Monday, December 13, 2010

Bone Magic

"Are we having chicken Mum?" he asked eagerly. "On the bone??" Hopeful eyes sparkled and I laughed, "Yes, my love--on the bone." "Yippee!" he hollered, dancing out through the dining room, off to give the good news to his brothers. He's nine. Sweet still. Blue eyes and a contagious belly laugh and when he hugs you--he really hugs you. Amazing actually, at such a tender age he has learned one of life's luscious lessons.....meat on the bone, is the best.
The snow is drifting past the window, dancing in an endless holiday tango. The last wisps of incense mingling with the scent of pine....the evening aglitter with tinsel and lights. Dinner was seared and then roasted slowly, the nobs of garlic permeating all before relinquishing their firmness, melting into decadent paste. Rosemary infused, wine and butter and onions caressed the meat, tender....succulent.
I shudder a bit at the packaged meat shelves in the market. I'm blessed to have an amazing butcher close to home--one of the few with hanging sides of beef and daily delivery from organic and local producers. He supplies me with rabbits and lamb and cuts my delmonico steaks two and a half inches thick while I watch. He saves bones for me...filled with buttery marrow, ready to roast and simmer. It's these bones which awakened me to the lost magic of marrow. The creamy center which once pulsed with movement and blood....the essence of life.
Plastic trays of skinless, boneless strips of meat break my heart. Their sterility frightens me. In the name of convenience and cleanliness, we've chosen ease over decadence. Our homes sport kitchens the size of rec rooms with appliances gleaming.....and yet the demand for "take home" Bosten Market, Eat-n-Park, "Applebees on the go" is soaring. "Get that home cooked taste with no effort at all!" Shame on us. When did effort hurt? When did labor become laborious?
I'm trying to teach my children this. Within the snow globe that is a child's world, little else provides such an immediate return on investment. Yes, they save up allowance for prized possessions and they endure our new puppy's craziness, hoping for a calmer companion in the future that won't chew their gloves and eat legos. However, they come running when the clang of pans and pots rings out. 'What are you making Mum? Can I help? Can I watch?" The anticipation is almost tangible as they help roll meatballs and pour in the plum tomatoes, using the masher to break them up. They tear off to play, but return every hour or so to see how high the bread has risen and beg to taste the sauce.
And they cheer when it's meat on the bone.
Perhaps it's the primal urge to tear with our teeth? Sucking and nibbling as we lick our lips and smile sheepishly at one another. Fingers seeking out flesh, sliding along the bones, tearing and pulling and finding deliciousness. Dipping cartilage back into the sauce, tongues catching the drops of liquid ambrosia. I love the sounds of savory satisfaction; giggles and grins and slurping. The boys often play rock-paper-scissors for the last piece, makes me smile every time.
I don't cook every day. The leftovers from today's pistachio crusted rack of venison is going to make a smashing stew tomorrow. Wednesday is pizza night as I've got a painting to finish. And this last weekend, preparing for our holiday bash--you'd better believe my husband took the crew out for Arby's while I was mulling wine and making crab dip. Life is absolutely about balance. We all juggle and spin, attempting to keep eleventeen things up in the air at once. But within that balance, when there is room and time....skip the instant. Brown the chicken quarters till golden, nestle them in the dutch oven with sliced potatoes and onions and sausages and sage. Roast slowly for two hours....
Trust me, it's worth it.


~ Lyndsay The Kitchen Witch said...

Oh how I love your writing Chantal :-)

And it's so funny - I had a similar thought this morning while making meatballs for my slow cooker. Every recipe out there requires pre-made, pre-cooked packaged meatballs which, quite frankly, make me a little squeamish. I made my own with beautiful fresh ground beef. I too get all my meat at the butcher, preferring to buy from local farmers who treated the animals well before they made the sacrifice to be on my plate.

You and I think so much alike - I'll take my small kitchen any day in this bigger is better throw away society.

Now, when can I come for dinner? The venison has me salivating.

Out on the prairie said...

I buy a lot of 4-H projects such as rabbits, lamb and pork.I like a custom butchers and go to different shops around my state.I used to get great amounts of bones and brown and bake them to make stock.It is the only way to make french onion soup.I had my kids always helping in the kitchen, and they turned into some good cooks.I laughed at my youngest offering her version of a dish, because according to Martha you do it this way. She had been watching regularly while I was at work.

Mom et al said...

Just last night I was explaining to my five year old how our fish on Christmas Eve takes three days to prepare. It is a dying art, our Italian fish dinner. I know it's not the same as meat on the bone, but it speaks of the same care and pride that comes with bringing your family together for a meal that you worked with your own hands and heart. This year I am asking my father to teach me.

Ambrosia said...

following you through FMBT. Wow, you can write!!! Love this post. I can't wait to read more.

Danielle said...

OMG, I need to come to your house for a week. Cook for me please. The wonderful smell of Mac and Cheese doesn't get the same response for some reason.

Shanee said...

I'm your newest follower from the Tuesday Blog Hops! Come check out my blog at:

Have a great day!

Chantel said...

Lyndsay--Oh, I would LOVE for you to come for dinner...long drive, but I'll make something lovely! :) (and there is something SO satisfying about making meatballs, isn't there?)

Prairie--I do hope to hand off some good cooks to the ladies when my sons are grown, is there a better sign of success?

Maria--three days for fish? That sounds facinating!! Will you please post about it so I can hear more?

Ambrosia--wonderful to meet you and thanks!

Danielle--Babe, my guest room is open! Bring your little darling and we'll go on long walks to counteract all the culinary delights!

Shanee--nice to meet you!

Jennifer Juniper said...

I love this post - and some of my kids like chicken on the bone...I'll aim for all three next year :)

BabyDealsDujour said...

Following you from BabyDealsDujour,
we list all the baby daily deals in real-time. Love to see you on Facebook and

Can't wait to read more!

jijie said...

Hello! Visiting here and happy tuesday
Happy Holidays
newest follower ,pls. follow me back
:) Thank you

inday_adin said...

I love the way you write it. It's a poem! Love it!

I too love anything with bones especially in soup. I am from the Philippines and we have this soup called "Bulalo". Man! It is very fattening, but I don't care because it is just delicious. It has the bone marrow, bok choy, corn, and all that goodness. LOL! Anyway, I am getting hungry thinking about it. Thanks for visiting and for following!

Adin B

Undeserving Grace said...

I totally agree...that's one thing our teenagers have in common w/ our 5 yr old..enjoy helping me cook or bake! Dropping by from fmbt I'd love to have you visit me at!

Just A Mom (Call me JAM for short) said...

Chantel... only you can't make me think that bone marrow sounds absolutely delectable!

chris said...

you're writing makes me sigh... in a good way :)