Oscars: “Winter’s Bone Marrow” on “True Grits” (Roasted Marrow over Baked Cheese Grits)

This dish is about as decadent as a Marchesa gown. It is pretty much a fat fest. And it is out of this world – far and away my pick for “Best Oscar Dish.”

Both of these movies lent themselves very easily to puns. However, I only had the idea of putting the dishes together at the last second. I made the grits in advance and then realized they’d get cold and hard in the fridge, so I thought, why not slice and fry them like one would polenta? I was looking for something to put the marrow on top of and I was too lazy to buy crackers so…bingo!

I know marrow is not for everyone, but it has really homey associations for me. When I was growing up my dad and I would hover around the kitchen anytime my mom made beef stock-based soup. We’d all take the soup bones, pop out the stock-poached marrow, and eat it on saltines. The creamy fattiness of the marrow, which usually took on great flavor from the stock mirepoix, is amazing when paired with the salty crunchiness of the crackers. I also think this was kind of my “gateway specialty cut.” Marrow was the first thing that got me thinking, maybe I don’t just have to eat muscle – I bet other parts of the animal taste good, and we shouldn’t let them go to waste…

Cheese grits and marrow are a little more complex – amazing, but in a different way. Also amazing in a heart attack-inducing way. Definitely a once-a-year dish. But so worth it.

Roasted Marrow Bones

Take bones cut to 3- or 4-inch lengths and stand them on end on a foiled baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees until the marrow starts to pull away from the side of the bone, but before it starts melting and seeping out the bottom. Poke the marrow out with a knife and serve on toast with salt, lemon, and parsley.

Polenta-Fried Baked Cheese Grits (Adapted from Southern Living)
5 c. chicken broth (I used veggie broth to accommodate vegetarians)
1 1/4 c. quick-cooking grits
8 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the grits in the broth according to package directions.
2. Mix the cream, cheese, hot sauce, and pepper in until the cheese is melted, keeping the pot over very, very low heat if necessary. Remove from heat and blend in the eggs.
3. Pour the grits into a greased 2-quart casserole and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown on top.
4. Serve hot. Or, to fry them up polenta style, wait until cool, store overnight in the refrigerator, then cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and fry in a lightly oiled non-stick pan until golden brown on both sides.