It is no secret that Husband enjoys a good meal. He travels frequently and is lucky to experience some of the country’s best restaurants. He is a very simple and humble man, however this man of mine has developed a very discerning palate and is quite the food critic. Basically, Husband has morphed into a food snob.
I will say that he has remained true to his roots. Big names, fancy architecture, trendy, small portions, and bizarre infusions are not his thing. He gravitates towards authentic. The more off-the-beaten-track a food find is the better. Husband is a blast to travel with and has a gift for finding just the perfect places to eat. And he has this uncanny ability to remember exact locations, menu items, ingredients, tastes, smells, wines, all details I am never able to recollect. Clearly I dig my husband.
So when he asked me to make him osso buco I got right on it. Not right on it, mind you. His request has been in the hopper for several weeks. As our week shaped up I realized two out of the four Littles were spending Friday night out. I pawned off a third to Mrs. Kravitz and hopefully after the littlest goes to bed, Husband and I will enjoy a quiet dinner chez nous.
Osso buco is the kind of dish you love to casually mention you will be making later after carpool. Friends will gasp and say all kinds of things ranging from what a good wife you are to are you freakin’ nuts??? Making osso buco creates a little drama, but its actually quite simple. Shhh…don’t tell my carpool friends.
I adapted my version from two sources: Mark Bittman and Elise over at Simply Recipes. Thanks to you both!
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
4 large veal shanks (hind is best), 6 – 8 oz each, tied with kitchen twine so they don’t fall apart (your butcher will gladly do this for you)
flour for dredging veal
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
4 sprigs fresh thyme or (1/2 tsp dried)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken, beef or veal stock
salt & pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Then brown the pancetta in a dutch oven over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until its crispy brown.
While the pancetta is browning, put the veal in a paper bag with flour and shake to coat the shanks, one at a time.
When pancetta is crispy remove to a plate with a paper towel to drain.
Add the veal shanks to the pan with the hot pancetta fat.
Cook the veal shanks until well browned, about 6 minutes per side. The veal will start to look like this:
When veal is well browned, remove to a plate and add the onions, celery and carrots to the pan. Saute for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and thyme.
Next add the wine and stock. You want the liquid to come half way up the side of the shanks. I add the wine first — it helps deglaze all the yummy pancetta bits at the bottom of the pan. Then I add just enough stock to hit the 1/2 way mark. Wine is more important than stock, right?!?!
Bring to a simmer, cover and put in oven until veal is done. I usually find 1 1/2 hours is the magic number. And I turn my shanks at the 30 minute marks.
Remove veal shanks to a platter and if your sauce is still soupy, put over high heat to reduce then pour over meat to serve. I also made a gremolada which is a garnish traditionally served with osso buco.
Mix together 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest, 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley and 2 cloves of garlic crushed and minced.
The traditional way to serve osso buco is with polenta or risotto. I’m going to keep it simple and serve it with crunchy bread and a bottle of red wine. Also, don’t forget a small spoon or dull knife to scrape out the marrow — it’s the best part!