Nov 29, 2014

BONE MARROW, “the frugal man’s foie gras”

Moloka'i Roasted Grass-fed Angus Beef Marrow Bones
Recipe below

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In recent years, bone marrow has re-emerged as "haute cuisine", taking the culinary world by storm. It has even been labeled as “the frugal man’s foie gras” unless you eat it at a high-end restaurant, then expect to pay big bucks for it. Bone marrow is also considered an exotic "superfood". It has been found to be rich in calcium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium, and helps strengthen bones and connective tissues in our body. A three-ounce serving of bone marrow contains nearly 500 calories, around 7 grams of protein and over 50 grams of fat (most of which is monounsaturated). It is a smorgasbord of fat-soluble nutrients (including vitamins A. E, K and D) that fuel the heart, protect cells and boost the immune system.

Bone marrow has been popular all over the world as a core ingredient in a variety of dishes from a soup base for the national staple dish, (phở) in Vietnam. In the Philippines their is a native dish called "bulalo", a sweet-salty-peppery broth which highlights bone marrow still in the bone. In Italy, osso buco, translates as "hole in the bone", referring to the delectable marrow in the center of the slowly braised veal shank bone. In France roasted beef bone marrow is traditionally eaten on toasted bread sprinkled with coarse sea salt. 
Bone marrow at Galatoire's 33, New Orleans
(Photo by Dinah Rogers, NOLA.com / The Times-Picayune archive) 

In New Orleans, Galatoire's 33 is serving horseradish crusted bone marrow with fried kale and Leidenheimer toast rounds as an appetizer. Montreal's Joe Beef restaurant is serving roasted bone marrow with a variety of garnishes including snails, goat cheese, ramps, mushrooms, even crawfish étouffée. These are the reasons I am not a vegetarian, rather an unabashed carnivore!

What better place to enjoy this delicacy than Hawaii. Our premium grass-fed Angus beef are prized for their high-quality meat. Hawaii's second largest ranch, Moloka'i Ranch, is raising hormone-free Angus beef, locally born, raised and finished on Moloka'i. This only means that the bone marrow will also be of the highest quality, without the toxins found in conventionally-raised, chemically-treated animals.

You may be hesitant about trying this exotic super food, because you're not sure how it will taste or you have no idea how to prepare it. Not only does bone marrow taste great, it's very easy to prepare. When roasted, marrow behaves like a cross between pâté and melting butter. Like pâté, marrow is usually spread over thinly sliced, toasted bread. Trying marrow once often results in never turning it down again.

If you want to try this delicacy at home, you will have to find a butcher to properly cut the bones for you. I've been told that on Oahu, Whole Foods in Kahala sells beef marrow bones, and will cut them for you for $5.00 a pound, but I'm not sure if they are from grass-fed beef. On Moloka'i, Friendly Market sells them for the same price, but not from grass-fed beef, unfortunately they hardly ever have them, so you would have to order them special. 

"Special-cut" bones from
the Moloka'i Livestock Cooperative

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The Moloka'i Livestock Cooperative, on the other hand, will be able to provide the highest quality, grass-fed beef marrow bones for a whopping $8.00 a pound if you buy them cut lengthwise, which they call a "special-cut".  I buy it cut across the bone for $1.89 a pound and work a little harder for my marrow. I guess it depends on who you are serving as to how much you are willing to pay. What is "superfood" worth anyway? 

The Moloka'i Livestock Cooperative is located at 3367 Mauna Loa Highway, in Ho'olehua, on the way to the west end of the island, just before the airport on the left side. They are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 567-6994. In addition to beef, MLC also processes other meats like venison, sheep, and hogs.

Roasted Bone Marrow, Hawaii-style
This is a simple way to try this "beefy butter" delicacy at home as an appetizer (pupu).

Ingredients:
Roasted Bone Marrow, Hawaiian-style
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6 beef leg bones cut in half lengthwise, about 4 or 5 inches long (see photo above), or buy 6 bones cut across the bone 3 inches long (see photo to the right)

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup soy sauce (I like Tamari sauce, which is a stronger soy sauce)

3 tablespoons lemon zest

Togorashi (a peppery Japanese condiment found at Friendly Market, use sparingly!)

12 sprigs of fresh thyme (from Kumu Farms)

1 jar of pickled sweet Maui onion with ogo (seaweed) from Friendly Market (see photo below). If you can't get this wonderful product where you live, try another pickled vegetable, like kimchi.

1 9-ounce package Saloon Pilot crackers from Diamond Bakery ($4.59 at Kualapu'u Market)

Procedure:
Mix melted butter, soy sauce and lemon zest into a soy glaze. Place the bones in a casserole dish and brush the glaze over the bones, coating all of its surfaces. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Put bones, marrow side up, in a roasting pan. Brush the top of each bone with more of the marinating glaze. Season lightly with a few shakes of Togorashi seasoning and top each bone with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. Roast for about 15 minutes depending on how big the bones are, or until the marrow begins to slightly bubble and gets soft, but not cooked so long that the marrow melts and drizzles out. Let marrow bones cool slightly before serving, you don't want your guests to burn their fingers.
Pickled Maui Onions

Serve each roasted bone with a little pickled sweet Maui onion with ogo (seaweed), and Hawaii's own, Diamond Bakery Saloon Pilot crackers. Let your guests remove the marrow from the split bone with a narrow spoon and spread it on each cracker, topped with a little sweet Maui onion. Makes 2 delicious appetizer servings.

Note: Another way to serve bone marrow is to soak the raw cut bones in warm water to loosen the marrow. Remove the marrow and use in other recipes, such as dusting the marrow with salt and flour and then sauté it in butter on medium low heat so as not to melt the marrow. Or add the marrow to scrambled eggs with torn parsley leaves. Or slice the marrow into medallions and serve floating in a rich beef consommé. To make bone marrow butter, roast 10, 3-inch bones as described above, remove the marrow and place in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter. Puree until combined. Spread on toasted crusty bread. Sooo many ways to use this delicious, nutritious product. Go ahead, give bone marrow a try!

Oxtail & Barley Soup
Oxtail & Barley Soup
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In case you were wondering what oxtails are, they are the tail meat of the steer.  In olden days, it came from the tail of an ox. The tail is skinned and cut into sections; each section has a tailbone with some marrow in the center, and a bony portion of meat surrounding the tail. The tail is gelatinous, and is best used for stocks, soups, and braises that are rich with flavor. This is a simple recipe that does take a little time to cook.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds oxtails, rinsed and patted dry ($6.99 a pound at Friendly Market)
3 quarts cold water
1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon beef base or 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
Salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Procedure:
In a large pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil and brown oxtails on all sides. Discard any fat in pan. Add water, and bring to a boil, skimming off any frothy foam that comes to the surface. Add barley, bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic, celery, onion and beef base. Bring back to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the oxtails and let cool.

Now add carrots and tomatoes, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. At this point return the oxtail meat back into the soup. Taste for seasoning, and add salt if necessary. Remove bay leaf and serve with a sprinkle of parsley in every bowl. Makes 6 servings.

Note: For another delicious Chinese oxtail stew, check out this recipe for Chinese Braised Oxtail Stew.
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