Melted marrow (v)
You may have seen enormous marrows at a market recently. Or perhaps like me you have been growing courgettes this summer and left the patch untended for a few days, returning to discover that your sweet little courgettes, left unpicked, have swollen into humongous Mr. Hyde versions of themselves.
"We'll feed them to the pigs." was our first reaction, but wait! These are summer squash, related to their winter cousins pumpkin and butternut, which are also capable of reaching gargantuan sizes. Surely there must be something we can do?
I am very fond of marrows now.
They do need some gentle love and attention, but you'll end up with the perfect comfort food. We ate this with roast chicken, braised rabbit and on its own in big steaming bowlfuls.
The trick is to separate the pale, creamy yellow flesh inside from the rest of the monster. Once cooked, marrow has a delicate, clear flavour which reminds me of Chinese winter melon and has the consistency of softened butter.
First cut the marrow down into manageable sections and remove the dark green skin with a sharp knife. These blocks can then be sliced into rounds and chopped into cubes. I throw away the spongy, seedy parts as I find them stringy and chewy.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
2kg marrow, peeled and cut into large 5cm chunks
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
Sea salt and pepper
A cup of water
What to do
You'll need a big pot that can hold all the marrow, preferably heavy based. Generously cover the base with about 1cm of olive oil, add the garlic and sprinkle liberally with salt and ground pepper.
Add a third of the marrow cubes and then stir well until every cube is coated with oil and seasoning. Repeat with the remaining two thirds of marrow and finish with a final glug of oil and a scattering of salt and pepper. Pour over the water and cover with a tightly fitting lid.
Place the pot over a low flame and forget about it for 45 minutes. When you lift the lid the cubes should be almost submerged in bubbling golden liquid. Give it another 15 minutes if not. Then remove the lid and leave the marrow to simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until you can only see a little liquid left.
Coax the marrow into a large serving dish, or ladle into deep bowls straight from the pot. Eat with a spoon.