October 18, 2006

bone marrow and broccoli... just a little weekday tinkering

moelle desséchée
poached broccoli stem, crème fraiche, pugliese toast, bitter microgreens, cornichons, mustard

cuisse rôtie de poulet
broccoli puree, pecorino romano “snow”, dried yuzu, thyme, balsamic pan jus

2005 copain l'hiver

We had a reservation to check out Bourbon and Branch today, but the timing ultimately didn't work out too well. As I disappointedly cancelled the reservation, I was hit by a small twinge of inspiration... We had some broccoli and chicken thigh waiting in the fridge, along with some beef bones for marrow. What kind of a quick and easy meal could be made of these components?

We had a transcendent meal at Coi a couple of months ago, and one of the most memorable dishes was a small lobe of crispy seared bone marrow served with caviar and fleur de sel. The biggest question was how to duplicate the crisp exterior. We soaked the bone marrow for a couple of hours to remove some of the blood, then roasted it in the oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. Scooped out the warmed, just-melting marrow and dusted it with corn starch before pan-searing it in a bit of browned butter. We plated the two resulting portions with a tiny dab of creme fraiche for parallel richness; mustard, chili oil, bitter microgreens, and cornichons to contrast and cut through the decadence; toasted pugliese for a neutral-flavored textural contrast; and hollowed poached broccoli stems to visually mimic the bones while adding a distinct vegetable element to a fundamentally meaty dish.

I've wondered about using broccoli as a puree. The thigh was deboned, since the dark meat is juicy enough to roast without it. The dried yuzu flakes (from Japan... thanks to Melissa, our official purveyor of interesting citrus) lended a subtle brightness to the dark meat, while the thyme accentuated the depth of flavor with its earthiness. The p.r. "snow" served to bind these somewhat divergent elements, aided by the light balsamic-tinged pan jus. Ultimately, the puree made the dish a bit imbalanced, with Lav noting that she expected much more intrinsic sweetness from the broccoli. Somehow, I feel like there is more that can be done with the broccoli puree... I just need to figure out how to better exploit that flavor.

These were some pretty rich dishes, so we opted to pair everything with a bottle of 2005 Copain l'Hiver. The "Saisons des Vins" series -- the second label from Wells Guthrie at Copain -- never lets you down. The l'Hiver, a rich and full-bodied syrah, was packed with densly extracted plum, accented by white pepper and a hint of smoky tobacco. Super inky; our teeth were stained after half a glass. Not as much acidity as I had expected, but the strength of the fruit still managed to contrast sufficiently against the decadence of the dishes.

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  1. Eeeew - interesting. I've never heard of the bone marrow delicacy. But I guess we only have to look as far back as our own fathers and mothers who sucked the marrow right out of the bones after finishing off the meat and declaring how "good for you" it is!

  2. I remember the first time I tried roasted bone marrow at a restaurant called 42 Degrees in S.F. (sadly, no longer in operation). The concept seemed a little gnarly, but after the first taste, I was hooked. Definitely not a healthy splurge (pretty fatty stuff), but incredibly rich and decadent... plus, it's always nice to use all parts of the animal -- avoid waste, just like our parents!