Osso Buco

The first time I remember eating this gift of the gods was at a little restaurant in Venice, and while it is not the regional dish of note the version I had was memorable in the extreme. Thirty some-odd years later it is still a favourite of mine and one I make when the weather turns cold and snowy, and today was one of those days, in fact it was - frozen balls on a brass monkey cold, at -22 Celsius and it snowed and even drifted a bit, for effect. It is supposed to fall to -36 by the middle of the week so I may need to make it again, or just drink heavy. I haven't decided at this point.

Osso Buco is a hearty dish and very easy to prepare, and there are a number of variations to it that should satisfy any taste bud.  While I'm no expert in the history of it, (although I am an insufferable expert on many other topics and activities, just ask me!) I have done extensive research (Wikipedia) and all my research indicates the dish is traditionally made with veal shank and white wine as the main ingredients in the braising liquid and served with gremolata.

Other variants have it made with red wine, beef shank, lamb shank, tomato puree, and also with some strong cheese added to the braise at the finish. I won't stand on any stump and say one is better than the other, because I am a humble and meek blogger, and I like them all.  The one I make at home is most often made with beef shank or pork shank. Lamb shank is awesome as well, but the traditional ingredient, veal shank, is very difficult to find because apparently some nefarious prick somewhere is hoarding the worlds supply of veal, so we are forced to use alternative shanks like beef, pork and lamb, and it turns out they are all wonderful.

I also use tomato puree or sauce and use either red wine or white wine, depending on what I have on hand or in my hand as it were. Using tomato puree and red wine offers a very rich and savory sauce that is a wonderful companion to almost any starch. I have paired it with different pastas, gnocchi, potatoes, noodles both home made and store bought, rice and even spaetzle. For tonight's offering I made a very nice black and wild rice pilaf, and it was a winner.

So without further ado, lets make a little loving...

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
4 veal, beef or pork shanks, about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 4 lbs)

1 large onion minced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 large carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed

3 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 cup dry white or red wine

1 large can (28 oz) tomatoes, drained and chopped (or 14 oz can tomato sauce)

2 cups low sodium beef or chicken stock

1 Tbs parsley, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon pepper, mix well.

Place the shanks into the seasoned flour to dredge (coat both sides well).

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until very hot, place the flour coated shanks into the hot Dutch oven and cook until well-browned on all sides, remove from pan and set aside.

Add the onions, celery and carrots and garlic (a kind of mirepoix) to the Dutch oven and cook until softened.

Add 2 tablespoons of the seasoned flour to the mirepoix (not a ménage à trois, but I like the way you think!) and saute for about another 2 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, basil, salt and pepper, the wine and stir making sure you have scraped the bottom and sides of the pot to get all the browned goodness into the mixture, add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.

Place the browned shanks back into the Dutch oven.  Put the lid on and place into the preheated oven.

Cook for 2 -3 hours, or until the shanks are very tender.  Serve with rice, roasted potatoes, buttered egg noodles, linguini or whatever other starch floats your boat.

This is comfort food, plain and simple.  The name makes it sound exotic but it is just good old fashioned comfort food. It is like a stew in that it tasted better the second day so perhaps make it a day ahead of wanting it to really take it to another level.

Snowy Palms Resort