A luxurious spread for crackers and crostini
If you consider the current bone broth craze you might conclude that deriving food from animal bones was a new phenomenon. It’s not. Bones, and more specifically bone marrow, have been consumed in Europe and Asia long before their present popularity in mainstream North America. Even within our continent however, Native Americans and the Indigenous people of Canada have included bone marrow in their diets for ages. And long before this there is evidence that our paleolithic predecessors chomped on animal bones; it’s no surprise that proponents of the bone broth movement are following the Paleo diet.
We can assure you that our parents were not ahead of any health food trend when they served us roasted bone marrow as kids. They probably did have health in mind however, and were aware of the health benefits often associated with eating bone marrow.
In case you don’t know much about bone marrow, here’s a primer. Consider this, Bone Marrow 101.
- Bone marrow is found in the center of bones; the larger the bone, the more marrow you can expect. The leg bone, or femur, of large animals is particularly rich in bone marrow.
- Bone marrow contains stem cells which produce white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets, which in turn help fight infections, help carry oxygen throughout the body and help with blood clotting.
- Bone marrow is composed almost entirely (97%) of fat.
- Along with the healthy fats found in bone marrow, it contains amino acids, vitamins E, B1 and A, and minerals. It has been said that bone marrow may improve immunity and aid in digestion.
- Bone marrow also contains a group of compounds called alkyglycerols, immune boosting lipids which are also found in breast milk.
Facts, fads and potential health benefits aside, roasted bone marrow is absolutely delicious. It’s not surprising then that it is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Slightly buttery in taste and simply luxurious in texture, roasted bone marrow is definitely worth a try.
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Aside from being delicious, bone marrow tends to be economical particularly when compared, cost per pound, to the cost of meat. Beef bone marrow will usually give you the best value for your money.
If you don’t find marrow bones readily available at your supermarket, simply ask your butcher if he has any large marrow bones. If they are cut as ours are in the pictures in this post, great. Otherwise, ask your butcher to split the bones lengthwise. The last thing you want is to struggle to get the marrow out of the bones. Of course, you can always splurge and buy yourself a marrow spoon!
If you do find a good supply of marrow bones, stock up. Uncooked they freeze very well. Also, it’s sometimes hard to know how much marrow you will actually get out of any given bone, so it’s good to have extras.
Your marrow bones should be free of meat and the marrow should be a pale pink colour. If you see blood spots on the surface, that is fine.
Our favourite way to enjoy bone marrow is roasted as explained in this recipe. Spread on crackers or thin slices of crostini they are just perfect. At the same time, you can roast your bone marrow and then add it to soups and stews for extra flavour and texture.
The recipe which follows does not indicate amounts on purpose. The recipe, or technique, is basic and you can roast as many bones as you like.
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Roasted bone marrow
- Marrow bones
- salt, to taste
- dry oregano to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place your marrow bones in a roasting pan. If they are cut crosswise, place them standing up. If they are cut lengthwise then place them in the roasting pan so that the marrow side is up.
- Season with salt, pepper and oregano to taste.
- Place in the middle rack of your oven for 15 - 20 minutes. The marrow will have puffed up a bit and there should be no resistance when you insert a skewer or toothpick into the middle of it.
- Once done, remove from the oven and serve immediately with crackers or crostini.