Word of the Day – Thursday, June 8th
Osso Buco (Italian for 'holed bone') is a Milanese specialty of veal shanks cooked in meat broth and flavored with white wine, tomato and herbs. Slowly braised, this relatively tough, yet flavorful cut of meat becomes meltingly tender, and the connective tissues and marrow dissolve into the sauce, making it rich and creamy.
The shank is a relatively cheap cut of veal which is readily available in most good supermarkets and butcher shops. Look for meaty hind-shanks cut from the top of the thigh with a high proportion of meat-to-bone; each piece should be about 5" across and 1" to 1-1/2" thick.
4 slices veal hind shank, about 1" to 1-1/2" thick
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs. butter
4 tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
2 cups meat broth
3 tbs. tomato paste
6 anchovie fillets, mashed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2-3 bay leaves
2 strips lemon peel
fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
If the butcher has not done so, tie the shanks around the middle with kitchen twine; this will keep them from falling apart during cooking.
Choose a heavy, covered roasting pan or dutch oven which will just accommodate the veal shanks in one layer. Put the butter, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the onions, celery and carrots in the pan and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables have wilted, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon peel and sauté until they’re fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet until it is near the smoking point. Lightly flour the veal shanks and slip them into the oil. Richly brown the shanks on both of the cut sides, then place them in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.
Place the wine in the skillet and boil until reduced by one-half, scraping up any brown residue. Pour this over the veal shanks.
Heat the beef broth to a boil in the skillet, whisking in the tomato paste and anchovies. Add this to the veal shanks, along with the herbs, several grindings of pepper, and a large pinch of salt. The liquid should cover ¾ of the shanks. If not, add extra water.
Bring the pot to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Cook for approximately 2 hours, turning and basting the shanks every ½ hour. If you notice that the cooking liquids have nearly evaporated, add hot water, about ½ cup at a time. The veal is done when it is fork tender and falling from the bone.
Transfer the shanks to a platter, remove the strings, and cover to keep warm. If the sauce seems watery, as is probable, place the pan on the stove top over high heat and reduce the cooking liquid until the sauce has a thick, creamy consistency. Pour the sauce over the shanks and serve.
The recipe calls for anchovies, which enrich the finished sauce without adding a "fishy" flavor: don't omit them, even should you not be fond of anchovies.
Traditionally, the cooking sauce is finished with a mixture of garlic, lemon zest and parsley called Gremolada. It adds a burst of freshness to the finished dish and is highly recommended. Gremolada consists of the grated zest of one lemon, one finely minced clove of garlic, and one tablespoon of finely chopped parsley. Add this mixture to the sauce at the end of the cooking, as it’s being reduced.
Osso buco is almost always served with risotto—indeed; it’s one of the few examples in Italian cooking where a starch is served with the main course and is a marriage that no man should put asunder. One may, for a change, substitute orzo or acini de pepe cooked in meat broth and finished with butter and parmesan.