I love the deeply meaty flavour of bone marrow. It tastes to me like that connection of grass, butter, and animal smells that fill the kitchen when a really nice steak hits a cast iron pan. It’s a bit of a production to clean, roast, and serve bone marrow, though. A special spoon is sometimes used–no one buys these except restaurants and gift givers–and the most popular presentation usually has bone marrow stand on its own with just bread, salt, and parsley as complements.
Sometimes this ritual is what’s called for but bone marrow has such a luxuriously beefy flavour that it seems a shame to not use it more often. Of course there is always Bordelaise but the thought of making a demi-glace before even beginning the red wine reduction or poaching the bone marrow is enough to discourage all but the most well-equipped restaurant chefs. I can’t think of a preparation better suited to spread great flavour over several weeks than compound butter.
This recipe combines a healthy dose of the traditional parsley with bone marrow and adds the mild allium bite of shallots. I like this combination but I don’t see any reason why adding (or substituting) thyme, sage, or rosemary wouldn’t also work.
The obvious use for bone marrow butter is to let a generous coin of it melt over a hot steak. I really enjoyed it with toasted bread crumbs, grated parmesan, pickled milkweed pods (from Forbes and they’re a sort Ontario answer to the caper) and sauteed bacon on pasta. Spread on toast it would be an excellent start (middle or end) to the eating day.
Update: This post was originally published on March 16, 2011. I’ve updated, edited and added new photos to it since then.
Bone Marrow Butter
A fairly simple, long-storing recipe for a compound butter that adds the richness and savour of bone marrow to any dish.
Prep time: 15 minutes Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: a bit more than one cup, close to 300 ml
- 165 g beef or veal bone marrow, cooked and removed from bones (yield from six 3-inch pieces
- half a bunch flat-leaf parsley
- half a shallot, quartered
- 100 g butter
- three-finger pinch kosher salt
- Place the marrow bone in a pan and cover it with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the temperature to medium-low and simmer for ten minutes. Allow to cool briefly before using a paring knife and the handle of a wooden spoon to pop the marrow out of the bone. Alternately, just make a double batch of my roast bone marrow recipe and use the leftovers for this one. Everything but the bones and the gristliest of meat stuck to them go into the food processor. Especially whatever is brown, crispy, and fatty. Obviously, the parsley salad for that recipe could stand in for the parsley and shallot here.
- You want the butter to be softer than it would be in the refrigerator but balance that against how long you’re willing to wait for the marrow to cool to a point where it won’t melt the butter. A good compromise would probably be to take the butter out of the fridge when the bone come out of the pan and wait about forty-five minutes. Ultimately, it’s a lot easier to work with bone marrow that has cooled completely.
- Pulse the butter in the food processor for a couple seconds. Put the parsley (torn from the thickest stems) and roughly chopped shallot in the bowl. Buzz it for five seconds until roughly minced. Add the bone marrow.
- When all the butter has been combined and smoothly integrated (you may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl) transfer the marrow butter to wax paper. Wrap tightly in a log shape and store in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for longer.