When asked what his choice for his last meal would be, this was Anthony Bourdain’s pick. Well, Bourdain would have Fergus Henderson of St. John restaurant roasting his marrow bones, but marrow is surprisingly easy to prepare, though a little daunting at first if you’ve never encountered this delicacy.
Prepared with brown sugar and ancho, spread over toasted slices of baguette, marrow is a delightful marriage of sweetness, richness, spice, and crunch. The ancho and sugar will alter the color of the bones and the upper marrow a bit, but in a good way.
In my opinion, the most important step is soaking the bones for 24 hours. If you are at all like me, visuals are important; skip the soak, and you’ll likely be sorry – the finished product will be grey and visually unappetizing. (That’s putting it kindly.)
On the other hand, after the soak, the bones and marrow will be whitish-pink before roasting; after the roast, the bones and marrow will darken a bit, but the marrow will have more of a pinkish cast in areas. I still tend to concentrate more on the flavors I’m experiencing than the appearance, but I have to say that though there is a place in my culinary world for marrow, it still would not be my last meal. (Steak au poivre and homemade fettucine alfredo would battle it out for my last meal…then again, if it’s a last meal, I’d probably feel entitled to just have both. Plus a dessert or 12.)
Roasted Marrow Bones
4 marrow bones, 2-3 inches high
ancho chili powder
extra virgin olive oil
The day before
Place the bones in a medium bowl and cover with a solution of water and about two tablespoons of salt. Change the water about five more times, as the water color becomes pink.
The day of
Preheat oven to 450*F. Cover an ovenproof skillet or baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Drain the water from the bones and place the bones on a plate. Sprinkle each bone with ancho and then brown sugar. Roast on middle rack for 10-12 minutes and remove from oven.
While the bones are roasting, slice the baguette into 1/2 inch slices. Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake until golden.
Use a butter knife to scoop the marrow out of the bones and spread on toast. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy.