Elk Marrow Butter with Juniper Berries

A hunter's summer appetizer

I have had the opportunity to successfully hunt elk, and I have to say it was one of those memorable hunts that will be etched in my memory. I was so fortunate to have a freezer full of elk meat, and I wanted to utilize as much as possible. One part that all hunters should consider keeping is the bones. I use them for soup stock, Vietnamese pho, stews, baked marrow and marrow butter. Ask your butcher to cut them length wise, as it is easier to scrape out the marrow with a spoon.

Elk Marrow Butter with Juniper Berries

Bone marrow not only boasts a heavenly taste, but also offers various health benefits. It contains a substantial amount of good fats and energy. It is also a good source of proteins, with 100 grams of bone marrow providing 6.7 grams of proteins. All in all, bone marrow is a nutrient-rich food and can rev up any meal.

This bone marrow recipe can be used in a few applications. Once you have prepared it, spreading it on a piece of crusty bread is heavenly, but you can also use it as a melted butter for steamed vegetables or roasted baby potatoes. I have also added it to homemade ravioli, into the filling with butternut squash. You can add it to breadcrumbs with a bit of horse radish, lemon and parsley to create a gremolata. Marrow butter freezes very well. It is very versatile, and I am excited to share this recipe with you.

I always try and add an ingredient from the wilderness when I am preparing wild game. In this recipe, I have added crushed juniper berries. A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers. It is not a true berry, but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which gives it a berry-like appearance. It has many health benefits, and many uses. The juniper berry is said to promote heart health, has been used as an antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.

Elk Marrow Butter With Juniper Berries

Ingredients

  • 6-8 elk marrow bones, cut length wise
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cracked pepper, to taste
  • 5 juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 baguette, sliced

Method

The day before you create your marrow butter, fill a container with cold water and add your marrow bones. Allow them to soak, changing out the water a few times. This application allows you to cleanse the bone of impurities, such as bone dust and blood.

Take the bones out of the water and pat dry with paper towel. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your bones on it. You may have to crunch up some tinfoil and prop some of the bones up, as they sometimes lay sideways.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over the bone marrow.

Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the marrow is a golden brown. The marrow will be bubbling, so allow them to cool before touching.

Using a pestle and mortar, add the garlic, parsley, juniper berries and a drizzle of olive oil. Crush the ingredients, creating a paste. If you do not have a pestle, you can use a bowl and the back side of a metal spoon. Add the soft butter and blend well.

Once your bones are cool enough to handle, scrape the marrow into a bowl. Using an exceptionally fine sieve and a spatula, begin smearing the marrow through the sieve. Take a clean spoon and scrape the marrow off the bottom into a bowl. The best sieve to use is called a tammy sieve. The idea is to leave behind the impurities and be left with a silky smooth, clean marrow butter.

Add the butter mixture to your bone marrow and blend well. Transfer into a nice serving dish with a butter knife and place baguette slices around it. You can also butter the baguette slices and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!