Several months ago, a number of our family went to Lola to celebrate. Chef de cuisine, Derek Clayton, aka Powder, started us off with an enormous pile of crispy bone marrow, with grilled bread and a variety of accompaniments. It was so good that when I had lunch there last month, I called ahead to request it (it’s not actually on the menu because it would be a complicated pickup on busy nights—they serve single pieces as a garnish on the prime rib).
This second time, able to focus on it during a calm lunch—the delicate crisp shell, the unctuous molten marrow inside and thin slice of crisp grilled baguette—we were able to experience the almost primal pleasure of eating pure rich hot bone marrow.
The pleasure was so great, I asked Powder if I could bring Donna down to photograph it and he said “sure” (as if he didn’t already have a million other things to do coming in after his day off and one man down). It’s one thing to wax about the pleasures of eating bone marrow that drips down your chin. Another to know how both to cook and to serve it.
Powder buys three-inch pieces of marrow bones. Ask your butcher for “pipe cut marrow bones” so that you can pop the marrow out. If you can’t find three-inch pieces, smaller ones will still work. He soaks the marrow in warm water to loosen them, then pops them out of the bone.
He then soaks them in a water salted to brine level (I would use three tablespoons of kosher salt per quart—1.5 ounces for 30 ounces of water if you have a scale) for a couple of days, refrigerated, to draw out as much blood as possible, changing the water several times.
To cook the marrow, roll them in flour till they’re completely coated and sauté them in canola oil over medium high heat (too hot and the flour will burn, too cool and the marrow will melt before the surface is crisp), turning them to brown them well on all sides. On the day Powder made the marrow (that’s him grilling the bread and plating), he poured out excess oil when they were nearly done and added some butter to finish them off. This is a chef I love: when preparing a rich, highly fatty dish, finish it off with just a liiiittle more butter. Fernand would have approved. And in all seriousness, the butter browns and makes the crust especially flavorful.
Remove them to a paper towel to drain, then arrange them on a platter with accompaniments. Powder’s is a great presentation (below) with salsa verde, flaky salt from Cyprus, lemon, torn parsley and pickled shallot. But that’s more than you’d need at home to serve this as an hors d’oeuvre. The key items are fresh lemon juice, any kind of crunchy salt, and some torn parsley. Serve it on something crisp.
“I think the grilled baguette makes the dish,” Powder said. “It evokes that roasted flavor that you normally expect when ordering marrow.” He’s right—and this way, you get those roasted notes, but you also get that very delicate crispy crunch, followed by the deep, satisfying molten ooze of the marrow.
Thanks, Powder. Hope you got all your braises in the oven in time.