemon juice.

However, the offal is employed in many other culinary applications. Beef marrow is the key ingredient in bulalo, a Filipino stew, as well as the broth for the Vietnamese noodle soup, pho. The Italian dish ossobuco consists of crosscut veal shanks braised with a white wine and meat broth.

Roasting marrow
The bone marrow served in restaurants is usually drawn from the femurs of beef cows. Bon Appetit explained that chefs prefer these straight, thick bones because they are easier to cut open so the fatty tissue can be extracted.

Speaking to Eater, Ken Oringer of New York City restaurant Toro recommended purchasing beef bones that are at least four inches long, for both the quantity and richness of the marrow. A butcher will likely split the bones for you with a bandsaw, but you can also hack them open yourself using an old knife or meat cleaver. You don’t want to use your best knives to chip away at bone, as they will be ruined.

According to Oringer, you should soak the split bones in salty water overnight prior to cooking. Soaking will draw out the blood from the bone and result in firmer marrow that is easier to roast. Bon Appetit argued that soaking is unnecessary, but agreed on the importance of seasoning. Add plenty of salt before roasting the marrow to maximize its flavor.

Place the marrow in an oven heated to at least 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes. A sign that the tissue is properly cooked is that it is a springy to the touch, like gelatin. However, a higher temperature and longer cooking time will give the marrow a caramelized exterior. If that brown crust is what you’re after, set your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for about 20 minutes.

Try experimenting with other ingredients that will complement or contrast with the rich fat. Serious Eats suggested several variations on preparing the marrow to give it added flair, such as coating it with breadcrumbs or flour to achieve a crisp, golden exterior. Before roasting, you might also spread a butter flavored with herbs or anchovies, a glaze of miso, mirin and soy sauce, or blue cheese on the offal.

Marrow in American restaurants
Bone marrow has made notable appearances on the tables at many American restaurants in recent years. By familiarizing yourself with other chefs’ successes, you may find inspiration for your own dishes.

“A popular bone marrow item is all about interesting pairings.”

In many cases, a popular bone marrow item is all about interesting pairings. Chicago’s Longman & Eagle serves roasted marrow on a small plate with sourdough and an array of accompaniments. Diners can try adding parsley, green apple kimchi, pickled garlic and shallots and a bacon-shallot jam. Toro sets the fat against the acidity of a radish citrus salad and complements it with a beef cheek marmalade.

Other chefs simply build upon the marrow’s flavors. Food writer Michael Ruhlman described the preparation at Lola Bistro in Cleveland, where the chefs saute marrow in canola oil, rather than roasting it. They then double down on the richness by adding butter late in the preparation. Chef de cuisine Derek Clayton commented on how the choice of bread to accompany to marrow brought some familiarity to this otherwise unusual approach.

“I think the grilled baguette makes the dish,” Clayton said.  “It evokes that roasted flavor that you normally expect when ordering marrow.”

However you choose to prepare and serve marrow, it will make a flavorful and protein-packed addition to the menu. Simple to prepare and delicious with a variety of spreads and sides, this offal provides countless opportunities for you to put your mark on a dish.

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