But bone marrow is actually super cheap, accessible and easy to make at home. Plus, when prepared correctly, it can be a tasty way to get a few extra nutrients into your diet.
While it’s not a recipe you want to eat every day, bone marrow is full of flavour and a great accompaniment to a nice steak. If you love flavour and are intrigued about the idea of eating this dish, either at a restaurant or cooking it yourself, read on as we demystify bone marrow.
What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue found inside a bone. It is usually served as a whole bone split in half, and the marrow from the inside is eaten.
While bone marrow has become a popular appetiser in many restaurants over the past few years, it actually dates back to prehistoric times when early humans used to crack open the bones of prey, such as lions, and eat the marrow inside.
Bone marrow is loaded with good saturated fats, minerals and proteins like collagen. It can be eaten straight out of the bone, spread on bread or even used on tacos. The marrow bones can also be simmered with vegetables to make a nutritious bone broth.
How to prepare bone marrow for cooking
While marrow is present in all bones, not all bones are suitable for making this dish. Ideally you want to find a specific large marrow bone (e.g. not soup bones). Visit your local butcher and request a beautiful piece of bone marrow, and ask them to cut it for you lengthwise.
Before you start cooking, some preparation is required.
1. Soak the bones one day in advance
Put the bone marrow in salted water and keep it in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to remove any blood spots and bacteria. This process “bleaches” out as much of that blood as possible, and also firms up the marrow.
The next day, you’ll notice how clean it is. The longer you leave it, the more blood will be extracted from the bones.
2. Clean the bones
If presentation is important to you, remove any excess meat on the bones before cooking.
To do this, grab your not-so-favourite knife (i.e. one that you’re not worried about damaging) and, using the back of the knife, scrape off any meat left on the bones. It should come off quite easily if you’ve left the bones soaking for long enough. If there are any chunks of meat that you can’t scrape off, just cut it off with a knife.
Cooking bone marrow
Once the bones are cleaned up, transfer them to a baking tray. You can keep them natural with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, or add a herbed mix of parsley and garlic.
Put the tray in a preheated oven at 350ºF/180ºC for about 15-20 minutes. The marrow will be done when it is a nice golden-brown colour and springy to touch. You’re looking for the marrow to slightly pull away from the bone – if it’s too hard, they haven’t been cooked for long enough.
While the marrow cooks, grab some fresh bread and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Toast the bread in a hot pan to get it nice and crispy.
Once the marrow is ready, take it out of the oven and let it cool down.
Eating bone marrow
This is the easy part – just grab a spoon and dig in. Scrape out the beautiful marrow with a spoon and spread it onto the toast. Think of it like a trough of garlic butter. Delicious!
Serve with a hearty steak on the side and a nice refreshing salad to cleanse the palette.
There are so many flavour profiles you can experiment with when it comes to cooking bone marrow, so don’t be intimidated. Once you’ve eaten the marrow, the bones can go into a crockpot to make a bone broth, which is a great way to get more out of your meals.
Serves: 2 people
- 2 x large marrow bones, split lengthise
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: Chopped parsley, garlic
- Some heavy crust bread
- Olive oil
The day before: Soak the bones in salted water and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Clean the bones with a knife and remove any excess meat.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Season the marrow with salt and pepper.
If you want a herb mix, combine the chopped parsley and garlic in a bowl. Extract the marrow with a spoon and add to the garlic and parsley mix. Season with salt and pepper then put the mix back into the bone.
Bake the marrow in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and springy to touch.
While the marrow cooks, slice some crusty bread and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Toast it in a hot pan to get it nice and crispy.
Once the marrow is cooled, scoop it out with a spoon and spread it on toast. Enjoy!