Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore

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Top food stylist and food writer Jennifer McLagan has a bone to pick: too often, people opt for boneless chicken breasts, fish fillets, and cutlets, when good cooks know that anything cooked on the bone has more flavor ? from chicken or spareribs to a rib roast or a whole fish. In Bones, Jennifer offers a collection of recipes for cooking beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, and game on their bones.

Chicken, steak, and fish all taste better when cooked on the bone, but we've ...

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Top food stylist and food writer Jennifer McLagan has a bone to pick: too often, people opt for boneless chicken breasts, fish fillets, and cutlets, when good cooks know that anything cooked on the bone has more flavor — from chicken or spareribs to a rib roast or a whole fish. In Bones, Jennifer offers a collection of recipes for cooking beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, and game on their bones.

Chicken, steak, and fish all taste better when cooked on the bone, but we've sacrificed flavor for speed and convenience, forgetting how bones can enhance the taste, texture, and presentation of good food — think of rack of lamb, T-bone steak, chicken noodle soup, and baked ham. In her simple, bare-bones style, Jennifer teaches home cooks the secrets to cooking with bones.

Each chapter of Bones includes stocks, soups, ribs, legs, and extremities (except for whole fish — they don't have any). Many of the recipes are simple, with the inherent flavors of the bones doing most of the work. There are traditional, elegant dishes, such as Roasted Marrow Bones with Parsley Salad, Olive-Crusted Lamb Racks, and Crown Roast of Pork, as well as new takes on homestyle favorites, such as Maple Tomato Glazed Ribs, Coconut Chicken Curry, and Halibut Steaks with Orange Cream Sauce. Stunning, full-color photographs of dishes like Rabbit in Saffron Sauce with Spring Vegetables; Grilled Quail with Sage Butter; and Duck Legs with Cumin, Turnips, and Green Olives are sure to inspire.

In addition to the recipes, Bones includes a wealth of information on a wide range of bone-related topics, including the differences among cuts of meat, as well as the history and lore of bones.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this expansive tome, food stylist and writer McLagan offers an alternative to the rubbery chicken breasts and fish filets now standard in Western cookery. By eliminating bones (and fat) from our diet, McLagan passionately argues, we've traded flavor for health and efficiency. Indeed, her book operates on the premise that the pleasure of gnawing on a lamb chop cannot be underestimated. More than a cookbook, this is a compendium of folklore, literary quotes and historical facts that refer to bones' significance across cultures from ancient times to today. There are chapters on beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish and game, each with an introductory section explaining anatomy and recommended cooking temperatures. Sidebars offer suggestions for carving, using unlikely parts, and recovering endangered bone-cooking arts like "spatchcocking," or removing the wishbone from a bird. McLagan's recipes range from arcane (Lancashire Hot Pot, which traditionally consists of a deep dish of stew covered with a potato crust, and long lamb bones piercing through the topping) to contemporary continental (Osso Bucco with Fennel and Blood Orange Sauce). While some recipes are time-consuming, McLagan's instructions are generally clear and precise. With its emphasis on tradition and technique, this work won't appeal to the 20-minute chef, but it will be a welcome addition to the slow-food aficionado's library. Photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
McLagan, a food stylist and food writer, supplies in-depth instructions for preparing not just bones but also the meat that comes with them, whether beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, or game. Each chapter begins with a short overview of the various characteristics of the animal and provides information on cooking temperatures, as well as the various cuts of meat available with handy diagrams. Recipes in each section range from the relatively straightforward operations of preparing stock to more complicated main dishes; that said, McLagan doesn't shy away from less common dishes, including Deviled Bones, Roasted Marrow Bones, Pig's Feet, Fish Head Curry, and Coriander-and-Orange-Braised Elk Ribs. It's a testament to her descriptions and ingredients that these more adventurous items manage to tempt even this reviewer's slightly more pedestrian palate. Recommended for all public libraries.-Courtney Greene, DePaul Univ. Lib., Chicago Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060585372
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/25/2005
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 301,489
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Read an Excerpt


Recipes, History, and Lore
By Jennifer McLagan

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Jennifer McLagan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060585374

Guinea Hen with Raspberries

Serves 4

The guinea hen is a West African relative of the chicken and partridge, originally from Guinea. It has a gamey taste and can dry out easily because it has little fat. Cooking the bird in a covered pot and adding fat solves that problem, and raspberries match its stronger flavor. The raspberries inside the bird will tint the bird's juices red: don't let this fool you into thinking that it needs more cooking.


  • 1 guinea hen, about 3 pounds (1.35 kg)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (250 g) raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup (125 ml) port
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry jam or jelly
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Pat the bird dry and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. Set ½ cup (62 g) of the raspberries aside and place the rest inside the hen. Truss it, then smear the skin with the softened butter.

Place the hen and the thyme in a Dutch oven or flameproof casserole. Pour in 1 cup (250 ml) water, cover, and place in the oven. Cook for 1 to 1 ¼ hours or until the thigh juices run clear when pierced with a skewer or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F (73°C). Transfer the hen to a platter, breast down, and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Skim off the fat from the cooking juices and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the port, raspberry jam or jelly, and vinegar and bring back to a boil, then boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until reduced to 1/3 cup (75 ml). Add any juices from the resting hen and check the seasoning. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a sauceboat and add the remaining raspberries.

Remove the trussing string, from the guinea hen. Carve and serve with the sauce.

Barley Marrow Pudding

Serves 6

This recipe is based on a medieval recipe recorded by Dorothy Hartley in her book Food in England. It is really a rice pudding made with barley, because at the time the recipe was written, that was the readily available grain. The barley is cooked in milk, Then enriched with bone marrow. The dish is highly nutritious, and according to Chinese medicine, the combination of barley and bone marrow is an excellent tonic for the body. If you need a pick-me-up, this is the dish for you.

The marrow must be soaked ahead of time in salted water, changed frequently to remove any traces of blood. It must be also very cold so you can finely dice it.


  • 4 cups (1 L) milk
  • 1 cup (200 g) pearl barley, rinsed well
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • ½ cup (70 g) currants
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons (30 g) finely diced bone marrow
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)


Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and add the barley, sugar, currants, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer very gently, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes.

Uncover the saucepan and continue to simmer very gently for another 15 minutes, or until the barley is just tender.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the marrow, lemon zest, and vanilla. Cover the pan and let it stand until barley has completely absorbed the milk. Serve warm or cold.


Excerpted from Bones by Jennifer McLagan Copyright © 2005 by Jennifer McLagan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Me and bOnes

    A great study as well as a cookbook on the fundementals of much of what we eat.

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