Dedicated food assholes*—as well as people who spend too much time on the Internet—might recognize this dish as the one that put Fergus Henderson, pioneer of “nose to tail” eating, on the international map. People may not be ready for lamb hearts or squirrel, but they were clearly ready for what could best be described as meat butter, one of the most dense sources of fat-soluble vitamins in all the animal kingdom. Anthony Bourdain** once described this as one of his “last meal” selections, and after trying it, it’s clear why.
*The new replacement for “foodie.” I think we can all agree on this.
**Food assholes = people who drop more than one name in a single paragraph.
You know how a really good roast smells, right before you’re about to take it out of the oven? That’s exactly how this tastes. All beef and fat and rendered juices—so, so wrong, but so, so right.
I found these particular marrow bones while poking around the supermarket meat department in search of post-Thanksgiving meat markdowns (spoiler alert: there were none). I swear I’d never seen them there before, so even though they break my $2.99-a-pound meat rule, I just had to buy them out of curiosity. I remembered reading about this dish in both The New York Times and Bon Appetit, and while I’d had marrow before at a restaurant, it was a long time ago, and I certainly had never attempted making it myself. I can say, though, if you’re not budget-minded, it’s well worth buying proper veal bones from your butcher. These bones were good, to be sure, but with such a simple dish, quality ingredients make a dramatic difference.
This would make a fine appetizer or first course for 4, but as a meal it was adequate for 2.
• 4 beef marrow bones (98 cents ea.): $3.87
• 4 thick slices country bread (homemade): 22 cents
• 1/2 cup chopped parsley (garden): $0
• 1 T capers, chopped: 40 cents
• Squeeze of lemon: 17 cents
• Dash of olive oil: 3 cents
• Table salt to taste: 1 cent
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste: 1 cent
• Coarse salt for serving: 1 cent
TOTAL: $4.72/2 = $2.36/serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and dry the bones. Some schools say it’s absolutely necessary to soak the bones overnight, but Fergus disagrees, so I’m sure you can guess what tack I took. If you choose to soak the bones, let me know how it turns out.
Put the bones in a dish wish tall sides (some of the fat will render) and roast for 15-20 minutes, right up until the fat starts to render out of the bottom.
Meanwhile, chop the parsley and capers, dress with the lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. Toast the bread, if you haven’t already done so.
When the bones are done, remove them to a platter and serve with the salad, salt and bread; to eat, spread a generous amount of marrow on the bread, sprinkle with coarse salt, and top with the parsley salad.