Osso Buco della Mamma
Finalmente! It was almost one year ago when I prepared osso buco for Zia and promised you that I would soon post the recipe. Well, that was the plan.
As I mentioned last week, Mom didn’t leave us a cookbook but we do have a couple of notebooks in which her recipes can be found, in varying states of completion. The osso buco I prepared for Zia was based on a recipe that I found which was little more than a few notes. We enjoyed the dinner and, when I got home, I set about writing the recipe. That’s when I found it, Mom’s full recipe. She had written notes in one book and the full recipe in another. I had taken one version with me to Michigan and referred to the other when I began writing the recipe. The post was put on hold until I could prepare Mom’s actual recipe. The Visitation would prove the perfect opportunity to both prepare Mom’s recipe and celebrate Zia’s return to Chicago.
I’m fully aware that some may object to eating veal, for a variety of reasons. I myself cringe when, while traveling through Michigan, I see the tiny enclosures used to raise calves for veal. Today there are alternatives. A quick check with Google will provide you with the names of local farms that raise veal humanely and the stores that carry their product. Be forewarned, however, that your peace of mind won’t come cheaply. A much less expensive alternative is to substitute beef shanks for the veal. In fact, that’s what I did when I tested both versions of Mom’s recipe, and, what I do when I’ve a taste for osso buco but don’t wish to take out a loan to satisfy it.
There are few differences between Mom’s original recipe and what I’ve prepared here, and those involve my use of a slow cooker. Braising shanks in an oven requires more liquid than doing so in a slow cooker. The recipe reflects this. Additionally, as you’ll soon see, Mom cooked 4 shanks at a time. I only cooked 2, though I kept most ingredient amounts the same. This meant that I had quite a bit of extra sauce left over. See below to learn how we used that sauce.
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Osso Buco Recipe
- 4 veal shanks (See Notes)
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1 large onion sliced
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (See Notes)
- 1/2 cup veal stock – chicken may be substituted
- 1 large can (28 oz, 794 g) whole tomatoes, torn/crushed by hand
for the Gremolata
- 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped — anchovy paste may be substituted
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- Season the shanks with salt & pepper on both sides. Begin to heat some oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Place about 1/3 cup of flour into a plastic bag, followed by 2 of the shanks. Carefully shake to coat the shanks with flour. Place the shanks in the now hot oil and repeat with the remaining 2 flanks.
- Cook the shanks until both sides are well-browned, – about 7 or 8 minutes total. Remove and reserve.
- Meanwhile, add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes, tomato paste, and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Stir until combined.
- Use the white wine to deglaze the frying pan and pour the liquid into the slow cooker when finished.
- Add the shanks to the slow cooker. Be sure to include any of the juices that may have collected on the plate.
- Add enough stock so that the sauce comes halfway up the sides of the shanks.
- Set the slow cooker to “LOW” and cook for 8 hours. To speed up the cooking time, for every hour cooked on “HIGH” reduce the cooking time by 2 hours.
- About every hour, baste the top of the shanks to keep them moist. (See Notes)
- Make the gremolata towards the end of the cooking process:
- In a small bowl, combine the anchovies, garlic, parsley, and zest. Stir until fully combined.
- Carefully remove the shanks and serve immediately with sauce and garnished with a sprinkling of gremolata.
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Osso buco served with polenta and broccolini
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I’ve slightly adjusted Mom’s recipe to reflect braising these shanks in a slow cooker and not the oven. If using the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350˚ F (175˚ C).
- Increase the amount of liquids use 2/3 cups dry white wine and 3/4 cups stock.
- Cook for 1½ to 2 hours. Meat should be fork tender and just about falling off the bone. Let it go too long and it will fall of the bone, ruining your presentation.
Although you can get shanks as thin as an inch, 2 inch thick shanks were used here. Cooking times may vary if you use shanks that vary in thickness.
Ask your butcher to tie the shanks to prevent them from falling apart during the braise. Be sure to remove the string before serving.
Attempting to turn the shanks over while braising is very problematic. They may, in fact, fall apart during the process. Best to leave them as-is and baste them periodically throughout the braise. If braising in the oven, baste the shanks every 30 minutes or so, If using a slow-cooker, baste every hour or so. Remember, the fewer times you uncover a slow cooker, the better.
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It’s that time again
Winter is fast approaching and I’m going to sneak in one last visit with Zia before it gets here. The Kitchens will be closed while I’m gone.
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About that extra sauce
After our dinner, the leftover sauce was split in half. Zia’s portion went into the freezer and went home with her. My portion was later used to dress the homemade tagliatelle pictured above.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
Last weekend saw this area’s farmers markets close for the year, reflecting the fact that very little, if anything, will be grown here for the next 6 months. This doesn’t mean, however, that all locally grown produce has disappeared and no longer available. Because of their relatively long shelf-life, our markets will still carry apples, squash and a variety of root vegetables for weeks, even months, to come. Today’s look back features a stove top method for braising root vegetables, a recipe that will make an attractive side dish for any of the feasts you may prepare this holiday season. You can learn all about it by clicking HERE.
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Coming soon to a monitor near you …
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