Many people call it God’s butter. Most of us have probably eaten it cooked richly into the broth of pho, melted into the makings of pot-au-feu or as the savory center of ossobuco. Anthony Bourdain has even referred to it as his “death row meal.” So what is it that makes bone marrow so irresistible, and how do we make it for ourselves?
At Morningside Heights newcomer, Flat Top Grill, they’ve gone ahead and made the good stuff a menu mainstay. Since opening up last year, the crew at this Amsterdam Avenue restaurant has been roasting the holy grail of meats to an expert creaminess — and the locals are eating it up. Owner Richard Kashida describes the flavor and texture of the marrow as a “hot buttery spread” that they serve with toasted brioche slices (a.k.a lightly crispy and heavenly when topped with marrow).
If the flavor alone weren’t enough, they also offer up three traditional toppings to try out on our tastebuds: caramelized sweet onion jam, lemon-dressed parsley and Maldon sea salt, a flaked variety of ye old sodium compound straight from England’s south coast. “We try to pair the bone marrow with flavors that go well together,” Richard explains (while we drool.) “Sweetness from the onions, salt from the Maldon, some acid and light bitterness from the lemon juice dressed parsley, which helps to bring out and enhance the flavor of the marrow.”
Historically, marrow has been eaten all ‘round the world, especially incorporated into many soups around the globe. As it simmers, it adds a smooth, fatty richness to the broth around it. Vietnamese pho and Filipino bulalo both get a complex boost thanks to beef bones. And back in 18th century Europe, they even invented a special narrow spoon just for scooping marrow out of bones.
At Flat Top, they’ve brought back the petite utensil, but they’re keeping it simple in the kitchen. “We cook it in our oven for anywhere from 10-15 minutes until the marrow is cooked through,” Richard says. But can just a light roasting make things delicious? Yes, yes it can. (Trust us.)
Want to make it yourself? “Cooking bone marrow at home will just require an oven and patience,” Richard says. Marrow bones generally go for about 3 bucks a pound at butcher shops around the city, packing a whole lotta flavor by the ounce. Folks like The Meat Hook in Williamsburg and Los Paisanos Meat Market in Cobble Hill specialize in super fresh hard-to-find meats, so we’d recommend giving them a call to see what’s in stock for the day.
“Of course you will have to have your bone pre-cut for you in 2" cylinders, and/or lengthwise,” Richard avises. It makes the cooking and eating process easier. Plus there’s something delightfully animalistic about scraping every last morsel out of the open bone — especially in the comfort of our own homes.
Or if you’re looking for a quicker fix, and a chance to try some expert marrow roastin’, head on over to Flat Top at 1241 Amsterdam Avenue. Bring a friend and share in the shameless scooping, and be sure to ask for a couple of glasses of sangria. (Scientifically proven to lower inhibitions when it comes to ferociously eating this stuff.) When someone said “all that glitters is not gold,” they probably meant to add “but roasted bone marrow is.”