Osso Buco is basically braised veal shanks. Recipes can be found from many regions of Italy, and while they can vary slightly in ingredients and methodology, they are generally quite similar. Some use tomatoes, some don’t, some use tomato paste, while others don’t, and so on.
In addition to the prep work, it takes a bit of time to brown and incorporate the ingredients, and then a couple of hours to finish things off braising in the oven. Some recipes just have the dish simmering on the stove instead – but still, it takes time. One suggestion is to prepare the dish the day before, and then, on the day of serving you can warm the Osso Buco up while you cook your “base” – pasta, polenta, risotto, whatever you decide.
The meat surrounds a good chunk of bone, and it has been suggested that you provide your diners with a small spoon to scoop out and enjoy the marrow. All in all, this dish is hearty and delicious.
While we start the cooking and searing in a cast-iron skillet, you may just want to use your large enamel Dutch oven. Do whatever you think will work best for you. Some of the extra oil listed in the ingredients is a result of the “two-pot” method.
- Four large Veal Shanks
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dusting
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1 cup, diced onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups low-sodium veal, beef or chicken stock
- I 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed, or 1 24-0z. bottle of passata
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste, optional
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or brown sugar, optional
Note: In her recipe found in Lidia’s Favorite Recipes, well-known restaurateur and chef, Lidia Bastianich employs the zest of a lemon and of an orange, along with the juice of the orange. She peels the zest in strips, being careful not to include the white part, or pith. She adds the zest and orange juice when she adds the wine. She does not use balsamic vinegar or brown sugar.
- Zest of two lemons
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Combine all the gremolata ingredients in a bowl, mixing thoroughly.
Lay the veal shanks in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle liberally on both sides with salt. Refrigerate for two hours.
Rinse the veal shanks of their salt and pat dry with paper towels. If there is fat around the meat, score it with a sharp knife every couple of inches (5 centimetres) to keep the meat from curling when it cooks. Don’t cut deeply through the meat itself.
Wrap each veal shank once around the circumference with twine so that it holds the bone and meat together in the centre. Tie the twine with a good knot. Season the veal shanks with pepper. Then dredge the shanks with flour, shaking off excess.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a large cast-iron frying pan over high heat, put 2 tablespoons of the oil and the butter and heat to smoking. Then, brown the veal shanks two at a time for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until browned. Don’t crowd the pan. (If needed, you can add another tablespoon or so of oil.) Remove from the pan and set aside.
Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven pot on medium-high heat, and add the carrots and celery, diced onion, garlic rosemary and thyme over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent. You don’t want to burn or brown them.
Add the wine and bring to a boil until the wine is reduced to half.
Add the stock along with the tomato paste (optional) and the tomatoes or passata to the pot. At this point, Lidia Bastianich would add the zests and the orange juice. Return the veal shanks to the mixture. The liquid should almost cover the shanks. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for one and a half to two hours, until the meat is fork-tender.
Bring it from the oven. Taste the sauce at this point. Depending on the flavour, you could adjust by adding either the white balsamic vinegar or brown sugar, to taste.
Remove the herbs and discard. If the sauce needs thickening, simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Note: The Osso Buco could be prepared the day before, and then just warmed in the sauce in the oven on the day of serving.
Place a serving of polenta, risotto, or pasta in a bowl, top with a piece of the Osso Buco, and ladle on some sauce. Don’t forget to remove the twine!
Garnish each Osso Buco with the Gremolata, and serve. Buon Appetito!
There are some lovely, relatively inexpensive reds on the Jan. 9 Vintages Release that would pair really well with this rich and tasty dish.
Luciano Arduini Bacan Rosso Veronese 2016, $14.95, has a thrilling review from Italy’s Luca Maroni, who refers to “exceptional concentration”, calling it equally powerful and suave, with brilliant acidity and majestic structure.”
From the Abruzzo region, there’s Zaccagnini Tralcetto Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo 2018, $16.95. This is robust, displaying raspberry and blackberry fruit with grace notes of coffee, leather, and sandalwood.
Portugal’s Quinta Do Espirito Santo 2017, $14.95, was best in show for the Lisboa region in the 2019 Spring tasting for Mundus Vini. Vintages tells us it is balanced and complex with both fresh and dried fruit notes, solid round tannins, and a mocha element on the finish.
Bertani Catullo Valpoplicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2016, $23.95 is a bit more expensive but worth it. “Catullo” refers to the Roman poet, Catullus, who had his summer villa at Sirmione, the peninsula stretching out into Lake Garda west of Verona. Luca Maroni is ecstatic over this one, suggesting “the creamy texture flows full-bodied, softly abundant and generous,” It is vigorous, long and smooth, and “absolutely among the best Italian wines.” – 98.
On the regular list, Tuscany’s Carpineto Dogajolo 2018, $16.95, combines 80 per cent Sangiovese with 20 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon in a tasty, velvety creation that goes down smoothly with a lightly tannic finish. Easy to appreciate and enjoy.
There are also some fine white wines worth trying on the Jan. 9 release.
Domaine Tariquet Classic Blanc 2019, $12.95, carries a 90 from the Decanter World Wine Awards which explains that it has a “vibrant nose of lemon, grapefruit and geranium” in a “refreshing style with clean acidity and simple fruit character.
Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Viognier 2018, $14.95, is always reliable. Writer Natalie MacLean references a dry wine with “honey apricot, ginger aromas on the nose” and “lemon zest, soft orange, ripe stone fruit and cake spice flavours on the palate.” - 90.
Australia’s Yalumba Organic Viognier 2019, $16.95, would provide a good comparison with the French example above. It has good weight with the suggestion of orange and apricot and has good lemony acidity in balance. (The companion Pinot Gris is on the regular list: try them both!)
California’s Tom Gore Chardonnay 2018, $19.95, has great sophistication for a wine at this price point. The grapes were sourced from both Central Coast and North Coast vineyards, and the wine has a gently round mouthfeel, along with crisp apple notes that quickly yield to softer, more tropical sensations. It is totally enjoyable with rich impressions that linger to tempt you to yet another sip.