How to prepare and serve restaurant style roasted bone marrow.
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- Read on for helpful tips and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
As food enthusiasts and huge craft beer fans we are no strangers to the delights of roasted bone marrow enjoyed with a refreshing brew.
Chris has had them on several of his menus, we frequently prepare them at home (very company worthy appetizer by the way) and never fail to order them when we spot them on a menu when eating out.
There is nothing intimidating about preparing them and dishing them up restaurant style, plus they are easier to find than you might think.
The bone marrow in the center of long animal bones is a firm, sponge-like tissue with ivory/faint yellow color. It is made of mesenchymal stromal cells and has a lot of collagen. There is also red bone marrow contained in smaller animal bones near the neck, head and trunk which is made of myeloid tissue and is the source of red blood cells. The yellow marrow has a lot more fat cells and is the one we are interested in from a culinary perspective.
When cooked yellow marrow softens and acquires a jelly-like, buttery texture with a sweet, mild beefy and nutty flavor. Prolonged cooking results in complete liquification.
Beef marrow bones from the femur of cows are by far the most common choice for roasting simply due to their sheer size vis-a-vis other bones. Additionally, their straight shape makes them perfect for cutting lengthwise, known as canoe cut.
Smaller beef bones like the tibia are also sometimes sold for the bone marrow and usually cut into rounds, aka cross cut.
Ways to Cook Bone Marrow
Roasting as shown here is by far the most delectable way to enjoy beef marrow. Its second most popular culinary use is the preparation of soup bases and broths. If you enjoy Vietnamese beef phở, you are probably already aware that the scrumptious broth owes its rich flavor to beef bones, cooked slowly for hours. Ossobuco (cross-cut-beef shanks) also gets its richness of flavor from the marrow inside the humerus, tibia and fibula bones.
Workflow (for Oven Roasted)
Roasting beef bones is beyond easy, but for the sake of clarity we’ve put together the image grid above.
- Prep work. If the bones were frozen – thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. Before you roast them examine them for impurities on the surface. If they do not appear as clean and as nicely trimmed of tendons, fat and meat as the ones shown above, soak them in cold saline solution first.
- Season. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange the bones with the marrow facing up for canoe cut and the wider opening facing up for cross cut. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Roast. Place the seasoned bones in a 450 F oven and roast for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on their size, until the marrow begins to bubble up.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
- It is perfectly normal for a few specs of blood or dark spots to be visible on the surface of the raw bones.
- Cross cut ones will be done roasting in less time than canoe cut ones.
- The actual amount of marrow you will be able to derive from each varies. Sometimes an average sized cross cut bone is packed full of marrow and yields more than an average canoe cut femur. Always prepare an extra one or two just to be sure you have enough for everyone who will be enjoying them with you.
How to Serve Roasted Beef Marrow Bones
- By far a low key, rustic style presentation as we tend to put together (see above) is the most common way to serve this delicacy. Just place the roasted marrow bones onto a cutting board or a platter, then sprinkle with a good quality sea salt.
- Serve with fresh, crusty baguette slices or small pieces of toast and shaved onions or parsley salad (inspired by the famous British bone marrow on toast). Micro greens (such as broccoli or pea shoots etc.) taste good along with the marrow and liven up the presentation. You can also garnish with fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, oregano, chives.
Recommended Beer Pairings
The richness and savory fattiness of softened bone marrow are a perfect match for the lively, cleansing carbonation of beer. In addition, brews with pronounced malty sweetness (ex. Munich helles lager) or roasted malt bitterness (ex. Irish stouts) display a strong affinity for their umami flavor. It is no accident that marrow bones are prominently featured on the menus of iconic craft beer pubs and beer halls such as our beloved Euclid Hall in Denver, Colorado.
We especially like to pair bone marrow with dark German lagers such as bocks and dunkel (for both the excellent carbonation and sweet caramel notes) and dry Belgian saison ales. In winter, we suggest Belgian dark ales such as dubbels or oak foeder aged Flemish sour ales like Rodenbach Grand Cru.
