The Greatest Form of Flattery: Blatantly Copying Fergus Henderson’s Roasted Marrow Bones with Parsley Salad

Roasted Beef Bone Marrow On Toast

Sometimes there is just no reason to be extra creative and come up with your own spin on a dish.  Sometimes you just have to follow a recipe exactly as it is.  Sometimes you have to trust that the least amount of ingredients and cooking time is just right – no need for tweaking or fiddling with.  And sometimes, and only sometimes, do you just have to believe the hype.

Roasted Beef Bone Marrow with Toast and Parsley Salad

Last year we had the pleasure of not only eating a delicious, long and leisurely lunch at Fergus Henderson’s offal-favorite restaurant, St. John, but we were lucky to meet Fergus himself (who happened to be relaxing and enjoying a few glasses of champagne at his bar).  As you can read (and listen to via podcast) in our earlier post about St. John, I was a bit heady from the vino and my confidence level shot up as I almost gave the man a bear hug for a fabulous dining experience.  His signature dish is one that has been copied over and over and over again by some of the greatest chefs – Roasted Bone Marrow with Parsley Salad and Vinaigrette.   We’ve eaten it at St. John, we’ve eaten it at Gabriele Hamilton’s NYC eatery, Prune and now we’ve eaten it at Chez We Are Never Full.  Many people may wonder what they hype of eaten gelatinous, greasy bone marrow on toast sprinkled with bits of rock or sea salt is all about (sorry, I just salivated as I typed that).  

Roasted Beef Bone Marrow with Toast and Parsley Salad

Well, it is fatty, warming, unctuous, rich and as pleasing (to me) as the finest fois gras.  It is just f*cking good.  Most restaurants that sell Roasted Marrow charge a ridiculous amount – most of these bones cost less than $2 a pound (at least in my parts!).  If you can’t find marrow bones (we used beef bones, but veal are very popular as well), talk with your butcher about ordering some.  They freeze well and can be used to thicken soups (like our friend Marc did in this traditional soup) and stocks if you prefer not to have them roasted. You can make this at home for an easy and rich starter or pair it with a nice soup for a two-part meal.

St. John's London - Marrow Grease

We’re not reinventing the wheel here, we’re just paying homage to a fabulous, satisfying and simple dish from a pretty fabulous and simple chef.  If you don’t believe us, you can check out our friend Claudia’s post about the same darn thing.  We didn’t soak our bones like she did but they still came out perfect.


  • 12 3-to-4 inch high calf or beef marrow bones
  • a few bunches of fresh, flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced thin or chopped finely
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of capers
  • 1 french baguette, sliced in rounds and grilled or lightly toasted in the oven
  • coarse sea salt (like Maldon)

For dressing:

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt and pepper

What to do:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Add marrowbones (standing up straight) to an oven-proof tray or pan and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Depending on how thick they are, you may want to check them at about 15 minutes to see how the inside looks. You don’t want it to be roasted so much that the marrow is hard, you want it loose and melted-looking, but still slightly firmish.
  2. While the bones roast, make your parsley salad by lightly chopping the parsley and then tossing it with the shallots, capers and salt and pepper.  Toast or grill the bread pieces till they take on some color.  After you take the bones out of the oven, toss the salad with the dressing (lemon and olive oil).
  3. Serve two to three bones per person along with a few pieces of toast, a serving of parsley salad, a knife and a small bowl of salt.  Use the knife to take the marrow out of the bones and smear on the toast sprinkling a bit of the sea salt and topping with a bit of parsley salad.  Take a bite and have a food orgasm.  Serve with a thin and reasonably acidic red wine.

27 thoughts on “The Greatest Form of Flattery: Blatantly Copying Fergus Henderson’s Roasted Marrow Bones with Parsley Salad

  1. I havent had this type of dish formally.But know the appeal just by sucking on a bone in the privacy of my own home. The Latin supermarkets sell these bones for nothing!

  2. I can see why some would wonder what all the hype was about, but you just had me salivating over the keyboard too. I will have to grab some marrow bones on my next run to the butcher.

  3. If there’s bone marrow on the menu, I order it. If there’s no bone marrow to be had on my Osso Buco, I’m disappointed. Its just so good. So glad to read this post!

