roast bone marrow and parsley salad
It's no surprise to my friends that Fergus Henderson is something of a hero of mine. I can always be counted on to order the weirdest, offaly-est option on the menu, so Henderson's restaurant St John, with its 'nose to tail' eating approach, is something of a Mecca to me.
On any given visit you might find chitterlings, squirrel, pig's head or ox heart, showcased simply and without fuss. Everything I have ordered there has been delicious. One dish that never leaves the daily changing menu is roast bone marrow and parsley salad, which you can order at the bar with a cheeky pint of Breton cider. I see it as almost criminal not to stop in and do so whenever I am within a one mile radius of the place.
Alternatively, if you have a sympathetic butcher willing to give you a calf's front leg bones then you can make this at home.
Fergus' recipe serves four. He does not specify an exact oven temperature but I find 230°C (450°F) works well, or 200°C (400°F) if you have very large bones.
You will need teaspoons or long thin implements like a lobster pick to scrape the marrow out of the bone.
12 x 7-8cm pieces of middle veal marrowbone
a healthy bunch of flat parsley, picked from its stems
2 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 modest handful of capers (extra fine if possible)
juice of one lemon
extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of sea salt and pepper
a good supply of toast
coarse sea salt
What to do
Put the bone marrow in an ovenproof frying pan and place in a hot oven. The roasting process should take about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the bone. You are looking for the marrow to be loose and giving, but not melted away, which it will do if left too long (traditionally the ends would be covered to prevent any seepage, but I like the colouring and crispness at the end).
Meanwhile, lightly chop your parsley, just enough to discipline it, mix it with the shallots and capers, and at the last moment, dress.
Here is a dish that should not be completely seasoned before leaving the kitchen rendering a last minute seasoning unnecessary by the actual eater; this, especially in the case of coarse sea salt, gives texture and uplift at the moment of eating. My approach is to scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast* and season with coarse sea salt. Then a pinch of parsley salad on top of this and eat. Of course once you have your pile of bones, salad, toast and salt it is 'liberty hall'.
*At St John they grill long slices of white sourdough so it is crisp, chewy and attractively seared with black charcoal lines.
Recipe from Nose to Tail Eating, A Kind of British Cooking, by Fergus Henderson
26 St John Street
Tel: 020 7251 0848