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Prairie Butter: Roasted Beef Marrow Bones


In recent years, chefs have brought back an ancient practice, serving roasted beef marrow as an appetizer. The smooth, creamy, slightly nutty textures and flavors are hard to dislike, a sort of poor man's foie gras, unless you look into the calorie content. Marrow is mostly fat (to learn more about marrow and bones, read my article Mythbusting: Does The Bone Make The Meat Better?) so it helps to think of it like butter or bacon. Not diet food. But if you want a treat, ask your butcher for some beef marrow bones. You can ask for pieces cut from the middle of the femur about 4 to 8" long, or just ask for the whole bone. Have your butcher use a bandsaw to cut them lengthwise, like cutting open a baguette or a baked potato.

For a really decadent treat, mix roasted bone marrow in with mashed potatoes. For more recipes, get this fun book: Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore by Jennifer McLagan.

bones book

Try Marrow Butter on your next steak

Lightly salt the marrow, but skip the breadcrumbs. Roast the marrow. Let it cool and scoop it into a bowl. Mix it with an equal amount of butter, your favorite herbs, perhaps some lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, squish it all together, lay it on waxed paper, roll it into a log and chill.

You now have a variation on the classic Maître d'Hôtel Butter. Next time you serve a steak, a filet of fish, a porkchop, or whatever, place a slice of Marrow Butter blend on top.

Makes. Appetizers for 4

Takes. 1 hour


8" beef marrow bones

1/2 teaspoon cooking oil

4 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs

8" fresh baguette, cut on a bias into 1/4" slices

Try this. Try topping the marrow with chimichurri sauce. The brightness of the acidity is a perfect marriage.


1) Rinse the bones to get off any bone dust and splinters. There may be meat and fat on the outside of the bone. You can scrape it off if you wish, but I usually leave it on in case I want to gnaw on the bone afterwards.

2) When you are ready to cook, paint the cut side with oil and sprinkle on some seasoned bread crumbs. If I have fresh herbs, I use them.

3) Preheat the grill in a 2 zone configuration. Place the bones in a baking pan or cookie sheet lined with foil so drippings don't make a mess of your grill or start a confligration. Make sure to line it with foil because the drippings will burn and make cleanup a real pain. Roast them at about 325°F in the indirect zone for about 30 minutes until the marrow is 150°F and like jello.

4) While the bones are roasting, cut thin slices from the baguette and toast them on the direct heat side of the grill. They'll brown quickly so keep a close eye on them and don't let them burn.

5) When the bones are done, give them a squeeze of lemon juice and spread the marrow on the toast. Now you know why Western settlers called marrow "prairie butter".

marrow bones

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