I learned to appreciate “weird” foods from the French side of my family. While my Southern/Scotch grandmother filled our bellies with her chilies and soups, cookies and fudge sauce — the Caribbean/French side swooned over things like boudin noir (blood sausage), accras (codfish fritters), calves liver, and marrow. In fact, once when I was ten, my Caribbean/French grandmother, Madou, actually served a whole calves brain topped with tomato sauce for dinner one night. Picture that… and then picture my horrified 10-year-old response.
However, the boudin noir is amazing. I still love calves liver, the accras is a family-wide favorite and I always claim any leftover marrow bones from dinner.
I’m willing to bet I’ve lost at least half of you by now — and you’ve moved on to something more mainstream, that meatloaf or chicken, something with an egg on top… but for you hearty few who’ve decided to stick around, you’re gonna love this…
My first recollections of marrow came from my grandfather who would always greedily pick the beef bones from the pot or platter and noisily suck the marrow out. I’m not gonna lie, that sucking sound is reminiscent of a sinus infection, but the marrow is not. It’s like intense umami butter – with a fatty richness that coats your tongue. I can’t get enough – so much so – that whenever I see them on a menu or in the market, I get them.
Restaurants can source the long bones and butcher them vertically, like a long narrow serving dish for the heavenly marrow. Diners scoop out the marrow and spread it on bread or toast points. My butcher doesn’t cut the bones vertically, so I work with the cross cut bones and that’s just fine. I like to rub a little garlic on grilled bread and finish with fresh parsley and a little lemon zest – kind of like a gremolata. With a glass of red wine or bubbly, it’s positively DECADENT! Happy New Year!
Garlicky Marrow Bruschetta
- 2 pounds marrow bones cut crosswise about 1- 1/2" thick
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4-5 slices artisan bread from a boule or country loaf with a sturdy crust
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- chopped parsley
- lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the marrow bones cut-side-up on top of the foil. Sprinkle with the salt and roast in the hot oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the grill to a medium high heat -- about 400° and grill the bread on either side until browned and crisp with telltale bits of char. Transfer the bread to a sheet pan and rub one side of the bread lightly with raw garlic. The crispy bread acts as a grater and infuses the bread with the garlic aroma and flavors -- so don't be too heavy handed -- you won't use the whole clove. Cut the bread into halves or thirds (depending on how large the slices are) and serve in a bread basket or alongside the marrow bones.
When the marrow has finished roasting, transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with chopped parsley and lemon zest.
To serve, use a small spreader knife to scoop out the marrow - spread it on the grilled garlic toasts, like butter and enjoy!
More Weird French Appetizers: