Veal shank tends to be chewy and very tough. It’s a cross section of the calf so it works hard and is extremely flavorful.
OssoBuco is a northern Italian braise of the veal shank; a Milanese recipe from the late 1800’s. It’s not complicated but it is laborious because you cook the meat three times.
And there’s a signature twist at the end.
Let’s make Osso Buco!
Get the best veal shanks you can afford, meaty and with big marrow bones in the center. The melting marrow gives our sauce its special character. Start with bacon in a thick bottomed pot.
Salt and fresh ground pepper the shanks, then dredge them in flour.
Take the bacon out and drop them (carefully) into the smoking hot fat.
See the little blood spots? That’s good.
The natural juices are trying to get away from the heat. Wait to flip them until the tops are wet and completely bloody.
While they are browning chop up a mirepoix, that classic combination of onion, carrot and celery. 3 or 4 cups should do.
When the veal is crusty brown lift it out, set it aside, melt some butter...
... and drop the vegetables into the same pot.
Stir around and don’t let them burn, just sweat them out until they’ve softened. Now the fun part.
Here comes the wine!
I added bay leaves and chopped parsley, twigs of thyme and lemon zest and a cup or so of good, black olives.
With no pits.
Plus a bottle of cheap Italian white! Yeah baby.
Then two 28 oz. Cans of peeled tomatoes.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Nestle the meat into the liquids and slip in a couple cups of frozen chicken stock. From your freezer. Right?
Put the lid on, stir now and then, let it bubble for 2 or 3 hours and then take it off the heat.
Now put it into the fridge overnight.
It’s a pain, I know. So what?
We’re cookin’ here!
The next morning the stock will be gelled with all the fat congealed up on the top.
This is important: Scoop it off. All of it.
With the flavors married overnight in the fridge and now stripped of its fat, it is ready to bubble again.
Two more hours and we’re there. Make some pasta!
Now here’s the twist. Gremolata.
Chop fresh parsley, garlic and lemon zest into a blend, then sprinkle it on top before you serve.
The sharp and fresh top notes dance all over the rich and autumnal, smokey, meaty base.
With an Italian red as brawny as the veal itself?
You won’t like this dish at all.