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Bone marrow and parsley salad May 22, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Beef.

I know I mention Fergus Henderson a lot – and this is not a dedicated Fergus Henderson blog! However, I hope that you, gentle readers, will forgive the frequent mentions of Fergus Henderson, as he is someone I draw inspiration from. Whenever I’m out of ideas about things to cook, I go back to his cookbooks and read a few of the recipes – even if I don’t end up making that recipe, it’s usually enough to inspire me to do something.

In fact, I’m such a big fan of Fergus Henderson that when I heard he was coming as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival I knew I had to go. So H and I went – and ate and drank a tremendous amount! If you are interested in seeing what we ate, I posted some photos on twitter at the time of the event (start with this photo and work forward). One of the standout dishes of the night was the bone marrow and parsley salad. It turns out this dish is a standard at St John’s (Henderson’s restaurant) and is never removed from the menu. After tasting this dish at the dinner and then seeing bone marrow for sale, I knew I had to try to create it myself.

The creation process is indeed very simple. To start with, I got my bones and put them in a baking dish. These were then baked for about 20 minutes.

The trick was to cook them until the marrow went soft, but not so much that the marrow melted away. Needless to say, I anxiously checked them while they were cooking, as I didn’t want to lose any of the precious marrow!

While the marrow was cooking, I prepared my parsley salad. I roughly chopped some parsley (until it was ‘disciplined’, as Henderson instructs) and added shallots. I also added a generous amount of capers. As Henderson notes in his book, and instructed on the night of the St John’s Dinner, the ratio of capers to salad is important. You don’t want so many that they overwhelm the salad; but nor do you want so few that you never get any. Getting this ratio right was hard for me – I am a huge caper fan and will eat them with anything (and by themselves too). In my opinion there’s no such thing as too many capers! However, I tried my best to restrain myself with the caper amount.

When the marrow was ready, I dressed the salad and tried to mix the capers through evenly.

The next step was simply to assemble everything. I thinly sliced some pieces of bread (rye sourdough, in this case) and toasted them lightly. I added a scoop of the salad onto the plate and added the bone marrow. Extra salt was also available as per Henderson’s instructions.

The procedure for eating was to take a piece of toast, dig out a bit of marrow and spread it on the toast, add the parsley salad on top and salt to taste. The marrow was creamy and rich, the parsley was sharp and provided a welcome contrast to the marrow, and adding extra salt just made it wonderful. My only complaint was that I could have done with more capers – but I know that’s just me.

This dish wouldn’t be enough so serve as a main course but as a starter (or even a snack, perhaps?) it was fantastic. The only difficulty we had was digging the marrow out of the bones – one of the bones in particular had quite a narrow opening that was too narrow for our teaspoons. In the end we used a chopstick to dig it out! Of course, what we really needed was a proper marrow scoop

While I know that it is never mentioned that Nero Wolfe ate bone marrow, this dish is something I can definitely picture him eating on a fairly regular basis. This dish is a good example of how a few ingredients can work together to create something quite different and new.


1. Adelaide - May 22, 2010

Of course, one can’t possibly have ill disciplined parsley, dahling ….

inspiredbywolfe - May 23, 2010

No, ill disciplined parsley is unthinkable! I just hope that my disciplining was up to Mr Henderson’s standards!

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