Not usually into "weird" foods, I do realise marrow bones are not necessarily a staple item in modern-day kitchens. Although I'd easily run a mile to avoid anything with offal, I have always liked marrow bone on the rare occasions that presented themselves. I reality, I only know them as part of the traditional Viennese Tafelspitz where it is cooked for various hours together with the meat and the soup served as its starter, and the marrow is spread thinly on toasted rye-bread as a special treat in between courses. Or cut lengthways, simply put under the grill for a few minutes until it bubbles, and enjoyed with sourdough bread and a tangy herb sauce.
When I got Peter Gordon's "Fusion" to review a couple of years ago, I was immediately intrigued by his recipe. It is rich, but full of flavours, and definitely out of the ordinary. Depending on which bone or which part of the bone you happen to be buying, you might have more filling than you can fit in the bone... serve the surplus alongside in a little bowl, you will find there won't be any left-overs!
Keep the bones you have so pain-stakingly cleaned for the next time - you can even put them in the dishwasher, leave them to dry thoroughly and store in a dry place - just like scallop shells, you can use them for years to come!
(serves 4 as a starter/amuse-bouche)
600 g marrow bones**
100 g bone marrow (from afore-mentioned bones)
40 g butter
120 g sourdough breadcrumbs
60 g pine nuts
100 g parmesan (finely grated)
250 ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp finely chopped Italian/flat-leaf parsley
zest of half a lemon (grated)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
Soak the marrow bones for a day in a container with cold water, changing the water three times in between.
Remove the marrow from the bones and clean the bones thoroughly, taking off any remaining meat, tendons, blood vessels etc. Leave to dry.
Melt the butter in a shallow pan and leave to brown (= beurre noisette). This gives it a lovely, rich and nutty aroma.
Meanwhile, cut the marrow into fine dice and add to the pan, leaving it to melt as much as possible - some chunks will remain.
Now add the breadcrumbs and the pine nuts and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the vegetable stock - attention, there will be quite a bit of foam developing! Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, then take off the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Stir in the parmesan, garlic, parsley and lemon zest, season to taste.
When ready to serve, spoon the mixture into the bones with a nice hep on top, garnish with a parsley leaf and serve with sourdough bread and a nice glass of dry sherry!
* recipe adapted from Peter Gordon's "Fusion"
** It is easiest to get your butcher to cut the bones into the size you want - think shot-glass size as a nice tapas portion.