This bone marrow and oxtail marmalade from the Blue Ribbon Brasserie is still one of the greatest restaurant dishes in New York City—even though it's been on the menu for 27 years. To this day, it's one of the best things Assistant Editor Erin Alexaner has ever eaten: rich, velvet-soft marrow scooped out and spread onto a thick, toasted slice of challah bread, topped with a meaty marmalade that's thick and sweet with a reduced-wine glaze.
This recipe, created by Bruce and Eric Bromberg (brothers, chefs, and co-owners of Blue Ribbon Restaurants), was partly inspired by the classic beef bourguignon the the brothers learned in culinary school in Paris; the oxtail is simmered and reduced for hours in a luscious sauce of wine and aromatics. They didn't discover the wonders of bone marrow, though, until they apprenticed at a restaurant, where it was the occasional staff meal.
Since putting the bone marrow and oxtail marmalade on the menu at Blue Ribbon Brasserie, it's become an iconic dish—pretty much over major chef over the last two decades has come in to try it. Admittedly, it's no simple feat to pull off: The bone marrow needs a few days in a salt water bath to remove any impurities, while the marmalade requires hours over the stove. Luckily, though, both parts of the recipe can be prepped in advance and the marmalade can be reheated before you want to serve. That way, all you need to do is toast some fluffy challah bread for serving and chop up a bit of parsley for garnish. —Food52
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is featured in the story, 27 Years Later, This Is Still One of NYC's Best Dishes, sponsored by Le Cordon Bleu. —The Editors
- Prep time 48 hours
- Cook time 6 hours 30 minutes
- Makes 6 servings
- For the marrow bones:
center-cut beef marrow bones, cut into 2-inch pieces, tendons trimmed (ask your butcher to do this)
kosher salt, plus more if needed
- For the oxtail marmalade:
oxtail, trimmed of fat
Port wine, divided
dry red wine
veal or chicken stock
garlic head, halved crosswise
bunch fresh thyme
(1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds
carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
shallots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons
kosher salt, plus more to taste
packed light brown sugar
red wine vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons
freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
slices challah bread, freshly toasted and still warm, cut into quarters
small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
fleur de sel (or other coarse sea salt)
- Prepare the marrow bones: Place marrow bones in a large bowl. Combine the salt with 4 cups cold water in a large measuring cup and pour over the bones. (If the water does not cover the bones, add a solution with a ratio of 1 cup water to 1 tablespoon salt, until the bones are covered.) Soak the bones in the refrigerator for 36 to 48 hours, changing the water three times, until the bones are bleached of color. Drain well.*
- Make the marmalade: Combine the oxtail, 3 cups Port, the red wine, veal stock, garlic, thyme, and peppercorns in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for three hours. Transfer the oxtail to a bowl; once the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and chill in the refrigerator; cut into small cubes. Discard the bones and refrigerate the meat until ready to use. (This can be made up to two days ahead.)
- Strain the oxtail liquid into a large skillet, discarding the solids. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture is reduced to 3 cups, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Combine 3 tablespoons butter with the flour until it forms a paste. Whisk the paste, one tablespoon at a time, into the reduced liquid over medium heat. Cook until the mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
- In a separate large skillet, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter. Add the carrots, shallots, and a pinch of salt over medium heat until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the sugars, remaining 3 cups Port, vinegar, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has completely evaporated, about 45 minutes. Stir in the oxtail meat, reduced oxtail cooking liquid, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper; taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Set aside until ready to use, or, if not using the same day, transfer the marmalade to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. (Before serving, reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until warmed through.)
- Cook the marrow bones: Place the bones in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat (do not let the water come to a boil or marrow will melt out of the bones). To test for doneness, place a thin metal knife in the center of the marrow and hold it under your lip to see if it’s hot. When hot, remove the bones from the water.
- To serve: Arrange the bones and challah toast on a platter. Spoon some of the oxtail marmalade in between the bones (reserve remaining marmalade for another use). Sprinkle the platter with the chopped parsley and coarse sea salt.
- *Chef’s note: If you don’t have time, you can skip soaking the bones; it doesn’t affect the flavor. It does change the presentation of the dish, because the marrow retains some blood and will end up pink rather than a bleached white color; taste-wise, however, it’s the same.