Osso Bucco – Or Awesome Bucco???
Yes, I had to add the cheesy joke. But it’s true. Osso bucco is awesome. Slowly braised until the meat is falling off the bone, it is one of my most favorite Italian dishes. Literally meaning “hole bone”, osso bucco’s prize is the tiny crevice of marrow in the middle. I know. I cringed too when I first heard it.
My first osso bucco experience was at a quaint little Italian restaurant in Orange County where I used to bartend. Both the chef and the owner hailed from a town south of Italy called Bari, though the menu represented a variety of regions. They prepared the most exquisite and authentic cuisine at Vessia Ristorante and I attribute all my knowledge about Italian food and wine to the two years I spent slinging cocktails here.
There was a time when I felt like I practically lived at Vessia Ristorante. Working lunch and dinner shifts, I consumed most of my meals here which gave me the opportunity to taste EVERYTHING. Whenever I wanted to indulge, I would always spring for the osso bucco. At first I was intimidated by the thought of the bone marrow so I would simply eat the surrounding meat, wait for the chef or owner to insult me and present the gooey gem as my peace offering. It still makes me smile when I think about how flabbergasted they were at this silly American girl who would waste such a godly treat. It’s as if I should have been shunned from the Italian society and forced to don a scarlett letter, my badge of shame.
I’m all grown up now so I thoroughly enjoy this squishy little surprise in the middle of the bone. And I’m proud to have introduced this delicacy to him during that memorable trip to Santa Barbara. Yes, it was the same restaurant that inspired our panna cotta craze. It was a legendary meal.
To prepare osso bucco means having the patience to endure the long braising process. Trust me, it’s worth the wait! In theory, it’s best to braise the shanks in a dutch oven on the stovetop or in a regular oven. We have neither a dutch oven nor a grown-up oven. I simply used a glass baking dish, covered it with aluminum foil and braised it in our super high-tech 19th century toaster oven. It worked out swimmingly! Lastly, the traditional osso bucco is garnished with gremolata, which is a mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest. This puts a refreshing finish to a very meaty dish!
|2||large veal shanks, each tied with kitchen string around the meat|
|2||tsp garlic powder|
|1||carrot, peeled and diced|
|2||celery ribs, diced|
|1||small yellow onion, diced|
|4||cloves garlic, minced|
|2||tsp fresh rosemary, minced|
|2||tsp fresh thyme, minced|
|2||fresh bay leaves|
|1||cup beef broth|
|1||cup red wine|
|1/4||cup tomato paste|
|3||sprigs of fresh parsley, minced|
|1||garlic clove, minced|
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Make sure your shanks are tied snuggly to keep the meat from falling off the bone and lightly dredge them in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and set aside. In a large pot (or dutch oven if you’re lucky!), heat a little olive oil and brown the shanks on all sides (approximately 3 minutes per side). Remove from pot and set aside in a deep baking dish or roasting pan.
- In the same large pot, saute the onions until they are translucent. Next add the carrots and celery. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaves. Saute for another 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, thyme and rosemary and saute for another 2 minutes. Next, add the broth and wine. Mix thoroughly and bring to a slow boil. Simmer this sauce for 10 minutes.
- Combine the parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small container. Keep chilled in the refrigerator. If you’ve been using a dutch oven to make the sauce, just place the browned shanks in the dutch oven and coat them thoroughly. Cover and place in the oven to braise for 3-4 hours. If you’re like me, pour the sauce over the browned shanks that were set aside in a roasting pan or baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and braise in the oven for 3-4 hours. TIP: Make sure the wide opening of the bone is facing up when you place the shanks in the pan. This will help keep the bone marrow from falling out.
- After you’ve done everything you possibly can to keep your mind off of your grumbling tummy for four hours, remove the shanks from the oven. Gently remove the shanks from the sauce and place on two separate plates. Keep warm. Meanwhile, strain the sauce into a small saucepan and reserve the vegetables. Bring the sauce to a slow boil and season with salt and pepper. Dissolve 1 tsp of flour in 3 Tbsp of water and mix into your sauce to thicken. Pour the sauce over the osso bucco, add the vegetables and garnish with the gremolata. This is wonderful with a side of saffron risotto!