27 Years Later, This Is Still One of NYC's Best Dishes

How Blue Ribbon Brasserie's bone marrow and oxtail marmalade developed a cult following.

June 12, 2019

We've partnered with Le Cordon Bleu to celebrate classic techniques and time-honored dishes, and the many ways you can riff on them. Here, Chefs Bruce and Eric Bromberg of the Blue Ribbon Restaurants share the recipe for their iconic bone marrow and oxtail marmalade, which was partly inspired by the brothers' foundational training at culinary school.

I'll never forget the first time I went to the Blue Ribbon Brasserie, set off a quiet block where the West Village and SoHo meet in New York City. I was about 13, had just read Kitchen Confidential for the first time, and was obsessed with visiting as many of the best food spots in the city as I could during our long weekend stay. As we finished the dessert course of our first dinner in town, at a tiny restaurant in the East Village called Graffiti, the chef stopped by our table. Hoping to get the inside scoop, I asked him where he liked to eat when he wasn't working. His answer: Blue Ribbon.

My parents, never ones to turn down an expert recommendation, agreed to add it to our list. The next night, we stepped through the restaurant's thick red curtains into a cozy, candle-lit dining room and sat down to what would be an epic meal of steak tartare, oysters, fried chicken, duck breast over turnip puree, and—though my mom was a bit hesitant about it at first—the bone marrow with oxtail marmalade.

Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson.

To this day, it's one of the best things I've ever eaten: rich, softer-than-butter marrow carefully scooped out and spread onto a thick slice of toasted challah, topped with the meaty marmalade, thick and sweet with reduced wine. Even better, in the dozens of times I've returned to the Blue Ribbon over the years, it hasn't changed one bit—the dish is always just as perfect as the first time I tried it. Which is of course a credit to Bruce and Eric Bromberg, the chefs and owners behind the Brasserie and what has since become an empire of Blue Ribbon restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Miami.

A big part of their success, the brothers recently told me, has to do with their culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where they developed a strong technical foundation from the beginning. "It was really about the basics of French cooking," said Bruce, "there's no better education you could get." One of the classic French recipes the brothers mastered during their time at Le Cordon Blue was beef bourguignon, which I learned was part of the inspiration for their bone marrow and oxtail marmalade.

It all started with their first taste of bone marrow, which was served every couple of weeks as part of the staff meal at the restaurant where they apprenticed. "I just remember the first time it came out of the oven with some crusty bread," Bruce said, "and I ate it and was just like, 'Holy cow, this is literally the greatest thing I've ever had.'"

When coming up with dishes for Blue Ribbon (a not-so-subtle nod to their time at Le Cordon Bleu), they wanted to make the bone marrow a highlight, but also needed something on the plate to balance it out. "So we kinda just came up with this idea of combining these classic dishes, one which is one of the most classic dishes ever, beef bourguignon," Bruce explained. "We changed it to oxtail and sweetened it and decided to call it marmalade." The combination of the bone marrow and the marmalade, Eric said, is not only "fatty, salty, sweet, and tangy," but it's also "becomes a food that you just don't eat anywhere."

Since the Brasserie's opening in 1992, the bone marrow and marmalade has since developed something of a cult following. "Every notable chef for the last 20 however many years has come to Blue Ribbon and eaten that dish," Eric said, and it's a big part of the reason you can find bone marrow on menus at restaurants across the country today.

That being said, recreating this iconic recipe is no small feat. It requires at least two days of prep, and a few hours of cooking time to get the marmalade to just the right consistency and flavor. But it is worth the time and effort. If you're thinking of trying to make it at home, watch the brothers make the dish from scratch in the video above—their tips and techniques will definitely come in handy. And if you happen to be in New York, make sure to stop by the Brasserie to have it, I promise it'll be one of the best things (if not the best thing) you eat during your visit.

What's a classic dish you'll never stop making? Tell us in the comments below!

Whether you're a beginner cook or a professional chef, you must always start with the basics. In partnership with Le Cordon Bleu, an international network of cooking and hospitality schools, we're sharing classic recipes with an inspired twist, like Bruce and Eric Bromberg's bone marrow with oxtail marmalade. A riff on the beef bourguignon the brothers learned at Le Cordon Bleu, the dish has become a New York staple since it first appeared on the menu of their restaurant, Blue Ribbon Brasserie, in 1992.

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Erin Alexander is the Brand Partnerships Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

1 Comment

Gammy June 12, 2019
Ah, bone marrow, sigh! One of those foods I learned to love as a kid, along with chicken livers and oysters. We'd dig it out of whatever beef roast Mom was cooking and argue who got more. Unfortunately, I have never had the chance to dine at Blue Ribbon, but the combination of marrow and oxtail marmalade sounds heavenly! Blue Ribbon is now on my bucket list. Thank you Erin.