For all you food aficionados out there, if you haven’t already, you must explore the rich flavor and distinctive texture of bone marrow.
What is perhaps the first source of fatty animal product that our ancestors were able to obtain, bone marrow has now made its way to fine dining with many high-end restaurants serving delicious roasted bone marrow on their menus.
In addition to becoming a delicacy in gourmet restaurants, bone marrow has also started gaining popularity among health and fitness enthusiasts due to its stellar nutrient profile.
However, despite its trendiness in American and European cuisine, are you hesitant in trying it out because you don’t know what to expect from it taste-wise?
Well, don’t worry because we’re here to share our knowledge about the much-hyped dish!
So, what does bone marrow taste like? Many people say it has an umami flavor and tastes extremely buttery and creamy because of its high fat content. When cooked properly, it has a somewhat sweet and rich, savory flavor.
If you were worried that it would taste unpleasant and bitter, you can take our word for it and try it at your favorite restaurant to be pleasantly surprised.
Read on to find out more about bone marrow, what it looks like, how it smells, its uses in cooking, and how it affects the taste of different dishes!
What Does Bone Marrow Do?
Bone marrow is situated in the center of bones and is found in abundance in the spine, hip, and thigh areas.
It is a type of spongy tissue where the stem cells are developed into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, all of which are involved in vital bodily functions such as oxygen transportation, immune function, and blood clotting.
The bone marrow of animals like cows, sheep, goats, and moose is commonly consumed by many people around the world and is often used to make bone broth, meat dishes, or served alongside toast.
It has a high caloric and fat content, is rich in nutrients such as protein and vitamin B12, and contains riboflavin, iron, vitamin E, phosphorus, thiamine, and vitamin A.
It is also rich in collagen, the protein found in abundance in our bodies, that is thought to reduce joint pain and promote skin health.
In addition to that, bone marrow produced from these animals contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat that is believed to enhance immune function and decrease inflammation.
Although there are no studies to evaluate the direct effects of consuming bone marrow, there is plenty of research on how its components benefit the human body.
According to studies, there are several components found in bone marrow that supports joint function, decreases inflammation, and promotes skin health.
What Does Bone Marrow Look Like?
When raw, bone marrow looks like a part of the bone and is either off-white, yellow, or red, depending on the type of meat.
However, when cooked, the color changes from off-white to slightly brown, and the texture becomes really soft as well, almost like butter with a sweet, nutty flavor and a lighter texture.
The texture may be described as supple and softer than gelatin that simply melts in your mouth and leaves you craving for more.
You can enjoy it in a variety of ways, and since it is so unbelievably soft, you can simply eat it directly from the bone using a spoon.
Bone marrow smells slightly different from bones due to its high fat content. However, when it goes bad, it will have an unpleasant odor similar to spoiled meat.
How To Eat Bone Marrow
There is no single right way to eat bone marrow. You can cook it and enjoy it directly from the bone, spread it on toast like butter, melt it over your steak, roast it in the oven, or make some delicious bone broth.
However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when eating it, such as how to extract all the marrow from the bones, and since it is inside a hollow bone, it can be a little tricky to take it all out.
You need to use your hands when eating bone marrow, which might get a little messy but is worth it in the end.
Here are a few ways you can eat bone marrow directly from the bone and enjoy every bit of it:
- Don’t be shy to use your hands and tilt the bone to access all its contents. Maneuver the bone and try to poke it with a spoon. Carefully grip the bone since it may be a bit greasy because of the marrow drippings.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the cooked marrow, similar to how you would scoop out the insides of a squash or zucchini. Make sure to avoid any hard bits of bone that may come loose while cooking.
- You may use chopsticks to scrape out all the marrow from hard-to-reach places, such as the sides where a spoon might not work.
- Use a piece of bread to dab the interior of the bone and soak up all the juices to enjoy every last bit of the marrow.
- As a fun ending to the meal, pour a shot into the bone and enjoy the remnants of the bone marrow. Jameson Irish Whiskey is a popular drink of choice for this purpose.
How To Use Bone Marrow In Cooking
Till a few years back, bone marrow was considered food for dogs and was incredibly cheap. However, with its increase in popularity, it is becoming harder to find and more expensive to buy.
You can enjoy some delicious bone marrow at your favorite restaurant or make some yourself at home.
You can use bones from any animal including cows, goats, sheep, and moose, with beef bone marrow being the most popular choice among home cooks and beginners due to the size of the bones and ease of availability.
Some of the most popular sources of bone marrow are shank marrow bones, knuckle marrow bones, neck marrow bones, and oxtail.
If you’re planning to cook bone marrow at home, it requires a bit of preparation and you need to decide whether you require whole bone pieces or ones cut open from the center.
If you plan on using bone marrow as a base for bone broth or soup, you can use whole bones in your recipes.
On the other hand, if you decide to roast the bone marrow, you will have to ask the butcher to split the bones lengthwise to make it easier to extract the marrow and make it look more presentable.
