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The Essence of the Cow

Tonight I braised a pair of beef shanks for dinner. A pair of dry-aged shanks from a humanely raised cow, to be specific. I used garlic, soy sauce, freshly ground ginger (a first for me), basil, salt, pepper, and water for the braise, and the zest and juice of a lemon to brighten things up a bit. I reduced the braising liquid afterwards to about a cup of intensely flavorful suace and finished it off with a few dashes of toasted sesame oil (WOW). The shanks were quite tasty, and the rice on the side (with several of the same flavors) complemented the meat very well.

The real star of the show, however, wasn't the meat, the rice, or the sauce. No, the real star was the bone marrow.

After having been seared on both sides and braised for an hour and a half at 225 F, the marrow was soft and gelatinous. I had only to run the tip of my knife around the inner rim of the bone to release the teaspoonful of protein-laden marrow. I tentatively scooped it up with my fork out of the sauce on the plate, and ingested. HOLY CRAP, IT'S LIKE MEAT JELLY...but in the best possible way. I'd seen Anthony Bourdain spread marrow on toast on an episode of No Reservations, and I understand why. Had I more at my disposal I'd have done the same. The flavor was like the most complex essence of beef, as if somebody had distilled all the best flavors from every cut of a cow and amped it up tenfold.

Next time I head to the butcher I'm going to ask more about marrow...I could totally make a dish out of it, like an appetizer or something.