How to Eat Them
- To enjoy the scrumptious marrow simply scoop it out using a small spoon and place it over fresh crusty bread or spread it on toast. Top with a bit of onion, micro greens/fresh herbs.
- Or you could use pita or tortilla chips to directly scoop the marrow out of the bone.
- Alternatively, use a small butter knife or spoon to spread roasted marrow over freshly made Mexican tortillas, roll them up and enjoy dipped into your favorite hot sauce.
- Bone marrow also makes a delectable compound butter. Serve it with beef steaks or burgers – it will add umami richness to the meat as it melts over the hot surface.
How to Make Bone Marrow Butter
- In advance bring a stick of butter to room temperature. Place it in a small bowl.
- Scoop out the roasted bone marrow from a couple of cross-cut bones or a large canoe cut bone and add it to the butter (you need about 2-3 tablespoons of marrow).
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and using a fork gently work in the marrow into the butter.
- Transfer the mixture to a half sheet of parchment paper, roll it to form a cylindrical/salami like shape, twist tighten the ends and refrigerate to firm it up.
From a health perspective bone marrow is prized for its numerous benefits, especially those connected to its high collagen content. It has been shown to support joint function, strengthen the intestinal wall, regulate hormones, improve skin health and reduce inflammation in the body.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- 4 canoe cut beef marrow bones, clean*
- pinch salt and pepper (to season before roasting)
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes (to season at time of serving)
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- Place the bones onto a parchment paper or foil lined baking sheet or roasting pan - canoe cut with the flat side facing up, cross cut with the narrower side facing down. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for about 15 minutes (and up to 25 minutes), depending on the bone size and how much marrow they contain. As a rule of thumb once the marrow begins to gently bubble on the surface they are done. Remove from the oven immediately.
- Serve with toast, baguette slices or pita/tortilla chips and thinly sliced onion. Sprinkle micro greens or fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme over the marrow.
* This translates to 8 halves. Alternatively, purchase cross cut marrow bones, budget about 5-6 pieces per person depending on their size. Also consider that the amount of bone marrow contained in a bone is not proportional to its size. Always roast a few extra bones to ensure everyone gets to enjoy the same amount of marrow.
'Clean' means that apart from the occasional spec of blood visible on the marrow the bones are nicely trimmed of tendons and fat and do not have excess impurities or blood. If the opposite is true, make a saline solution to soak the bones in an draw out the blood and any impurities. Use 1 tbsp salt to every 1 cup of cold water. Soak refrigerated for about 6 to 12 hours. Allow the bones to air dry before you roast them.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 654mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 23g
Where To Buy Beef Marrow Bones?
- Start by asking your local butcher. This is your best bet to get fresh, never frozen and perfectly trimmed and cleaned marrow bones. We typically place a call with our local meat guy and request the number of bones and type of cut we’d like. He works about a week in advance, which is typical for smaller town butchers.
- Sometimes Whole Foods has them – check their frozen meat section versus the meat cases. As of late the meat cases of grocers like Kroger have started including them in their assortment.
- Many ethnic stores carry marrow bones. We bought the cross-cut ones we used in this post from a local Mexican grocer – they were clean, vacuum sealed and frozen – a breeze to thaw and prepare. An Asian food store nearby also carries them.
How to Clean Marrow Bones
Do you need to soak marrow bones before cooking? Not always, but sometimes the step may be necessary. While a few visible specs of blood here and there are not a deal breaker it is beneficial to soak the bones in a saline solution to draw out excess blood and impurities.
- Place canoe cut bones flat side down in a deeper roasting dish or similar and cover with salted water – maintain a 1 cup water : 1 tbsp salt ratio, use as many cups of saline solution as needed to cover the bones you have. (For cross cut do the same, using a large bowl).
- Soak refrigerated for 12 hours.
- Allow them to air dry before roasting.