Monday 8 December 2014

bone marrow


I think there is something about bone marrow that connects us to a very primal part of ourselves.  Some anthropologists believe that in some parts of the world early humans were scavengers rather than hunters and bone marrow would have supplied the large brains of us tool-using hominids with much needed fat.

Be that as it may, I like to indulge myself in primal activity now and then and what could be more indulgent than the exquisite, fatty and nutty bone marrow? However, as if the bone marrow weren't enough of an indulgence, I like to smother it with red wine braised beef brisket and oxtail. I promise you that this will be one of the most memorable dishes you will ever enjoy, right down to the last drop of marrow as you will surely wiggle your tongue along every crevice of your boat-shaped bone in pursuit of it. I took a photo of a friend of mine getting right amongst it like a Cro-Magnon and I have to say, it was an image to remember. 

The great thing about living in an area with access to farms with their own country meat stores is that you can ask for the cuts of meat you want. This ensures that the next time the cattle goes to the abattoir, part of it has your name on it and you will get the freshest cuts from a small herd of local organically raised animals. What can be better that that?

A good rapport with your local butcher is particularly handy when it comes to preparing this dish as you will need to ask for the shin bone to get sliced lengthwise. I tend to put my order in at Oakridge Acres because their meat is outstanding. The cattle are fed mostly grass/hay as well as non GMO barley. This is some of the best tasting meat I have ever had and I’ll look for any excuse to drive down to Ayr to pick up my order.


Serves 4

2 Tb. olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 beef shin bones cut lengthwise
400 g beef brisket
300 g oxtail
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2/3 bottle red wine
1 cup tomato passata
1 sprig of thyme
Parsley, finely chopped
Lemon rind, grated 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. First start off by seasoning the brisket and oxtail amply with salt and pepper
  3. Heat up the olive oil in a deep cast iron pan or pot on medium high heat
  4. Sear the meat on all sides until brown
  5. Remove meat, set aside
  6. Throw in the onions, carrots, celery, and thyme sprig and cook for a 3 minutes
  7. Place the meat back in then pour in the red wine followed by the tomato passata
  8. Let it come to a simmer then cover with lid and place in oven to cook for 3 hours
  9. Remove pan or pot from the oven. The meat should be extremely tender. Using two forks shred the meat up and stir it into the sauce so the meat gets completely incorporated into that lovely dark red braising liquid. Cover and set aside.
  10. Turn the oven up to 420 F
  11. Lay the bones marrow side up on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-15 minutes. Once the marrow begins to soften and bubble, remove it from the oven
  12. Pile on the shredded braised beef on the bone marrow then sprinkle with the chopped parsley and lemon rind for a punch of colour and freshness
  13. Serve with a nice mash as I did or with a couple of golden buttery slices of toast for scooping up that marrowy goodness
TIP: The brilliance of this dish comes out when you get the braised meat and the bone marrow in the same mouthful. The sweet nuttiness of the marrow along with the rich savouriness of the braised meat is out of this world.

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