Valentine’s Day has just come and gone but there are plenty of evenings to cook a great meal for that special someone.
Osso buco is a dish that comes from the Lombardia region of Italy; the region surrounding Milan. It’s really simple to prepare. You just need to find a good source for the veal shanks and have some patience to let them do their thing in the oven. In Los Angeles at Huntington Meats—my favorite neighborhood butcher—I found beautiful 4-inch cross-cut veal shanks. Huntington Meats cut them to order and tied them, so they were ready to go!
Osso buco is usually served over a bed of something to soak up all the wonderful sauce. You can use creamy polenta, cooked orzo or the traditional Risotto Milanese. Top with the traditional gremolata as described in the recipe.
To find a wine to pair with osso buco, I would recommend one of the famous Piedmont wines, such as Barolo or Barbaresco, such a special meal deserves. (Piedmont is next to Lombardy.) This Valantine’s Day we chose this 1999 Barbaresco, which we’d been saving. This wine was just at its peak and with 13.5% alcohol not too strong, yet full of subtle, complex, rich flavors that paired perfectly with the succulent, mild veal.
Provide little spoons with the Osso Buco so you can scoop out the bone marrow as a special treat. The sauce that’s left over from the braising will go wonderfully with pasta the next day.Print
This wonderful comfort dish is great for a special occasion. Serve over creamy polenta, cooked orzo or Risotto Milanese. The topping of gremolata helps to cut the richness of this special dish.
- 2 4-inch diameter cross-cut veal shanks; tied
- Flour for dredging the veal shanks (about a cup)
- Extra-virgin olive oil for searing the veal shanks and sautéing the vegetables (about a quarter cup)
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and skin removed
- 1 entire bottle of inexpensive (Italian) red wine
- 1 x 6-ounce can of Italian tomato paste
- 1 small bunch parsley (20 sprigs)
- 5–10 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 orange or lemon
- Prepared horseradish
- Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
- Dry off the veal shanks completely with paper towels. Place a cup or so of flour on a large plate. Dredge the tied veal shank in the flour and coat completely. Set aside.
- In a heavy-bottom dutch oven over medium heat, add a thin layer of olive oil and heat till shimmering.
- Brown all sides of the veal shanks well in the olive oil. Stand the shanks on the edges to brown them as well. Remove to a plate.
- Add more olive oil if needed to sauté the vegetables. Add the diced carrots, celery, onion and smashed garlic cloves along with a pinch of salt. Sauté over medium-low heat until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the entire bottle of red wine to the pot and bring to boil. Add half the tomato paste to the pot and stir till dissolved. Carefully (it’s hot) taste the wine-tomato paste mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the 2 shanks to the hot wine sauce. Add enough water to cover completely.
- With butcher’s twine, make a bundle of about 10 parsley sprigs and the thyme and add to the pot. Also, add the bay leaves. Make sure they are submerged.
- Place in the oven for 2 hours to braise.
- While the veal braises, make the gremolata. Zest an entire lemon or orange into a small bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp of prepared horseradish. Finely chop the leaves of about 10 parsley sprigs and add to the bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper; stir together thoroughly. Place bowl in the refrigerator until the veal is done.
- When the veal has braised for 2 hours, open the oven and put the lid slightly ajar (be careful–it’s HOT). This will allow the sauce to thicken. Braise for 15 minutes more.
- Remove the dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. The veal should be falling-off-the-bone tender and nicely caramelized.
- Prepare the plates with a good portion of the creamy polenta, cooked orzo or risotto in the center. Transfer one veal shank to each plate. With kitchen shears, carefully snip off and remove the butcher’s twine (it may have fallen off into the pot).
- Spoon with some additional sauce from the pot. Top each shank with a generous pinch of the gremolata and serve!