Dish of the day: roast bone marrow and parsley salad

Fergus Henderson of St John gives us his recipe for bone marrow salad...

FEW weeks before St John opened, I went to the movies to watch Le Grande Bouffe, a film in which a group of gentleman try to eat themselves to death (and succeed). After the completion of their first course, they celebrate by sucking on roast beef bones. This was the dish for me. The idea for the parsley salad came to me when I was working at a dodgy nightclub where Rowley Leigh, who runs Le CafĂ© Anglais, would come in after service. One night, he requested a green salad. The only leaves I had were parsley, so I made it with that. I came across the white, wet, grey sea salt in Paris. I added toast, and our signature dish was born. This dish requires participation of the eater. The waiter will give you a spoonful of salt for you to add yourself – the rich bone marrow is improved by the crunch of coarse salt. People seem to enjoy the hands-on nature of this dish. They like the little rough and tumble with the bones.

*****

Roast bone marrow and parsley salad

Serves 4
* 12 x 7-8cm pieces of middle veal
* Marrowbone
* Healthy bunch of flat parsley, picked from its stems
* 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
* 1 modest handful of capers (extra-fine if possible)

Dressing
* Juice of one lemon
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* A pinch of sea salt and pepper
* A good supply of toast
* coarse sea salt

Put the bone marrow in an ovenproof frying pan and place in a hot oven. The roasting process should take about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the bone. You are looking for the marrow to be loose and giving, but not melted away, which it will do if left too long (traditionally the ends would be covered to prevent any seepage, but I like the colouring and crispness at the end).

Meanwhile, lightly chop your parsley, just enough to discipline it, mix it with the shallots and capers, and, at the last moment, dress.

This is a dish that should not be completely seasoned before leaving the kitchen, rendering a last-minute seasoning necessary by the actual eater; this, especially in the case of coarse sea salt, gives texture and uplift at the moment of eating. My approach is to scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt. Then put a pinch of parsley salad on top of this and eat.