My wife and I recently celebrated the birth of twin boys, Lachlan and Logan, and it just reminds me what a joy it is to be a dad. I guess all of us in the Kitchin house are adjusting to being a large family but it is very precious seeing our two older boys interacting with their new baby brothers. Although slightly chaotic at times, it is just lovely having two babies in the house and my wife and I feel blessed.
As much as I adore our four boys, being a father is not always an easy task. I joke about going to work for a rest, but it does make me appreciate and admire any man or woman juggling parenthood with daily chores and work duties whilst having a young family. I am very close to my own parents and as a father I look up to my own dad. I have great respect and admiration for him, and I can’t see a better reason than Father’s Day to make a meal and something special for my dad and the rest of the family. I admit that I secretly look forward to the day when our boys can prepare me a meal for Father’s Day and I can be the one to sit back and relax. This year, however, we’re gathering the family at the house and will all help to prepare a feast.
One of my favourite foods is bone marrow, which I think is a really hearty dish for dads – one that harks back to those traditional methods of cooking, using every part of the produce and enjoying rich succulent flavours. Many cultures have used bone marrow as food throughout history. It’s also a key ingredient in a number of dishes, including the Italian ossobuco (braised veal shanks) and the French favourite pot-au-feu (a flavoursome broth eaten with bone marrow on toasted bread and sprinkled with sea salt).
Today, bone marrow is seen as quite a foodie ingredient, but it really shouldn’t be. I wish more people would try it. Roasted bone marrow is one of my absolute favourite dishes. For some, the thought of eating it doesn’t appeal, but if you have never tried it you’re really missing out – as well as being flavoursome, it’s also very nutritious.
Bone marrow is also relatively inexpensive, so it’s perfect if you’re feeding the whole family. It can be served very simply and is fairly easy to prepare, despite what people might think – it is superb cooked with shallots and parsley and served with freshly toasted bread. I think it’s one of life’s great pleasures and am sure there are many dads out there who would agree with me.
One thing that you should be careful about when preparing bone marrow is to make sure you don’t overcook it, otherwise it will simply melt away to nothing. Another good thing about this dish is that it’s perfect for sharing. You can place a big serving board full of the bone marrow on the table so that everyone can gather round and help themselves. My only advice would be just make sure the dads get the biggest share.
Roasted bone marrow
1 kg bone marrow
cracked black pepper
6 shallot rings, sliced
200g flat-leaf parsley
1 baguette, cut and toasted
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Sprinkle the bone marrow with salt and cracked black pepper, then place in the oven and roast for eight to ten minutes, until cooked.
Once cooked, place the bone marrow on a serving dish, cover with sliced shallots and parsley and serve with toast.
Bone Marrow and crispy ox tongue
For the ox tongue
1 whole ox tongue
1 white onion
1 garlic clove
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
4 large potatoes
200g bone marrow
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 sprig thyme
salt to season
200g button mushrooms
1 tsp parsley, chopped
100g shallots, chopped
dash sherry vinegar
For the ox tongue
Place the ox tongue in a large pan and cover with cold water to get rid of any impurities. Bring to the boil and discard the water. Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil.
Add the mirepoix vegetables (carrots, onion and leeks, all roughly chopped). Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and leave to simmer and cook for three to three and a half hours.
Like with any braised meat, a good way to check that it is cooked is to take a roasting fork and push it into the meat – if you hold the fork up, the meat should easily fall off it and back into the stock. Once cooked, peel off the coarse skin of the ox tongue.
Place the stock aside for later. Leave the ox tongue to chill and then cut into cubes.
For the bone marrow
Peel the potatoes and with a serrated knife carve each into a cylinder shape, resembling bone marrow. With a baller, create a well in each potato.
Heat a pan of duck fat and place the carved potatoes in carefully, simmering until cooked. Remove the potato and leave to drain. Then place the potatoes in a dry frying pan and cook until golden.
Bring another pan of water to the boil and add the bone marrow, one of the cloves of chopped garlic, a sprig of thyme and salt to season, then poach until soft. Once done, remove the bone marrow from the pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, sautée the ox tongue in a frying pan for three to four minutes, until crispy. Add the button mushrooms and cook for a further one or two minutes. Add the other clove of chopped garlic and a teaspoon of chopped parsley.
Chop the bone marrow and season with chopped shallots, chopped parsley and a dash of sherry vinegar.
Place the bone-marrow and ox tongue inside each potato and serve.