About Bone Marrow

 

 

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Marrow is the soft, creamy, high caloric substance found in the center of the bones. According to Waverly Root, in his reference work Food, bone marrow is “the rather mucilaginous matter which fills bones and is considered a particular delicacy by cannibals.” Root was obviously not a fan, but cooked bone marrow has a mild taste and the consistency of soft butter; gourmands compare it to foie gras.

The most popular marrow is veal or beef, from the animals’ leg bones. Don’t neglect what you find in lamb and pork shanks, hams, and game bones. Even if you don’t eat the marrow straight from the bone, remember to add those bones to your stock pot to enrich the final broth.

Since man began hunting, marrow has been an important food source. It provides fat, iron, phosphorous, and vitamin A, with trace amounts of thiamin and niacin. For people living at subsistence levels or in marginal areas, it could mean the difference between life and death. All mammals have marrow in their bones, as do birds–though to a lesser extent, because many bird bones are hollow, which helps them fly.

During the Middle Ages marrow, like suet (the fat from around the kidneys), was used in place of butter as an ingredient in pastries, sweet puddings, and desserts. In Victorian times, marrow was a popular dish at English high teas and in men’s clubs, and it was often served, instead of pudding, at the end of each meal. Queen Victoria was a devotee, who it was said, ate marrow and toast every day. That may not have improved her figure, but it didn’t shorten her life.

Although rich, beef marrow is easily digested. Because it is one of the richest foods there is, in the past it was the nutritional choice of anyone with poor appetite or who needed building up. It was regarded as a health food, perfect for invalids and children. In one English recipe, the marrow is colored yellow with saffron and then whipped until it resembles butter. It was recommended for sickly children.

Fortunately, we don’t need the excuse of feeling undernourished to eat marrow; we can eat it because we like it. However, because many of us pay attention to the amount of saturated fat in our diets, marrow is usually a special treat.

Knowing where your meat comes from, and how it has been raised, is especially important when it concerns bone marrow. Spinal marrow is found in the bones of chips and ribs, the neck, and tail. The safest bone marrow is that from the leg bones, because it has no contact with brain tissue.

 

This information is excerpted from Bones by Jennifer McLagan and can be purchased here.

Roasted Marrow Bones

 

 

This is the dish that started me on my bones journey. Scooping out the soft, warm marrow and spreading it on crisp toast is a sensual delight. A touch of salt, and all is right with the world. I suggest two marrow bones per person, since it is a very rich dish–but I could easily eat all eight. Marrow bones are cut from the shank bones of beef and veal; ask your butcher for bones cut from the center of the shank so the portion of marrow to bone will be higher and the marrow easier to extract.

Serve the bones French style, with only fleur de sel, or English style with Parsley Salad. Use good rustic bread for the toast. Plan ahead, as the bones must be soaked for 12-24 hours to remove any traces of blood.

 

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Roasted Marrow Bones


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  • Author: Jill Baker
  • Yield: Serves 4 As An Appetizer 1x

Ingredients

Scale

8 Veal or Beef Marrow Bones, about 3 inches long

Kosher Salt

Vegetable Oil

Parsley Salad (found here)

8 Slices Rustic Bread

Fleur de Sel


Instructions

  1. Place the bones in a bowl of ice water to cover, add 2 Tbsp. salt, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, changing the water 4-6 times and adding 2 more Tbsp. salt to the water each time.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450º F. Drain the bones and pat dry. Stand them up in a lightly oiled roasting pan, and roast for 15-25 minutes, or until the marrow has puffed slightly and is warm in the venter. To test, insert a metal skewer into the venter of marrow, then touch it to your wrist to see if it is warm. There should be no resistance when the skewer is inserted, and a little of the marrow should have melted and started to leak from the bones.
  3. While the bones are roasting, prepare the parsley salad, if serving it, and toast the bread.
  4. Divide the bones among four plates and serve hot, with the optional salad, toast, and fleur de sel. Each diner scoops out the marrow and spreads it on the toast, sprinkling it with salt.

Notes

Poached Marrow Bones
ºYou can poach marrow bones in simmering salted water instead of roasting them, but they must still be soaked in advance. Poach them for 15 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the bones; drain well before serving.

The information and recipe, contained within, is excerpted from Bones by Jennifer McLagan and can be purchased here.

 

How To Make Ground Beef & Organ Meat Mixture

 

 

If you prefer to make this at home, you can purchase fresh or frozen organ meat, thaw the meat in the fridge, if frozen, and combine a ratio of 4:1 ground beef to organ meat (for example, 1 pound of ground beef to 1/4 pound of heart) in a food processor until mixed.

You will want to add the organ meat, roughly chopped to the processor first and pulse a few times until it is broken down into pieces similar in size to the ground beef. (In the case of liver, be careful not to overprocess it; because of its creamier texture, it will become pastelike of overmixed. Don’t worry, once it’s pulsed into smaller chunks, it will mix in fine with the rest of the meat!) Next, add the ground beef and pulse just enough to mix the beef and organ meat together; overprocessing the ground meat can make it tough.

