Instructions for Roasting Bone Marrow

Learn the secrets to making roasted bone marrow like it's served at your favorite restaurant.  

Roasted beef marrow bones - canoe cut and cross-cut served with shaved onions, micro greens and baguette.

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Check out the rest of this 2-minute read for some pointers and visual aids.

Detailed Information Regarding This Bone Marrow Dish

As avid eaters and beer drinkers, we can attest to the deliciousness of roasted bone marrow washed down with a cold one.

Chris has included them in a number of his menu offerings, we make them frequently at home (they're a great starter for guests) and we always get them when we see them on a restaurant's menu.

Getting them, cooking them, and serving them in a restaurant style is not difficult, and they are more accessible than you might think.   

Canoe cut and cross cut raw beef marrow bones.

Bone marrow is a firm, sponge-like tissue that is ivory or pale yellow in color and is found at the center of the bones of long animals. It is rich in collagen and constructed from mesenchymal stromal cells. Red bone marrow, which is made of myeloid tissue and is the source of red blood cells, is found in the smaller bones of animals near the neck, head, and trunk. Culinary-wise, we're more interested in the yellow marrow because of the larger number of fat cells it contains.

When prepared properly, yellow marrow takes on a buttery, jellylike texture and a mildly sweet, beefy, nutty flavor. Total liquefaction occurs during the final stages of cooking.    

Due to their larger size compared to other bones, femur bones from cows are the most popular choice for roasting beef marrow. Their longitudinally elongated form also lends itself well to the canoe cut.  

Tibia and other smaller beef bones are sometimes sold whole or in rounds (cross cuts) for their bone marrow.  

Methods of Preparation for Bone Marrow

The beef marrow presented here was roasted, which is the tastiest preparation method. Making soups and broths is its second most common culinary application. If you're a fan of Vietnamese beef ph, you know that the delicious broth gets its robust flavor from beef bones that have been cooked slowly for hours. Aside from the marrow found in the femur, tibia, and humerus, these bones also contribute to the intense flavor of ossobuco (cross-cut beef shanks).

Procedure (for Roasting in an Oven)

Step by step how to roast bone marrow bones

Even though roasting beef bones is ridiculously simple, we put together the above image grid for illustration purposes. The bones and some salt and pepper are all that's required.

  • Prep work Thaw the bones in the fridge overnight if frozen. Check for surface imperfections before you roast them. Soak them in cold saline solution first if they don't look as clean and nicely trimmed of tendons, fat, and meat as the ones in the image above.
  • Season Spread the bones out on a baking sheet or roasting pan lined with parchment paper, marrow side up for canoe cut and wider opening side up for cross cut. Mix in a little salt and pepper before serving. Bones that need to be flattened can be supported by foil.
  • Roast Roast the seasoned bones for 15-25 minutes (depending on their size) in a 450 F oven until the marrow begins to bubble.  

Things to think about

  • It is not unusual for raw bones to have a few tiny spots of blood or dark spots on their surface.
  • It won't take as long to roast cross-cut potatoes as canoe-cut ones.
  • The quantity of usable marrow varies considerably between different types of bones. Sometimes a canoe cut femur will yield less marrow than a cross cut of the same size. To guarantee that you have enough for everyone who will be sharing in their pleasure, it is wise to make a couple of extra.

Techniques for Serving Oven-Roasted Bones

Restaurant style roasted bone marrow.

  • The most common way to serve this delicacy is in a low-key, rustic presentation like the one we usually go for (depicted above). Simply spread some high-quality sea salt over a cutting board or platter and add the roasted marrow bones.  
  • To replicate the dish that made bone marrow on toast so famous in Britain, serve with fresh, crusty baguette slices or small pieces of toast, shaved onions or shallots, and fresh parsley salad. Small, young plants used for food (like broccoli sprouts, pea shoots, etc.) ) complement the marrow's flavor and add some zest to the dish's presentation Parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, and even a sprinkling of salty capers are all great options for garnishing.  

Beer Complements We Recommend

Bone marrow's richness and savory fattiness pair wonderfully with beer's lively, cleansing carbonation. Moreover, malty, sweet beers (like Munich Helles Lager), or the bitterness of roasted malt (e.g., in Irish stouts) have a strong preference for their umami flavor. It's not a coincidence that marrow bones are often featured as an appetizer at legendary beer halls and pubs like Denver's beloved Euclid Hall.  

We recommend a dry Belgian saison ale or a dark German lager like a bock or dunkel to complement the rich, meaty flavor of the bone marrow as well as the beer's excellent carbonation and sweet caramel overtones. During the colder months, try a Flemish sour ale like Rodenbach Grand Cru or a Belgian dark ale like a dubbel.  