Although marrow is present in all bones, not every bone is suitable for making bone marrow dishes. You need to look for broader bones with thick deposits of marrow.
To prepare the bones for cooking, you need to soak the bones in salted water one day in advance and keep them in the refrigerator.
This step removes any blood spots and bacteria, in addition to firming up the marrow for cooking.
The longer you leave the bones in the saltwater, the more blood will be extracted from them and you’ll notice how clean they will become.
As an added step, you may remove any excess meat from the bones before cooking to make them look more presentable.
You can do that by grabbing an old knife and using its back to scrape off any extra meat left on the bones. If you’ve soaked the bones in saltwater beforehand, removing the meat should be fairly easy.
After you have prepared them, here are some ways you can enjoy them:
Roasted Bone Marrow
Roasted bone marrow, sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s foie gras”, is a great appetizer that you can easily prepare at home.
For this recipe, you can request your butcher to slice the bones lengthwise so that it is easier to season them and extract the marrow once it is cooked.
Slicing the bones at home might be a bit difficult, especially if you have no prior experience, and you’ll require a few tools such as a meat clever or a band saw, accompanied by a steady pair of hands.
Alternatively, you can also use bone marrow that is unsliced. It will be cooked the same way as the sliced bones but will require a small spoon or chopsticks to access the marrow once it is ready.
To make roasted bone marrow, you will need to:
- Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with foil. If you are using unsliced bone marrow, increase the temperature to 450°F.
- Season the bone marrow aggressively with salt to bring out the flavors.
- Lay the pieces on the lined baking sheet with the marrow side up. Space them evenly apart to give the heat enough room to circulate.
- Bake the bone marrow at 425°F for about 20 minutes. Make sure to not overbake the bones since the marrow will melt completely and you won’t be able to eat it.
- When the marrow starts to bubble slightly, it means it’s ready.
You can enjoy the delicious bone marrow as is or spread it like butter on toasted or crunchy bread of your choice.
The soft, nutty flavor of the warm marrow coupled with the crunchy texture of the bread go really well with each other and make a delicious dish.
You can also season the bone marrow with a mix of parsley, shallots, oil, lemon juice, and capers, and pair it with a light, refreshing salad for a beautiful contrast of flavors.
Another great option is to spread a little roasted marrow onto a piece of steak or serve it as a side dish with a great piece of protein. Just make sure to not pair it with heavy foods like potatoes or pasta since it is very rich.
If you’re not into fresh herbs, you can also consider using flavored butter to enhance the rich taste of the marrow, or add crumbled blue cheese for a nice, creamy accent.
Other Uses of Bone Marrow
Other than roasting bone marrow and serving it as an appetizer, side dish, or main course, this delicacy can be enjoyed in other ways as well. You can make bone marrow dumplings and soup, or the most popular bone broth.
Bone broth is made by cooking the bones in seasoned water and vegetables of your choice for a good 24-48 hours.
The mixture is left to simmer so that all the beneficial nutrients and compounds from the bone and the bone marrow can be extracted.
During the process, the bone marrow dissolves into the liquid, adding a great flavor and texture to it. The bone’s minerals and proteins also dissolve into it, providing a healthy boost to the broth.
When the broth is ready, the liquid is strained, seasoned with other ingredients, and served hot.
Bone broth is a popular dish in the paleo diet since it includes ingredients only consumed in the stone age, such as grass-fed meat, fish, fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.
Now that you know what bone marrow tastes like and how you can incorporate the delicacy into your meals, here are a few additional questions we thought might help you further!
What should you look for when buying bone marrow?
As with all meats, you must make sure that you purchase a higher quality product that is preferably organic and free-range.
You must look for bones that are cleaned thoroughly by the butcher and have a nice pale pinkish color. Spots of blood on the surface are okay and acceptable.
Since the marrow is deposited in the center of the bones, it is difficult to tell exactly how much marrow there is inside the bones until you cut them open.
For this reason, it is always smart to buy a little extra and ask your butcher to cut them vertically or horizontally, depending on how you wish to cook and serve them.
Can you freeze bone marrow?
Just like other perishable meats, bone marrow freezes well if kept at the right temperature (0°F or less).
You can also freeze cooked bone marrow for up to 3 months by simply storing it in an airtight container. When you wish to use it, thaw it in the fridge overnight, warm it, and use it as you wish.
How long can bone broth be stored?
If you have an excess of bone broth, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can transfer it to the freezer if you wish to store it for longer, for up to 6 months to 1 year.
You can pour the broth in a container of your choice, depending on how much you need to store and the number of individual batches you require.
If you want to make large batches, you can store the broth in jars or freezer-safe bags. If you need small batches, you can pour the broth into an ice cube tray and transfer the frozen cubes into a freezer-safe bag or container.
Just make sure to label the frozen broth so that you don’t get confused later when trying to figure out what the mysterious brown liquid in your freezer is, and of course to use it before it gets spoiled.
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