Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Osso Buco

Jim and I splurged last month to purchase two beautiful veal shanks from the grocery store to remake one of Italy's most renowned braises: osso buco. It's a classic Milanese dish cooked in a rich broth that includes tomato and wine. The dish is finished with lemon zest and parsley, which stand in for the more common gremolata that often accompanies it, along with a creamy polenta. The term ossobuco roughly translates to "hole in the bone" or "pierced bone." Once cooked, don't forget to dig into the amazing bone marrow!

I loosely followed a recipe I found on Epicurious. In addition to the two 14 ounce veal shanks, I gathered:
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups veal stock
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups canned plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 t dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

I was very excited to try out this Demi-Glace Gold. I had heard that many fine dining restaurants use this to make their veal stock, so I was anxious to see how it worked for me too.

I had help choosing the wine for this meal. Jim and I consulted with Central Markets wine experts to choose Italian wine for this special meal. I cooked with the one on the right, and we drank the wine on the left with the meal.

After seasoning the veal shanks with salt and pepper, I tied cooking twine around each to secure the meat to the bone. When braised, the meat will literally fall off if not tied together.

Next, I lightly rolled the veal shanks in flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a large dutch oven over high heat. Put the oil into the casserole and let it heat. Brown the veal shanks in the hot oil for about 5 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. If the oil turns dark during the process, like mine did, discard it and heat a fresh cup of oil for the veggies.
Remove the meat to a plate and let rest while we cook the veggies.

Add the onion, celery and carrots to the dutch oven and cook over medium heat for about five minutes.

Stirring constantly.

Add the garlic, stir and cook for one minute until fragrant.

Add the one cup of dry red wine .

Cook for about two minutes, until reduced by half.

At this point it's time to add back the veal shanks and the rest of the liquid and spices.

In go the veal shanks.

Next we add two cups of veal stock, two cups of chicken stock and  3 cups of crushed tomatoes.

The herbs I added at the end are thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf. Once the liquid boils, cover, transfer to the oven, and cook for 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bones.

I can't say why I don't have pictures beyond this point because I remember setting up the shots. I was so ecstatic to take pictures of our tiny espresso spoons being used to remove the bone marrow. The sauce looked completely amazing on top of the creamy polenta. I am just sick that the pictures seemed to vanish from my camera!

You will just have to imagine with me.

After 2 1/2 hours of cooking, carefully remove the veal shanks from the pot and set aside. The meat will definitely be falling off the bone. I had to use a combinations of tongs and a spatula to get the meat out in one piece. Next, I strained the braising liquid and discarded the herbs. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until reduced by a quarter. Using a skimmer or large spoon, skim off any grease or foam that rises to the surface. Return the strained vegetables and the veal shanks to the liquid and taste for seasoning.

To serve, cut and discard the twine, put a single osso buco (veal shank) in a bowl, and ladle about 3/4 cup of the sauce and vegetables over it. I made a super creamy polenta by adding 1/2 cup of cream cheese to the hot polenta and put that on the plate first, topped with the osso buco and then topped with a ladle of rich sauce and chunky vegetables. Garnish each osso buco with the lemon zest, and chopped parsley and season with pepper. It was TO. DIE. FOR. I can't wait until the next time we splurg and I can make this again, and hopefully get the pictures of the finished product posted.

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