Saturday, March 23, 2013

My First Osso Buco

Osso Buco is a dish I have wanted to try for a long time. Finally last week, one of the grass-fed meat vendors at the farmer's market had veal shanks, so it was time to try it out.

Since there's just my sis and me to eat it, I only used 3 of the shanks, a total of just over 2 pounds. 

First I tied kitchen twine around each shank to keep them intact, followed by a liberal dose of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Next I dredged them in flour and browned them in about a third-cup of very hot olive oil in my heavy enameled cast-iron soup pot.

After they were well-browned, I took them out of the pot, added diced carrots and onions to the hot oil, cooking until translucent. (The loose recipes I combined called for celery too, but I was out.) Then I added about half a tablespoon of tomato paste, put the shanks back in with a cup of dry white wine, cooking until the wine was reduced by half.

Next I added a cheesecloth bag with a sprig each of fresh rosemary and thyme, 2 whole cloves, and a bay leaf, and 2 cups of homemade veal stock (chicken stock would work too). It simmered (covered) about 2 hours, and I added a bit more stock as it cooked down, keeping the liquid level up to at least 2/3 the thickness of the shanks.

I ran out of steam to finish the dish, so I let the pot cool, and refrigerated it overnight.

This morning, I veered from the traditional way of serving Osso Buco (whole shank pieces), taking the shanks out of the broth to cut away the tougher portions. (The meat was still very tough even after 2 hours simmering... after all, the legs of bovines get a good workout.) I trimmed away the "scraps" and cut the meat into bite-size pieces and added the meat back to the broth, along with the marrow I scooped out of the bones. 

I think it will all cook out nice and tender, and I'll serve it with creamy grits. So far, the taste of the braise is outstanding, but I need the meat to be more tender so we can chew it! Traditionally Osso Buco is served with polenta or risotto, but I have stone-ground grits on hand. Close enough to suit me!

The bones, trimmings and gristle are now simmering away in the crockpot for more stock, which I will pressure-can. Gristle is just cartilage, which will cook down to a gel substance that's great for our joints. 


Update: I forgot to add a very important part of the recipe: the gremolata garnish! 

    2 Tbsp minced flat (Italian) parsley
    1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (use a microplane for best results)
    2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
Combine the gremolata ingredients and place in a separate small serving dish. 


  1. I'm assuming this was grass fed beef. If so, the hot cooking in oil would have toughened it. To counteract this, adding a small amount of vinegar to the stock would have tenderized it some. Perhaps next time...

    It sure sounds good, I could also smell the braising...

  2. Yes it was grass-fed veal. I did add some ACV to the bones and trimmings I cooked down for stock, but never thought to add some to the braise.

    I forgot to post the gremolata garnish recipe, but have now added it above. It's a VERY essential part of Osso Buco!


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