Is bone marrow the same thing as marrow bones?
September 2, 2016 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm making bone broth and this is confusing me....

I am trying to make bone broth and one of my purchases was a large bone, split in two by the butcher. I asked for a marrow bone. When he weighed it and wrapped it, I was shocked to find this single bone was $20! A bone. This is a Whole Foods in a big city so it figures....

But what I want to know is, for $20 did the butcher sell me:

A.) A bone


B.) a bone with the marrow still intact inside it?

I'm guessing the latter. And if it does have bone marrow inside of it, can I just plonk that into my crock pot or would it be a terrible waste? I *am* looking to make my broth really nutrient rich and flavorful so I'm happy to add in the bone with the marrow still intact if that's an actual thing.

But I want to make sure that it's SAFE to slow cook the marrow in the crock pot and also not a crazy waste of money to prepare it that way if it is actually meant to be eaten roasted, and then scooped out of the bone?

Some of the fancy culinary blogs I've looked act like marrow is God's gift and needs to be prepared that way, otherwise you messed it up and you're the jerk who put $20 dollars worth of marrow into a plug in pot with some dusty carrots and old bones.
posted by ChickenBear to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is the bone hollow? If not, what's in the middle that isn't bone is marrow. There's no reason it wouldn't be safe to chuck the marrow into a slow-cooker, but if you *like* marrow, it would be a bit of a waste. (I think it's delicious, and would roast and eat it and *then* use the bone in stock.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:35 AM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

You did probably waste more money than you needed to make bone broth. Technically your making more of a stock than a broth (since im assuming its mostly bones and less meat). That said, its totally safe and will turn out just fine.

Marrow is inside the bone (this is the reason the bone you bought was split, for easy access once roasted). Its mostly fat and has intense flavor - these two things are essential to most cheffy obsessions (see, for example: bacon, uni, caviar, eggs).

Sadly, living in a big city makes finding cheap bones tough - if you look online everyone is like "ask your butcher, they will practically be giving them away" and its just not been my experience. In NYC Dickson's farmstand meats is my go-to for broth/stock sourcing but even they don't always have them for sale (and why would they when they can take waste bones and boil them down for $15 dollar a quart broth).

You aren't a jerk and you haven't messed anything up - the bones will add flavor and nutrients while the marrow (and connective tissues and pieces of meat stuck to your other bones) will add flavor and mouth feel from the non-bone tissues and fats. A good stock should have a mix of bones, connective tissues, and meats for optimal (well rounded) flavor and feel. but really, you cant go too far astray no matter what you do.

On preview - another totally valid strategy here would be to roast the marrow bones (brush with oil and salt and pepper and throw em under the broiler until well browned on the cut side) eat the marrow with some crusty bread and THEN take the leftover bones and toss em in the crock pot. Even without the marrow in the picture sometimes it is nice to brown your bones first, gives a darker color and more complex flavor to the end product.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:38 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Bone marrow will add flavour, but mostly make your broth greasy, since it's primarily fat, rather than adding large amounts of collagen/gelatine which is what makes broth thick. It's not wasted by including it, but you could roast it and eat it and then use the bones for your broth and still get much of the benefit, plus all that tasty marrow.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:40 AM on September 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Just plonk it in, assuming that your split bones have a stripe of brown/red down them. Roasted marrow is a hip thing, so WF is just profiting off that as a "ready to roast" product. You could go to any other butcher who will sell you beef shank bones and have them cut them, cut them yourself, or just plonk them in whole and it would be the same.
posted by rhizome at 10:08 AM on September 2, 2016

Yes, it is safe to make that broth in a slow cooker. It will be kind of greasy, and you'll need to skim it a bunch. Safe yes, economical or particularly tasty...meh, not really. Slow cookers don't make the best broth, and if you don't have the time to make a huge batch of broth here and there, you should totally spend some bucks and get a halfway decent pressure cooker. They're the best. You can make that broth in an hour if you want.

I 2nd Exceptional_Hubris; Roast the bones take the resulting marrow. Spread it over some nice bread, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and FREAK OUT because it's fantastic. Then make your bone broth.

And in the future, swing on down to your local asian market, and get bones there. My local market has really awesome beef, and they have tons of cuts that even whole foods doesn't really roll with. The bones are important to broth, but honestly, so is the meaty parts. Neck bones and knuckles with some meat still on them impart a ton of collagen to broth, and make it so unctuous its kind of a problem. When I'm sick, or when its cold just crushing a mug of collagen laden broth of any stripe is pretty awesome. The problem at whole foods is that they price on trend: "bone broths" are trendy right now, hence the cheapest part of the cow is now expensive. This happened with oxtail a few years ago; used to be a bargain cut. Now it's ultra expensive. The asian market gives none fucks about trends, and bone-parts are usually ultra cheap. The last time I made beef broth, it only cost me $2-3 bucks a pound.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:09 AM on September 2, 2016 [10 favorites]

Marrow bones are trendy right now, so no, butchers aren't just 'giving them away'. Roasting is the best way to maximize the flavor. Plus, they just add fat and not much collagen, so I wouldn't use them in a broth or stock (unless you use the roasted bones AFTER you eat the marrow).

If you want a thickener, use chicken feet, pig feet, or beef tripe to add collagen to the broth.
posted by ananci at 8:54 PM on September 2, 2016

I get stock bones from Whole Foods for ~$5. Bottom shelf near the dog food. You got ripped. But yes, go to asian markets or halal butchers.
posted by fritillary at 10:09 PM on September 2, 2016

+1 furnace.heart and Exceptional_Hubris.

You got a marrow bone, and you got really, really ripped off. Even in New York, "New York Mart" on the corner of Mott and Hester (Grand?) sells femurs for $1/lb. For safety reasons, the butcher will only slice the bones perpendicular to the axis, not along the length, but you can still get all the marrow out.

Also, make broth with feet, not marrow bones. The connective tissue is what gives it flavor. If you have an ovenproof stock pot (e.g., a dutch oven), you can roast them in the pot and not lose any of the browny bits or the rendered fat.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:03 AM on September 3, 2016

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