Main course Recipes

Beef tenderloin with roasted marrow bones

April 29, 2014

Despite not eating a whole lot of red meat, I do sometimes get carnivorous cravings and just like everything else in my life, when I go in I go in BIG. I’m talking here about what I consider my caveman dinner, the one to satisfy our primal urges for blood, flesh and bones: rare top quality beef tenderloin with a big roasted marrow bone! A decadent meaty experience you won’t forget…

I have an undying love for marrow bones in all kinds of dishes and will almost always order them when they’re on the menu. They’re still to me at their best when simply roasted with a bit of salt (and a parsley salad on the side…divine!) and I strongly believe you haven’t truly lived until you’ve had roasted marrow bones, period!

I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but I believe this comes partly from ignorance (eww… bone fat!) and from lack of trying. Marrow bones are indeed mostly made of fat and a bit of protein but are extremely healthy for you, containing fat soluble vitamins, minerals, wholesome cholesterol and fat to keep you strong. We’ve been thriving on them for thousands of years, and I myself witnessed their high status during my travels in Africa where their nutritional level is, as you can imagine, praised. If you’ve never tried them, now is the time and this recipe is surprisingly easy to make at home.

I make it sounds like the bones are the main parts of this meal though let’s not overlook the gold standard of beef cuts – the tenderloin – here simply salted and seared to rare, finished with a nut of butter. The sauce is the perfect accompaniment of sweet and robust flavors which marry wonderfully well with the simply prepared beef. The whole thing is just a sumptuous and decadent dinner for the fancy caveman in you, and a showstopper to impress your guests if you prefer to eat your bones in good company. You can serve it with fries if you want though I opt only for some crusty bread to eat with the marrow and soak up all that delicious melted fat and blood mixture that will inevitably fill your plate…


Beef tenderloin with roasted marrow bones


Recipe for Filet the Boeuf “Joe Beef style” from The Art of Living according to Joe Beef
Active time: 1h15 min
Total time: 5h+
Serves 2-3

1 lb (455g) piece beef tenderloin, about 2½ inches (6cm) thick, untrimmed and tied
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Marrow bones
2 crosscut marrow bones, each about 4-5 inches high
2 tablespoons salt
Canola oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 sprig thyme

1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup ketchup
1 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
4 green onions, roughly chopped
2 anchovy fillets
3 whole cloves
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper


At least 4 hrs before:
When you get the marrow bones home, put them in a big bowl with water to cover and 2 tablespoons salt. They should sit refrigerated for a minimum of 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Take the tenderloin out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for a minimum of 3 hours.

Prepare the sauce:
In a small, thick-bottomed saucepan, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a slow simmer and simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. If it reduces excessively, add a bit of water. You’re looking for the texture of ketchup with chunks.

When it’s ready, remove from the heat and carefully buzz with a hand blender (if you don’t own one, pulse in a food processor). Let cool, transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate. It will keep for up to 1 month.

Prepare the tenderloin and marrow bones:
Preheat the over to 425ºF (220ºC).

In a cast-iron frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Season the tenderloin generously with the salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, place the tenderloin in the pan (always remember the splash risk and drop away from you). Lower the heat to medium-low, so there is just a slight sizzle, and cook the top side for 4 minutes, the bottom side for 4 minutes, and each of the other three sides for 4 minutes each, for five sides total at medium-rare.

While the tenderloin cooks, drain the bones and pat them dry. Put a large ovenproof pan over high heat. Pour in a thin film of canola oil, and add the garlic and the thyme. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the bones, marrow side down, and sear for 2 minutes. You are not looking for color, just a bit of heat penetration.

Flip the bones marrow side up and put the pan into the oven. Roast for 12 minutes. A knife should penetrate the marrow easily. Take the bones out of the oven.

When the tenderloin is done cooking, remove it to a plate, top with the butter, and let rest for 4 minutes before serving.

Serve with the marrow bones, the sauce, and some fries if you feel like it!

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  • Jura May 2, 2014 at 1:42 am

    That looks delicious and love the sound if the sauce too – intense! Really good idea to cut the bone lengthways too. I just had a great meal at Jason atherton’s little social which was ox cheek with bone marrow though they theatrically had the bone upright with just a knife to fish out the marrow. like the sound of yours better. Will have to try it at home.

    • Sandra May 11, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks! I’ve been meaning to try Little Social for a while now, ox cheek doesn’t sound too bad either! Cutting the bone lengthways is really the way to go, and most restaurants will serve it this way whenever there’s a topping that involves more than just a bit of salt…Feel I can never get all the marrow out when it sits upright!! Once you go the length route you’ll never want to go back. 😉