Posts Tagged ‘bone marrow’

Bone Marrow, Turnip and Staghorn Sumac Pizza


Winter is a great crisp season with plenty of cabin time to contemplate exactly what makes a fabulous pie. Gone are the playful distractions of summer and the bounty of all the great produce from farms around these parts. These cold months used to be the leanest times in the days of old as foods were either pulled from pickling jars in root cellars or fermented to lengthen the lifespan. These days, it seems that everything is so readily available as long as those giant fossil-fuel, tractor-trailers keep loading up our mega stores with foods from all over the world.

Convenience is the hallmark word of todays food system where terms like ‘Conventional’ has replaced ‘sprayed’ and “local” is relegated to tags referring to a distribution hub, not a field. (That’s you Kroger!)

I’ve decided to embrace three of the foods I’ve found outside in the these winter days of southeast Ohio; The Staghorn Sumac and a frozen Italian flat-leaf parsley plant along with some crisp radishes that my friend and teacher Keith Mcartney grew with his class at Federal Hocking High School. I’ve incorporated all three into a pizza with roasted bone marrow, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Teleggio.

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I started with the Staghorn Sumac as a tea. The sumac I collected was from atop a mountain in a forest in Vinton county right over where we saw some nice logs of bobcat scat. It was perfectly dried from the strong winds.

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After rinsing the sumac thoroughly, I reduced it  in a pot of boiling water brought to a simmer until the liquid looked dark and tasted like a sumac tea. I then strained the sumac and reduced the liquid by half. Then I added sugar and local honey to taste and reduced further for a wonderful balsamic like glaze, (above). This sumac glaze had a wonderful cranberry-pink lemonaide flavor with hints of raspberry and was very easy to make.

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Now I wanted to use a frozen parsley plant that was lingering in my garden.

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So I just yanked that baby up and went right after the “artichokes” that were growing off the hearty root bottom. These were crisp and tender.

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After cutting and cleaning these artichoke-like buds, I quickly heated a brine of apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, cumin seed, mustard seed, black peppercorn and celery seed with a little local Cantrell honey then poured it over the chokes and let them steep until they were pickled and ultra tender. I then refrigerated them

I then sliced the turnip thinly in discs and sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with a thin seasoning of salt and white pepper until tender.

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I took the marrow bones and placed in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for only about 12 minutes until the marrow was just loosened up. (Remember, this will cook on a pizza later.) Letting the marrow cool, I then coaxed it out with my finger and sliced for topping.

So now I was ready to make my pie.

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I first made sure my oven was at or above 600 degrees then topped my disc with the Parmigiano and the turnip discs.

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Then I topped with teleggio followed by the sliced bone marrow.

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I  stoked the this baby in the oven until nice, golden brown and crisp then I added Japanese-mandolin-sliced rasishes, the pickled parsley root artichokes and a nice swirl of the Staghorn Sumac glaze.


This pizza has it all for a great winter adjective chowfest! The creamy Teleggio melted in with the beefy marrow and meaty turnip followed by the lingering Parmigiano umami, the crunch of the radish and sweet and sour welcome of my wild friends of winter.




Dem Bones

I am about to make my greatest pizza with meat from a cow’s tail and bone marrow. Like a great loaf of bread, oxtail is a labor of love that can only be perfected with patience, observation and a keen sense of mercy. That is, letting the lusciously fatty, greasy and savory strands of protein braise in juices that don’t overpower their natural flavor.


This pizza is like alot of the best pies you’ll ever make or taste: Time consuming in its preparation, simple in its bake, rewarding in its taste. Take a bite and enjoy velvety and sharp gruyere, meaty oxtail, crunchy-sweet cippolini onions and marrow, extracted from large round femur bones.

It was procuring dem bones that turned out to be the biggest challenge of this pizza. Not cooking them, but getting past cultural stigmas and nasty but (in hindsight) laughable customer service thrown at me by a jerk at the meat counter.

I had rushed to the large chain grocery store to  buy the bones.

“Excuse me sir,” I said as I craned my head over the butcher counter.

“Yup.” A young man in his 20’s tilted his head. His acting skills betrayed him total distain for the middle-aged clod before him.

“Do you have femur bones?”


“Do you have any large bones?”


“Maybe like in yes, or maybe, like in no?” I asked.

“Got dog bones.”

“Are they from cows, or like rawhide?” I continued.

“Rawhide is from cows too,” he muttered triumphantly.

“Yes, I agree, but I asked for bones.”

“Rawhide bones is in isle 18.” He said and turned away.

“Hey, Excuse me,” I said, beckoning him back again. This time more forceful. I was now reenacting the same uphill battle I had weeks before when I asked the seafood guy if I could smell the fish. He refused, saying I’d have to buy it first. I finally convinced him to put it 2 feet in front of my nose. It stank.

“May I see the dog bones you have?”

“They ain’t packaged yet.” He turned to let as much air as possible separate him from me.

“Can you go back there and grab one for me and bring it here and show me?” I asked, really loud now.


This is bone marrow that has been sitting in a salty brine for 2 hours and frequently refreshed. It just popped out and all the impurities and blood were pulled out by the water. This you can dredge in flour and saute if you have a light touch and don’t over cook. (It’ll turn to mush) I prefer to roast the marrow in the bone because my dog likes the bones roasted after I take the marrow.

He looked over his shoulder, shook his head and went in the back. I waited as he returned with a femur bone that had a big tapered end like a vase. It was the end of the femur, and did contain some marrow, but because the huge flared end had a thin layer of bone protecting the marrow, it would be hard to get the marrow out in one cylindrical chunk.

“O.K., this is close to what I’m looking for,” I said.  “Only do you have four or five that look more like a pipe than this one?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” He stared at me, scowling. I reverted to my mindset from years of living in Boston.

“Listen man, here’s the deal. If you help me out, I’ll stop acting like a stupid customer with a special request and go away. If you continue to be a jerk about this, I’m gonna find a manager to help me out.” I waited for an escalation, just a nuance of a negative response before completely unloading on this guy who should not be serving customers. None came.

He turned and went into the back for what seemed like 10 minutes (of course he took his time) and returned with four fairly large femur (dog) bones wrapped in plastic. As if to taunt me, all four were pipe bones but just  flared enough to be a hassle getting a chunk out. He slid the package labled “Dog Bones” onto the fancy glass case.

“Thanks for all your tremedous efforts, my kind sir,” I responded. Then I took a chance. “Do you know what I’m gonna do with these?” I asked with enough distain for him to retell our interaction to his co-workers.

He nodded, a scowling but restrained “no.”

“Eat the marrow out of them.”

“Yum.,” he muttered, with an unmistakable nuance of  “I hope you die.”

“Damn blog,” I thought. Then I turned to make my oxtail pizza.

Yesterday morning, I finally saw my doctor because of an incessant pain in my foot that had been nagging me for weeks. He uttered the term “I’ve got some bad news.” My foot had been broken for a some time,  the result of heavy usage and strain, a real stress fracture. Now I am trying to sit on my ass but will attempt the oxtail pie in the morning.

I dream of marrow seeping out of my foot as it sits in a plastic-wrapped tray marked “Dog Bones.” No biggie, just par for the course of the Pizza Goon.