Pro Tip: If you’re really worried about an “organ meat” taste, I suggest using heart, which is a muscle meat and not strong tasting, or chicken liver, which is the mildest-tasting animal liver. You can also ask butcher to premix organ meat into your ground beef for you.

 

Recipe is an excerpt from It Takes Guts by Ashleigh Vanhoute and can be purchased here.

Grilled Sweetbreads

 

 

Sweetbreads are so delicious, even people who wouldn’t normally eat ” adventurous” cuts love them, which is why they end up on so many restaurant menus.
Sweetbreads are most often prepared breaded and fried, but in this simple grilled preparation they develop a nice crust on the outside while staying rich and creamy on the inside. Since they’re delicate, you have to be a little more careful about how you prepare them than other, heartier cuts (like heart), but the work is absolutely worth it.
They truly don’t need to be dressed up with fancy sides, although a flavorful dipping sauce is always welcome; I particularly enjoy something tart or acidic to balance with mild creaminess of the meat, such as the Chimichurri Dipping Sauce.

 

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Grilled Sweetbreads


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  • Author: Jill Baker
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

1 lb. Lamb or Veal Sweetbreads

2 c. Filtered Water, plus more for soaking

1 tsp. plus 1 pinch Fine Ground Salt, divided

4 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided

1 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos or Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper

4 (9-inch) Wood Skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour


Instructions

  1. Gently rinse the sweetbreads and soak them in a bowl of cold filtered water with a pinch of salt for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 12 hours (overnight). Drain the sweetbreads.
  2. In a pot large enough to fit the sweetbreads in a single layer, bring 2 cups of filtered water to a boil. Turn the heat down to maintain a simmer, add the sweetbreads, and simmer for 30 minutes, until firm but not rubbery. Remove the sweetbreads from the water and put them in a large bowl of ice water, which will allow them to cool and frim up for the grill.
  3. Pat the sweetbreads dry with a paper towel and, with your fingers, remove any visible membranes or fat. Separate into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces using your fingers, (Even when cooked, they’re delicate and will break apart easily, so make sure you don’t mush them up too much!)
  4. Put the sweetbreads in a large bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, the coconut aminos, the remaining teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Then thread the sweetbread pieces carefully onto the skewers, about 5 pieces per skewer.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil in a large grill pan over medium heat.
  6. Grill the sweetbreads on the grill pan, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

The sweetbreads will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, but I recommend you eat them right away. You can reheat them on the stovetop, in a pan over medium heat with a tablespoon of ghee for about 5 minutes.

Recipe is an excerpt from It Takes Guts by Ashleigh Vanhoute and can be purchased here.

Grilled Chicken Heart Skewers

 

 

This recipe is so simple, so delicious, and so crowd-pleasing. It’s also an friendly entry into the world of heart, since chicken hearts are mild and meaty and easy to work with. They are an excellent addition to a summer BBQ, a great protein-filled appetizer, or a quick Paleo-friendly entrée next to a mixed salad or cauliflower rice.

 

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Grilled Chicken Heart Skewers


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  • Author: Jill Baker
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

1 lb. Chicken Hearts, cleaned *see here*

1 Red Onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 Bell Pepper, any color or combination, chopped into 1-inch pieces

6 (10-inch) Wood Skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour

Lime Wedges, for serving

For the Marinade
1/3 c. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 tsp. Fine Sea Salt

1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin

1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper


Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients for the marinade in a medium mixing bowl and mix well. Pat the hearts dry and add them to the marinade, tossing them to coat. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to marinate overnight.
  2. Preheat a barbecue grill to high heat, or preheat a grill pan on the stovetop over high heat.
  3. Skewer the hearts with a slice of onion or bell pepper between them, for a total of 4 or 5 hearts per skewer. Grill until slightly charred on the surface and medium-rare inside, about 4 minutes per side, turning the skewers over midway through cooking.
  4. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lime.

Notes

Leftover skewers will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Recipe is an excerpt from It Takes Guts by Ashleigh Vanhoute and can be purchased here.

How to Clean Heart

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For All Hearts, except chicken hearts: Trim the hard, white exterior fat and any visible membranes with a sharp paring knife, and cut out visible arteries, veins, or other non-muscle meat from the top of the heart, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. You should end up with a piece of relatively smooth, blood-red muscle meat. (Any further cutting or prep would be individual to the recipe.)

Note that most larger animal hearts will be sourced from a local farm and butcher, and you’ll notice they have already been cut or sliced open for quality control (to ensure the organ is healthy and safe and didn’t contain any bugs or parasites.)

For Chicken Hearts: Chicken hearts can be purchased at many grocery stores. They tend to be already cleaned and removed of any excess material and are generally ready to cook after being rinsed thoroughly in cold water. (Pro Tip: Squeeze the hearts while rinsing to ensure you get rid of trace amounts of blood inside them.)

 

This information is an excerpt from It Takes Guts by Ashleigh Vanhoute and can be purchased here.