Monday, 22 March 2010

How to talk to a butcher

Marrow bone and parsley salad

This is the kind of thing that I would never in a million years cook if it weren't for Giles and his not-scared-of-anything eating. It's a recipe from Fergus Henderson's seminal cookbook Nose to Tail Eating, which was published in a tiny print run in 1999.

It's a perfectly terrifying cookbook, advising on how to cook brains and brawn and pig's heads and other parts of animals you'd previously thought were totally un-eatable. Its saving grace for the amateur cook is how charmingly its written; you can tell that Fergus is a nice guy and just wants for you to do well and live a long and happy life. His exortation in his recipe for boiled gammon and carrots with parsley sauce that the sauce must be served in a jug so that guests can "express themselves" is an editorial tick that has entered into our daily cannon.

Anyway, on Saturday we went to the vastly overpriced farmer's market near us and found a butcher who was selling marrowbones for about tuppence each. (Butchers often throw them out, or give them to people to feed to their dogs, but don't let that put you off. You might be able to pick some up for free if you're more charming and brave than I am.)

We took them home and roasted them in a slightly too-hot oven for about 20 minutes. If you do this, I would advise you set your oven to about 200C and fashion little foil cups to sit the bottom of the bone in because otherwise stuff leaks out everywhere, which is a shame. Depending on the size of the marrow bone, people can eat three or four little ones and two or three big ones. You can tell the marrow bone is ready because the marrow will be sort of bouncy and slightly melted but hasn't entirely disappeared.

You serve these roasted bones with toasted sourdough and also a parsley salad, which goes like this:

1 large handful/bunch parsley, roughly chopped

small handful capers, chopped or not, up to you

half a shallot, chopped

You then dress this salad with a large squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil. The idea is to spread the toast with some marrow, top it with parsley and eat.

This isn't a meal, obviously, for anyone frightened of salt or fat as it's very greasy and an overindulgence can quickly make you feel queasy. But it IS delicious, modern and economical. And, I daresay, gives you a very shiny coat.

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