Why we avoid it:
Osso buco literally translates as “bone’s hole,” and is simply an inch and a half slab of shank with tough meat surrounding a large bone with a hole in the middle. What’s inside that bone hole is the fatty, rich, spongy, bloody gelatinous marrow. Bone marrow is gristly and icky, and the texture can freak some people out.
Why we should eat it:
Fossil records indicate that early humans spent quite a bit of time and energy developing tools and strategies to get to the gooey insides of bone. Wild predators and even family dogs will go crazy over it. Clearly there’s something nutritionally special about bone marrow.
It’s an energy-rich mass of fat, protein and other nutrients. When you consider parts of a carcass that give you the best bang for your buck, marrow is definitely up there. Marrow’s role in the body is to make blood platelets and red and white blood cells. It also contains osteoblasts and osteoclasts, cells that can form or reabsorb bone, respectively. Marrow has the same calorie count as fat but has tons more nutrients. The type of fat is mostly unsaturated, unlike the fat on meat, which is saturated. Bone marrow also supplies some iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Nutrition aside, there’s another very important reason why animals (and humans) go wild over bone marrow: the taste. It has a subtle creamy nuttiness that is extremely rich. It takes on the taste of the herbs and spices used, and has the consistency of egg white. And even though marrow bones are served in gourmet restaurants, you can buy them pretty cheap. A simple way to prepare them is to roast the bones upright until the marrow begins to slightly bubble — about 15-20 minutes. Use a small spoon to scoop all the marrow out or put that bone in your mouth and suck it all in.
Yup, sucking on a bone may not look glamorous but there’s no way you should let a single morsel of marrow escape. If you’ve never tried it before, head out and get some bones and be ready to fight your pets over them.