    1. delicious bones, i expect! there’s marrow in all bones, but the bigger the bone (as they say) the greater the pleasure, so shoot a good, big deer, because deer shins aren’t as thick as cows or calves, methinks. Not to mention that you’ll have plenty of other meat to make some venison sausages, stews, and perhaps best of all, venison bresaola!

  4. May I suggest that the very worthy Henderson Bone Marrow dish is not original in it’s essential taste combination (although I don’t doubt it might have been an original concept in his own mind). Osso Bucco has combined the classic, haunting taste of Veal Marrow and flat leaf parsley in the gremolata garnish (along with garlic and lemon zest) for generations. I ate it often as a child of an Italian mother, and was specifically guided as to the affinity between those particular components. Similarly, Escoffier spread many a croute with bone marrow for canape action. The notion that chefs or home cooks shouldn’t use such known combinations is absurd. What Ferguson did which was so clever and relevant was to evolve a taste combination into his own dish. We spend years building knowledge and learning what works best and to eliminate classic combinations would be ridiculous. A good chef should innovate from great foundations which is what Henderson did.

  5. Ant – thanks for the comment and visit: all valid points. I’m sure Fergus would be happy to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Escoffier, and again, would happily concede that, as in virtually every aspect of human life, everything he’s done has been done before by someone else. Indeed, one could quite easily level the same accusation at “innovators” like Ferran Adria, who in spite of using new and exciting techniques ends up creating dishes that are, at least partially, founded on flavors that we are all familiar with from elsewhere, and frequently from home-cooked meals. I think the point of Henderson’s take on this classic is that this kind of honest, tasty food is rarely served in the home anymore, nor can it often be found in restaurants where chefs are seeking to outdo each other with how clever and innovative they can be, and in doing so, he carved himself a niche by giving people exactly what they want without having to fuss overly with the reinvention bit.

  6. Neat. I will let you know how it turns out. By the way would you have or be able to direct me via link to an Osso Bucco recipe? I’d liek to try that with the neck and shoulders as suggested by a friend etc.

  7. Robert – please do let us know – we would be fascinated to know how deer osso bucco works out (and if you have any leftover venison, we do accept protein-based gifts!). We haven’t posted about osso bucco but if you search (rather than .com) you’ll find all manner of authentic recipes in Italian that you can translate using either google translator or Off the top of my head though, and this is a general game vs farmed meat rule, I would add a little more fat to your venison version to compensate for its lean-ness, and, make sure that you use enough stock so that it doesn’t dry out.

  8. Love this post, especially the first paragraph (so true!). Bone marrow is definitely one of life’s greatest pleasures. My (selfish) fear is that one of these days it will become mainstream and the price will go up considerably. Look what happened to monkfish, skirt steaks, pork belly, etc.

  9. Hola chicos! I always give this “parts” a chance and when I was a kid my mom used to cook for us little lamb brains (coated in flour and fried) I remember they were delicious! But since the Crazy cows disease (I’m unable to write the proper name), I don’t use marrow and brains in my kitchen… a pity… or not!

  10. Ok was easily won over on this one as it one of my favourites…..I should really try making it at home, you make it sound really rather straightforward.
    lovely pictures kids xx

  11. [nervously walking around in circles..]

    Are YOU serious!!!?? Are you FREAKIN” SERIOUS!?? You made bone marrows.. ON toasted bread.. WITH maldon sea salt!?? With a PARSLEY salad too!!?? ..I LOVE YOU!!! I FREAKIN” LOVE YOU!!!! BOTH OF YOU!!!

  12. One could record someone eating, slurping, sucking and enjoying bone marrow and the listener would think they were eavesdropping on a sexual act. They would be close!

  13. shameless embezzlement of peoples’ food is the best form of flattery.

    And yes. marrow bones are ass cheap. but SHHHHHH… don’t tell or else people will jack up the prices as in the case of short ribs or oxtail. sh….

  14. Reading this post and replys I feed like I found my REAL family! Usually when I tell people about recipes like this and JUST HOW MUCH I enjoy them and how my eyes get this magic shinyness when I eat something that fantastic …. they think I must be crazy. Thanks for showing me again that I am not the only fat-loving-weirdo on earth 🙂 (and by fat I mean the REAL stuff!)

  15. I tried this dish for the first time at Michael Symon’s restaurant Roast recently and I don’t recall the price being too outrageous. I did quite enjoy it but found that a little goes a long way since it is so rich! The parsley is definitely a welcome counterpoint.

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