There's a lot more going on in Bones
than the glorification of beef marrow. True, you will want to serve roasted marrow bones after even a casual reading. Jennifer McLagan, chef, food stylist, food writer, and now cookbook author says this is where it all began for her, this journey that has become a singular determination to rehabilitate bones in the family kitchen: "Scooping out the soft, warm marrow and spreading it on crisp toast is a sensual delight. A touch of salt, and all is right with the world."
Bones is about meat on the bone, plain and simple. Beef or veal, lamb, game, poultry, fish--it matters not. If the meat is on the bone as it enters the cooking process, be that roasting, braising, steaming, baking, or grilling, it has every chance of being far superior to meat divorced of the skeleton. Think how boring skinless, boneless chicken breasts can be. But McLagan's underlying theme is about taking time to treat a product like meat with the respect it deserves. If you demand that it morphs into some sort of time-and-labor-saving protein package you end up with chicken fingers, not food. If it is about anything, Bones is about good food, and good food takes time. And time is the most precious ingredient any cook can add to the broth. The time it takes isn't a burden, it's where the cook truly learns and grows and matures.
McLagan divides Bones into sections devoted to Beef and Veal, Pork, Lamb, Poultry, Fish, and Game. Each section begins with a precise description of the basic animal from the skeleton on out before moving on to stocks, concentrated stocks, and consommés. As for recipe enticements you'll find Beer-Glazed Beef Ribs, Osso Buco with Fennel and Blood Orange Sauce, Spicy Korean Pork Soup, Roast Leg of Pork with Crackling, Olive-Crusted Lamb Racks, Lamb Shanks in Pomegranate Sauce, Poached Chicken with Seasonal Vegetables, Grilled Quail with Sage Butter, Coconut Curry Chicken, Sardines on Toast, Cantonese-style Steamed Fish, and Herb-Roasted Rabbit (one of four rabbit recipes!).
While the novice cook should not shy away from Bones, a firm foundation in basic western cooking technique is a plus. There's a lot of learning available between these two covers. Some of it is about meat and bones, some about cooking and serving, and some is about an attitude to bring to the kitchen: If you take a little time the rewards will be far superior to any shortcuts along the way. All of which makes Jennifer McLagan something of a revolutionary in our midst. --Schuyler Ingle
JENNIFER McLAGAN has over 35 years’ experience in the food business as a chef, caterer, food stylist, recipe writer and cookbook author. She has been a presenter at the highly prestigious Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival MasterClass Series in Australia and the Epicurean Classic in Michigan. She is a regular contributor to Fine Cooking, Food & Drink, The County Grapevine and The Niagara Grapevine magazines. Her books Fat and Bones have garnered top prizes in the food writing world, with Fat winning the James Beard Cookbook of the Year award. Visit her online at www.jennifermclagan.com.