I wasn’t going to write a blog post tonight… I planned on cooking a simple dinner and getting some work done. A trip to the grocery store on my way home set into action a course of events that would change my plans… and possibly my life.
WARNING: What follows is graphic food porn. It’s not for the faint of heart- or vegetarians. Proceed with caution.
Bone Marrow. Mussels. Bread. Heirloom tomato. Other orgasmic flavors. This ladies and gentlemen, is chef’s food… meant to be eaten on a day off or after a hectic seervice. Humble ingredients (often scraps) transformed into stuffing flavors.
I had never had or cooked marrow bones before tonight… Now I see why Anthony Bourdain goes on and on about this particular bit of offal. It’s rich and buttery, slightly gelatenous… It’s the sandwich spread that meat intended…
Is there anything better than a piece of crusty bread soaked in mussel broth? Yes… A piece of bread soaked in mussel broth, topped with bone marrow, mussel, bacon, onion, chilis, tomato and parsley! How’s that for an amuse bouche!
Before I get into how this sordid affair started, here’s the recipe:
For the marrow bones:
2 Marrow bones (about 2″ pieces)
Roast at 450 for about 15 minutes or until a knife slides easily in and out of the marrow.
For the tomato gremolatta:
1 Heirloom tomato, seeded (seeds reserved) and diced 1/4″.
1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped.
1 Meyer lemon, juiced and zested.
Onion tops (~4″ piece), chopped fine. You can substitute a green onion if onion tops are not available.
Salt/pepper to taste.
Olive Oil to taste.
Mix all ingredients, reserve.
For the Mussels:
1 bulb onion, sliced thin.
2 Fresno chiles, seeded, sliced thin.
2 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/4″ lardon.
1 Dozen fresh mussels.
1 cup beer or dry white wine.
1 tablespoon butter.
Salt to taste
Render the bacon fat, remove bacon pieces and reserve. Sautee onions and peppers in the rendered bacon fat with a heavy pinch of salt. Once the vegetables are translucent, add the mussels and beer. Cover and cook for three minutes then remove from heat and keep covered. Just before service, add butter and stir thuroughly so that sauce, onions, and peppers go into the shells of the mussels. Top with crispy bacon pieces after plating.
For the bread:
1/2 loaf Ciabatta bread.
Remove centers. Tear into pieces, keeping outer crust whole. Toast in 425F oven until light brown and crispy.
Now, if you haven’t already stopped reading this to make this [I would have if I were you]… here was my journey to this culinary porn and life changing offal experience.
Walking through the grocery store, I saw that mussels were on sale. I picked up a dozen… then got this crazy idea to do a surf and turf… mussels and bone marrow. I picked up a few marrow bones from the butcher (had to ask for them but most butchers will stock them) and headed to the produce department. Total bill for the protiens of this surf and turf: $5.90.
I was looking for some leeks, but there was a beautiful looking pile of local sweet bulb onions with the greens still attached. They were cheaper than leeks and more beautiful… sold! I picked up a couple of fresno chilis, a loaf of fresh ciabatta bread, and a Rouge Juniper Ale (that the bagger FORGOT to put in my cart! #Fail).
I had a few things at home and quickly got to work. Sadly the marrow bones were frozen solid, so I bagged the bones in a ziplock and turned on the immersion circulator. Set it to 22 degrees Celsius and had a hyper speed de-froster! While the bones were thawing, I got to work on the mise en place.
Bacon, cut into lardon and rendered in a cold pan over medium heat.
Onion and peppers (seeded), fine julianne.
I took the center out of the bread and tore it into pieces… this got toasted (dry) in a 400F oven.
Look at this tomato:
It got diced and tossed with the tops of the onion (about a 4″ piece), the juice and zest of a meyer lemon, a handfull of chopped parsley (flat leaf Italian), a two finger pinch of kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and a quick drizzle of olive oil. This “gremolata” [kind of] would cut through the richness of the bone marrow.
The marrow bones got a touch of salt and went straight into a 450F oven… they roasted there for about 15 minutes.
While the marrow bones were roasting, I sauteed the onions and peppers with a two finger pinch of salt (in the reserved bacon fat of course!). Once they were tender and slightly translucent, I dropped the mussels and about a cup of beer. I had intended to use white wine for this, but none was available… I guess I need to buy some wine. But what we’re looking for here is a bit of flavorful liquid for the mussels to steam in, and to deglaze the pan. Beer served the purpose just fine and also was able to capture all of the alcohol soluable flavors in the pan… good substitution!
I covered the mussels, and cut the heat after about 3 minutes. They rested, covered, until I was ready to plate.
The plate started with arranging the toasted bread and the seeds of the heirloom tomato. At $4.99/lb, you really want to use every bit of an heirloom tomato. The seeds are what Ferran Adria calls “tomato caviar”- the quintessential essence of tomato with the texture of caviar.
I put the mussel broth into a stemless wine glass to preserve the plating, mussels went right on top of the arranged bread crusts (and topped with the crispy bacon), bone marrow went on the plate and got topped with the tomato gremolatta.
Pure un-adulterated food-gasam followed.
Still reading? Haven’t gone to your favorite butcher to get marrow bones yet? The least I can do is share some of this graphic surf and turf love with you…
Still reading? How can I convince you to source these ingredients and start cooking? Let me tell you how good this plate was… I turned down an evening with two lovely ladies for this meal. My friends Harmony and Lydia called me just after I left the grocery store asking me to go to some crepe place with them… I told them I was staying in. Disappointed, they texted me a few minutes later saying that I was missing out. I told them to watch the blog and facebook for the food porn coming soon. Lydia then called me a dirty slut and I told her I loved a big thick bone marrow. I feel like I made the right choice tonight. Now go cook some marrow and mussels!