Monday, November 24, 2008

Real Food X: Roasted Marrow Bones

Bone marrow is a food that has been prized throughout history-- from hunter-gatherer tribes to haute cuisine chefs. It's not hard to understand why, once you've tasted it. It's delicate, meaty and fatty. It's also rich in fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins K1 and K2, although this will depend on what the animal has eaten.

Roasted marrow bones make a simple appetizer. Beef bones are the best because of their size. Select wide bones that are cut about three inches long. They should be from the femur or the humerus, called the "shank bones". These are sometimes available in the frozen meats section of a grocery store, otherwise a butcher can procure them. If you have access to a farmer's market that sells meats, vendors will typically have bones cut for you if you request it.

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C).
  2. Place bones, cut side up, in a baking dish or oven-proof skillet.
  3. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the marrow begins to separate from the bone, but not much longer because it will turn to mush.
  4. Scoop out and eat the marrow by itself, on sourdough rye toast or however you please.
  5. Make soup stock from the leftover bones.


Debs said...

Mmmm, marrow... It appeals on such a primal level.

I know you're not a huge fan of French onion soup, but roasted marrow goes with it beautifully. You can eat it on the side with toasted sourdough bread, or drop dollops of marrow into the soup. The broth, the gruyère, the marrow... delicious.

Food Is Love/Seattle Local Food

Stephan Guyenet said...

Can I trade the French onion soup for another marrow bone?

Unknown said...

I think I'll stick to my K2 supplements. Fishing marrow from bones is a bit too primal for me. ;)

Debs said...

As long as I can have your soup. And another marrow bone.

Anonymous said...

I was at the Seattle citysearch site last week looking for a restaurant in Capitol Hill. The featured article was restaurants that serve marrow, the hip new dish! Three in the Cap Hill area! I can't remember all of them but one was Nick's.

Debs said...

Madison Park Café wasn't on the list, but it sometimes features marrow.

Food Is Love/Seattle Local Food

lesitedanais said...

What did I just read? You don't like French Onion Soup??? well, don't get married in France then (it's the "day after" food at traditional French weddings, and it is prepared by the best man and ... best girl? what do you call the girl again?)
Anyway, I really fancy some marrow now. I haven't had any for years...

Calvin said...

Hey Stephan,

Great blog . . . one of my favorites. I really like your choice of topics and fine them very-well researched. I definitely consider you a critical thinker. Debs, I like your comments and blog/site too.

Today's blog: Ahhhh, bone marrow--my favorite! Also, chewing the ends off of chicken bones--all the stuff good soup stock is made from.

I wonder if it's innate? Ever since before I even had all my baby teeth, my parents got a kick out of watching me work the marrow & everything edible from bones, leaving only white, polished piles of bone in my plate. Being very lean with a voracious appetite (especially my preferences for demolishing the bones off not only mine, but their plates too) neighbors and my parents friends that occasionally watched/fed me expressed their concerns, more than once, to my parents regarding their adequate feeding of me.

Today's blog brought back memories of some good laughs my family has about this over the years, so thanks.


Calvin said...

Hi Stephan,

Just checked my last post, would you change fine to find in the first paragraph--thanks.

Stephan Guyenet said...


You're dashing my hopes of marrying a beautiful French woman. How about an onion tart, do you think that would be close enough?


Thanks. I've always chewed bones to a pulp too. I love the marrow and soft ends of chicken bones. I don't have the ability to edit your comments, but I think it's clear you meant "find".

Richard Nikoley said...

Well, Stephan, you have inspired me:

Stephan Guyenet said...


Awesome! Enjoy!

theoddbod said...

my dog would love this too! ;)

Scott W said...

Stephan, speaking of fat-soluble vitamins, I can't recall seeing anything about Vitamin E on your blog. Thanks to you I feel that I have a good understanding of the roles of A, D and K. Any thoughts on the role played by E in indigenous diets? Sources, amounts? How it impacts us today?

Great blog. I always save it for last in my daily review of different blogs since I enjoy it the most.


HealthTraveler said...


Your mention of soup stock in your blog entry reminded me of a question I have had for awhile now. The question centers around the free glutamic acid (MSG) generated when making soup stocks (and fermented foods, for that matter). Jack Samuels of and the author Dr. Russell Blaylock feel that soup stocks and fermented foods produce a level of free glutamic acid that may not be conducive to an "optimal diet." What is your take on this? Do you feel that their is any legitimate concern?

By the way, I have a "big bag of bovine bones" in the freezer that are begging to be prepared and eaten. Thanks for the inspiration to dig them out and do so!!


Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Scott,

I haven't focused much on vitamin E yet but I would like to in the future. From what I know about it, I don't think it occupies the same critical importance as A D K, but it is clearly necessary (as all vitamins are).

Hi Tom,

You're right about the free glutamate; that's why it tastes so good! Anecdotally, there seems to be a difference between purified MSG and natural broths. People who react to MSG tolerate broth, in my experience. I don't know if that's due to the relative amounts or a chemical difference in purified MSG. In any case, healthy cultures have eaten broths for thousands of years, and it's very rich in minerals. I would say go for it unless your body tells you otherwise.

Scott Miller said...

If you do look into tocopherols (Vit E), from my somewhat extensive lay-person reading on the subject it appears that gamma tocopherol, the one found most commonly in the foods we eat, is the major player insofar as health benefits. Nearly all studies that show a negative or non result use alpha tocopherol (the first Vit E discovered, and mistakenly given priority over the later discovered versions), and worse, many of these these studies use the significantly less potent (by ~50%) synthetic version.

Life Extention Foundation recently posted a rebuttal to the latest anti-vitamin studies:

Stephan Guyenet said...

Thanks Scott, I'll keep that in mind.

Anna said...

Mmmmm, French onion soup! I must make some beef broth first (well, it will have to be bison because that's what I have); even in So Cal it's raining now and then, so feels a bit like soup season.

I like to roast a 1/2" slice of cauliflower until it has brown bits as a replacement for the crouton/toast raft for the broiled cheese.

French onion soup was one of the first recipes I tried in Nourishing Traditions (after it blew my mind). I made it over and over one winter. So, so good.

Anonymous said...

i grew up eating marrow!i absolutely loved it but my brothers and sisters hated it. i grew up in L.A. and my parents are from Mexico so my experience is a bit different but DELICIOUS.My mom would make a fresh, roasted but simple salsa: roasted tomato, roasted jalapeno, and some garlic.
Then she would make the marrow in a huge pot of beef stew. We'd scoop it out with a knife, spread it on a tortilla, put the salsa, lime and salt and consume! It was so great. I am curious to see how it tastes on toast. I'm sure just as good!

Dr. Curmudgeon Gee said...

sounds suitably primal for a Chinese! got to try it!

Sandbear said...

I have always been amazed that so many people turn their noses up at offal and marrow bones which to my view (and fortunately so many parts of Europe) are a delicacy. My favorite lunch at a small bistro in the old Les Halles/St. Denis area of Paris is roasted marrowbones, split length wise and served with peppery chanterelles mushrooms, toast, pommes frites and a fresh green salad, together with a good beaujolais village - what a way to start the afternoon!

Strawberry said...

Sandbear, do you remember the name of the restaurant & the name of the dish? I'm off to Paris this spring. My mom did soup with shin bones almost like Osso Bocco. The family always fought to get the bones.

Christian said...


Is the marrow from non-ecological animals raised on fodder and concentrated feedstuff also rich in K2?

Thank you said...

If pastured, humanely raised animal sources aren't an option, is it better to eat bone marrow and organ meats from conventionally raised animals than to not eat them at all?