I was first introduced to this traditionally northern Italian dish in a cooking class that I took at the Disney Institute at Walt Disney World back in the fall of 1999. Since that time, I have tasted examples that range from mediocre to “change your life good” (Hello, little restaurant in San Francisco of which I can’t remember the name). I have made several different recipes and have even had to wing it when I didn’t have one of the recipes handy (this is one of those dishes that once you get the basics of it, you don’t need that recipe to follow).
It’s no quick weeknight dinner and more suited to when you have several hours to prepare a meal. But the end result is like velvet in your mouth and it has become one of my very favorite dishes in the world to both make and eat.
2-4 veal shanks cut approximately 1 1 /2” thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon dry parsley
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 (14 .5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 1/2 to 2 cups low sodium canned chicken broth (possibly more if needed)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons minced zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
You will also need:
Heavy shallow casserole with a lid (like a dutch or french oven)
Pre-heat oven to 325°.
Tie each of the veal shanks snugly to keep them from falling apart in the cooking process. Pat dry with paper towels and salt and pepper all sides. Place French oven over high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Brown shanks for about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Deglaze pan with about 1/2 cup of the white wine, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour into the bowl with the shanks and return pot to medium-high heat. (Repeat this process until all shanks are browned.)
Add a couple of more tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until soft and lightly browned (may take 5-10 minutes). Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Turn heat to high and add remaining wine, 1 1/2 cups of broth, juices from veal shanks, bay leaves, parsley & thyme and tomatoes. Return the veal shanks to the pot. Make sure that the liquid just almost covers the shanks; add broth as needed to adjust the level of the liquid. Cover pot and bring to a simmer.
Once simmering, cock the lid of the pot so that it is slightly ajar and place in the preheated oven (325°). Cook until meat is easily pierced with a fork but not necessarily falling off the bone (about 2 hours).
Prepare the gremolata by thoroughly combining all three ingredients (garlic, zest & parsley).
When the osso buco has finished cooking in the oven, stir half of the gremolata into the pot with the osso buco and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the osso buco to stand, uncovered, for about five minutes.
Be prepared. The smell is intoxicating.
To serve: remove the shanks from the pot, cut off the twine and place on the serving dish. Ladle on some of the braising liquid with the vegetables & tomatoes (but discarding bay leaves). Top with just a sprinkle of the remaining gremolata and serve immediately.
Osso buco is traditionally served with Risotto alla Milanese which is a saffron infused risotto.
It is easy to bump up the ingredients for more shanks to feed a large crowd. You can easily do 8-10 shanks in a decent sized roasting pan.
Now in pictures….
Tie the veal shank around the middle.
Brown the shanks in oil on high heat and deglaze the pan with white wine.
Cook onions, carrots, and celery over medium heat until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add white wine, chicken broth and canned diced tomatoes. Return shanks to the pot, bring to a simmer then place in 325° oven for 2 hours.
While it’s in the oven, make the gremolata.
When it’s done, the meat should pretty much fall off the bone. Stir in half of the gremolata and let stand uncovered for 5-10 minutes.
Serve alongside some risotto alla milanese (saffron risotto).