Beef Femur bone (kept whole and split length wise, or cut in “rings” as shown here)
2-3 large garlic cloves
Olive oil and salt
Salad or Bread to eat with it (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Lay out marrow bones on foiled baking sheet, coating with olive oil and salt to taste. Peel and smash garlic cloves, rubbing them onto marrow and leaving in place for roasting.
Cook in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the marrow is bubbly not so long that it liquefies and falls out of the bone. Let cool 5 minutes, then scoop out and enjoy with bread or salad.
Today we’re talking bone marrow, our last pre-Neolithic inspired recipe for a while before we dive into bread, beer, cheese, and settled life.
If you listened to the first episode of the Anthrochef podcast, you know that eating meat played a big role in growing the brains of our earliest ancestors. Remember though, that we did not start out as hunters, but rather as scavengers. DNA evidence shows that the earliest humans ate with the dogs and picked clean carcasses some other predator had already killed.
But most of the good meat was already gone by the time these upright apes could get to it. What was left besides a few meager scraps?
Bone marrow, the spongy, flexible interior of most animal bones. Somewhere along the lines, our ancestors figured out they could bash rocks against the bones or the bones against the rocks and access the calorie rich marrow hidden inside. This rock use counts as proto tool usage, meaning that hominids were the only species smart enough to be able to crack open big bones like the femur. It became our niche, and along with the later invention of cooking, laid the groundwork for our big human brains.
Chefs have recently brought it back into vogue after a brief falling out of favor, but roasted marrow as a spread on salad or bread remained popular from the earliest human moments, all the way through history up to the 19th century, a delicious way to use every bit of costly meat, whether hunted or purchased.
First and foremost, this is definitely a cheater recipe. Ancient hominids did not have these clean, small slices of bone, nor did they have olive oil to coat or ovens to roast them in. Our earlier, closer to ape-like ancestors probably just threw smashed bones on the fire or just sucked out the marrow raw.
Instead, this recipe is meant to be a modern creation, inspired by the ancient practice. Roasted marrow is meaty, delicious, and spreadable, almost like a poor man’s pâté. The flavor however, is quite rich.
Okay, let’s cook.
Preheat the oven to 400F and get your bones on a baking sheet. If you can get a whole bone split lengthwise, it’s more fun and will yield more marrow, but these smaller cuts are all my butcher has for sale so they will have to do. Drizzle with oil and coat with salt.
Next, peel and smash them garlic cloves.
Rub the garlic directly onto the seasoned marrow and put in the hot oven.
You have to watch these little guys. Cook too long, and the marrow will liquefy and ooze out of the bone. The little ones take about 15 minutes in my oven.
A nice, barely dressed green salad, and then. . .
It doesn’t get more meaty than this.