Techniques for Consuming Them

Roasted bone marrow is easily scooped with a small spoon. It's spreadable texture is perfect for toast or freshly baked bread.

  • Use a small spoon to remove the marrow and serve it over warm crusty bread or spread it on toast. Finish with some chopped onion and fresh herbs.   
  • If you prefer, you can use pita bread or tortilla chips to scoop the marrow straight from the bone.

Bone marrow on toast garnished with shaved onion and micro greens

  • Another option is to spread roasted marrow over warm, homemade Mexican tortillas with a butter knife or spoon, roll them up, and then dip them in your preferred hot sauce.  
  • A compound butter made from bone marrow is a delicious treat. Served melted over a hot surface, it will infuse the meat with umami richness, making it perfect for steaks and burgers.

Recipe for Bone Marrow Spread

  • Soften butter at room temperature in advance. Throw it in a bowl.  
  • Roast some bones, and then use a spoon to remove the marrow from a few of the cross-cut bones or a large canoe-cut bone, and mix it with the butter (you'll need about 2 to 3 tablespoons of marrow).
  • Mix the marrow into the butter with a fork and season to taste with salt and pepper.  
  • Place the mixture on a half sheet of parchment paper and shape it into a cylinder or salami by rolling and twisting the ends.  

Therapeutic Effects

Bone marrow is highly sought after due to its high collagen content and numerous health benefits. Research shows that it helps keep joints working, fortifies the lining of the intestines, balances hormones, promotes glowing skin, and lessens overall inflammation.  

Extra Recipes You Could Try

Specifically, a Borracha Salsa.
Pub Cheese
Sausages braised in beer
Kofta on the Grill
Steak of lamb that has been grilled

  • 4 clean, canoe-cut marrow bones from beef
  • season with a little salt and pepper before roasting.
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt (to be added just before serving).
  1. Turn oven temperature up to 450 degrees F.
  2. Canoe cut with the flat side up, cross cut with the narrower side down, place the bones on a baking sheet or roasting pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, but don't overdo it.
  3. Depending on the size of the bone and the amount of marrow it contains, roast it for 15-25 minutes. Rule of thumb: once the marrow begins to gently bubble on the surface, they are ready. Take out of the oven right now!
  4. Serve with sliced onion and toast, baguette, pita, or tortilla chips. Top the marrow with microgreens or fresh herbs like parsley or thyme.

There are thus 8 complete halves. Marrow bones, which should be cross-cut before purchase, can be used as a substitute; plan on spending $5 to per person, depending on their size. Think about the fact that the amount of bone marrow in a bone does not directly correlate to the size of the bone. Making sure everyone gets the same amount of marrow requires always roasting a few extra bones.

Bones are considered "clean" when they have been properly prepared by removing excess tendons, fat, and blood, with only a trace amount of blood visible in the marrow. If this is not the case, then the bones should be soaked in a saline solution to remove any remaining blood and other contaminants. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt into 1 cup of ice water. Soak in the fridge for 6-12 hours. Air dry the bones before roasting.

Yield: 4 Size of a Single Serving 1
Served in What Percentage: Calories: 274 Total Fat: 20g Cholesterol-Inducing Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 9g Cholesterol: 77mg Sodium: 654mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 23g

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Marrow Bones: Where to Find Them

  • Inquire with your neighborhood butcher first. Your best bet for marrow bones that have been thoroughly inspected, trimmed, and cleaned before being sold to you. Usually, we call up our neighborhood butcher and specify how many bones and what kind of cut we'd like. Like most butchers in smaller towns, he usually has a week's worth of work scheduled out.  
  • You can sometimes find them in the frozen meat section rather than the meat cases at Whole Foods. Recently, stores like Kroger have started stocking them in their meat sections.  
  • Marrow bones can be found in many specialty food stores. The ones we used in this post came from a Mexican market and were precut into crosses. They were fresh, vacuum-sealed, and frozen, making them a breeze to thaw and cook. In addition, they can be found at an Asian grocery store not far away.

Methods for Scrubbing Marrow Bones

Should marrow bones be soaked before being cooked? The action is not always required, but there are times when it is. Blood spots here and there are not necessarily cause for alarm, but it is best to soak the bones in a saline solution to remove any excess blood and other contaminants.

  • Canoe-cut bones should be placed flat-side down in a deep roasting dish or something similar and covered with salted water, using as many cups of saline solution as necessary to cover the bones. The water to salt ratio should be 1 cup water to 1 tbsp salt. (Instead of a knife, use a large bowl for a crosscut.)
  • Leave to soak in the fridge for a full day
  • Let them dry out in the air before roasting.
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