Amplify The Flavors Of Bone Marrow With A Simple Roasting Method

In spite of the fact that it is not a common sight on modern dinner tables, humans have been eating animal bone marrow for over 400,000 years. These days, bone marrow bones are more likely to be found in a bone broth. However, there are more ways to put them to use — you can easily roast this relatively affordable cut for flavorful results. 

Bones for marrow are typically derived from either the shank or femur. A relatively straight bone, femurs are preferred as they make for easier cutting and have an excellent bone-to-marrow ratio. The marrow itself is a thick, pasty substance found in the hollow center of the bone, referred to by butchers as the pipe. When cooked, marrow is yellowish in color and yields high amounts of healthy fats, vitamins, iron, riboflavin, and proteins like collagen.

Known for its rich, buttery texture and nutty flavor, roasted bone marrow can be scooped out of the pipe and smeared over a piece of baguette, as has been a tradition in France for hundreds of years. Roasting is by far the most popular method for cooking marrow since that makes the fat spreadable and amplifies the already assertive taste. And it's not difficult to do — all you need is an oven and some salt. 

How to roast marrow bones

Before you roast, you'll want to try to source quality bones from cows that have been raised in a pasture. This will ensure they have had the best diet and produced quality marrow as a result. However, if the grocery store is all that is available to you, look for marrow that has a slight pink color.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and assemble the bones in a roasting pan fat side down if you've had the butcher cut them lengthwise. The pan will not require any oil or seasoning. The fat will render from the marrow, which will both lubricate the pan and give the marrow a light crisp. Roast the bones in the oven for about half an hour, depending on the size of the bones. You can tell the marrow is finished cooking when it is browned and has a gelatinized texture. 

Once the bones are out of the oven, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the marrow. The resulting flavor should have an amplified nuttiness, an umami kick, and a hint of sweetness, while the texture should be warm and soft, like creamy butter. Along with being smeared over a slice of bread, you can serve it with your favorite bed of microgreens and top it with herbs like parsley, oregano, or chives.