Osso buco is is Italian for “bone with a hole”. Traditionally this dish is made with veal shanks, but also works well with beef shanks, or even lamb shanks. It reminds me of beef short ribs, in that it’s a dish that is perfect for company as it looks impressive but is considerably hands off. You can even prep everything the day before, and refrigerate overnight, and just bring your braising liquid to a boil on the stovetop before putting into the oven.
Gremolata is a delightful, bright, garnish that I tend to only make for this dish, but every time I do I think I should use it for other things.
There are a few alterations from this and a more traditional osso buco. I don’t dredge the meat in flour before browning, because I’ve found I always end up with too much burnt flour bits. If you use a bit of oil the shanks will brown up nicely even without the flour. I also skip the step of putting my fresh herbs in cheesecloth- really, it’s pretty easy to remove them at the end of cooking so I find the step of creating a little bouquet garni to be an unnecessary step.
I always save all of the cooking liquid/veg, freeze it in containers and use it as a base for future gravy on days I’ve made something where I want gravy but haven’t made a roast or what not – think poutine 😉
Time: 20 minute prep, 2 hours cook
You will need:
- 4 veal or beef shanks
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, small dice
- 1 medium carrot small dice
- 1 large stalk of celery, small dice
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups of dry white wine, divided (I use chardonnay)
- 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock – I used this veggie bouillon
- 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley minced
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 small clove garlic finely minced
Preheat the oven 300F.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large dutch oven on medium high until almost smoking. Pat shanks dry (they will brown better) and season with salt and pepper on each side. Add shanks to dutch oven, browning on each side- about 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t over crowd your pot or they will steam rather than brown. You may have to do this one at a time depending on the size of your shanks and your pot. Set them aside on a plate. You may need to add the additional oil between shanks.
While browning the shanks, dice onion, carrot, celery and set aside.
When shanks are finished, add onion, carrot, celery to the pot. Cook for a minute or two, and then slowly add 1 cup of wine to the pot to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer veg in white wine until wine has almost entirely reduced and been absorbed by the veg.
Add 4 cloves of minced garlic. Stir for an additional minute, ensuring that you do not burn the garlic. Add the two tbsp of tomato paste and stir into the vegetables. Add the other cup of white wine, and 2 cups of chicken or veggie stock. Add the sprigs of rosemary and thyme and then put the shanks and any juice on the plate back in the pot. Your shanks should be mostly submerged in liquid, but if there are a few bits sticking out that’s ok. Place lid on pot and place in oven on middle rack.
After 1 hour, remove from oven and move shanks around ensuring that any bits that were above the liquid are now under it. Return to oven for one more hour.
For the gremolata, finely mince 3 tbsp fresh parsley, mix with zest of one lemon and one small clove of garlic finely minced and set aside until ready to serve.
When shanks are done (they should be very tender) remove from oven. Remove sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Remove bay leaves. Serve over risotto. At this point, you can either spoon over some of the cooking liquid and veg as is, or you can use an immersion blender and blend into a smoother gravy. Garnish with gremolata. Don’t forget that the bone marrow is supposed to be the most delicious part!