Cook This: Fergus Henderson’s Roasted Bone Marrow Exemplifies Minimal Effort, Maximum ResultsJuly 19, 2017
Why limit yourself to pork chops and tenderloins when you can have kidneys, brains, tongues, or even feet? The idea of cooking with (and eating) all parts of the animal, known as the “nose-to-tail” movement, has become especially popular in the recent years. And for this you can thank Fergus Henderson, chef of the St. John group of restaurants and author of the book that popularized the term, The Whole Beast.
The philosophy’s rise in popularity (in the mainstream Western cooking world) is fairly recent, but many cultures—our own, included—have been cooking nose-to-tail all throughout history and to this day. More than a trend, using the so-called “unwanted parts” helps alleviate food waste, earning you plus points for sustainability. And, when prepared right, they taste good—in each part you’ll find a unique flavor and texture profile which, with the right method of cooking and the right pairings, can make for a dish that’s absolutely delicious.
Understandably, working with these relatively unusual parts can be intimidating to the uninitiated. If you’re looking to just dip your hands into nose-to-tail cooking without completely diving in, you can start with bone marrow—the spongy tissue in the center of some bones which turns wonderfully rich and gelatinous when met with heat. Here, we try one of Henderson’s signature dishes, which features pieces of veal marrow bones (we substituted that of beef) roasted and served with a parsley salad and toast.
Roasted marrow might carry a fancy-schmancy reputation—it’s the kind of dish you’d likely find on the appetizer section of some bougie bistro, to be enjoyed with a flute of champagne and your pinkies pointed up. In truth, it could not be simpler to make, entailing little more than placing the bones on the baking sheet and roasting it in the oven just enough to soften the marrow (be careful not to roast it too long lest the marrow melts away completely) and give the edges an ever so slight char. The side salad highlights parsley, an oft-overlooked ingredient (it’s more than just a garnish!), tossed in an equally simple mix of lemon juice, olive oil, and capers. Toast a few slices of crusty bread and grab your stash of sea salt, and you’re good to go.
Though easy to make, what emerges is a glorious dish that tastes far more complex than what its ease of preparation would indicate. The marrow softens to a supple consistency that just borders on being unctuous, and its naturally fatty, umami character shines as you spread on the toast like you would butter. By itself, it’s rich—very rich. But this is where the parsley salad comes in, adding a piquant burst of freshness that cuts through the fatty marrow. A final sprinkling of sea salt accent the marrow’s savoriness just enough to tickle the tongue, making for a wonderful combination that’s more than just the sum of its parts.
Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad
Adapted from The Whole Beast by Fergus Henderson
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients: Roast Bone Marrow
- 12 pcs. bone marrow, 7-8 cm each
Ingredients: Parsley salad
- a bunch of flat parsley, picked from its stems
- 2 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
- a handful of capers, extra-fine if possible
- 1 lemon, juiced
- extra-virgin olive oil
- pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- toast, for serving
PROCEDURE: rOAST bONE mARROW
- Preheat oven to about 400-450 F.
- Place bone marrow in an ovenproof frying pan and place in oven. Roast for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bone, until marrow becomes loose and giving, but not melted away.
- Meanwhile, prepare the parsley salad.
Procedure: Parsley Salad
- Lightly chop your parsley and place it in a bowl.
- Mix in shallots and capers.
- At the last moment, add in the lemon juice, olive oil, and seasoning.
- Scrape marrow from the bone and spread on toast.
- Top with parsley salad, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and eat.