Osso buco is a classic Lombard cuisine that consists of tender cross-cut veal shanks. The meat gets braised in broth, white wine, and the freshest vegetables one could find. Depending on where you dine, either polenta or risotto alla milanese accompanies the dish. And if you’re already tired of the usual pasta-and-pizza type of Italian flair, then you’ve got to make your very own Osso Buco. It’s easy.
Choosing the Ingredients
Fans of the dish say that nobody makes Osso Buco the way the Milanese do. This should never dishearten you in making the perfect Osso Buco for your loved ones. The trick is to use the best possible ingredients you can find.
The traditional dish calls for tender veal shanks cut crosswise to expose the bone marrow in the middle. The best part is the hind shank of the young cattle. It is critical to use veal as it is more tender, which can help provide for a more pleasant experience. Have the butcher cut them in 1.5 to 2-inch thick pieces. If veal is unavailable, you can pick beef shin. You will need to adjust the length of cooking time, however.
Onions, carrots, and celery are a must; although you can make modifications depending on your personal taste preferences. For instance, some like the sweetness of carrots, while others leave them out.
You can never make the perfect Osso Buco without white wine. Some folks tend to reduce it into a thick syrup, while others prefer the zingier and lighter version of a more fluid sauce. You will also need a stock to slow-cook the veal in. Most will use beef or veal stock, although chicken stock works nicely, too.
The traditional version of the dish does not require the addition of tomatoes, especially if you are going to serve the dish with gremolata or saffron-based risotto. The more modern version uses tomatoes. There are those that use tomato puree, while others prefer the sharper taste of fresh diced tomatoes.
The only flavorings you will need are parsley and lemon zest for the gremolata. However, this does not mean you cannot experiment. Add marjoram, sage, or rosemary if you like.
A Sample Osso Buco Recipe
This Osso Buco recipe is very easy to make. It is a more modern take to the classic dish since we are going to use tomatoes. Feel free to make the necessary adjustments to suit your tastes.
- 2 lbs of cross-cut veal shanks
- ¼ cup of butter
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 large piece of onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 large piece of carrot, chopped
- 2/3 cup of beef stock
- 2/3 cup of dry white wine
- 1 can of diced tomatoes, about 14.5 ounces
For the Gremolata
- ½ cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, grated
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Place the veal shanks on a large plate and lightly dust them with the all-purpose flour.
- Put a large skillet on the stove and turn the heat to medium or medium-high. When the skillet is hot enough, put the butter to melt.
- Cook the individual pieces of veal shanks in the hot melted butter. Cook until they form a brownish exterior.
- Remove the veal shanks from the skillet and place them in a bowl. Keep them warm.
- In the same skillet, sauté the garlic and onion until the onion turns translucent and tender.
- Return the cooked veal shanks into the skillet and add the chopped carrots and the white wine.
- Allow the dish to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes and the beef stock. Mix to incorporate the beef stock and tomatoes into the mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper and adjust according to your taste.
- Cover the skillet and allow to simmer for 1.5 hours over low heat. Make sure to baste the veal shanks every 15 to 20 minutes. What you want to achieve is a tender meat, but will not fall off the bone.
- Get a small bowl and combine the gremolata ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture over the osso buco before serving.
The next time you prepare a sumptuous meal for your family, consider making an Osso Buco. It will change the way you look at Italian cuisine forever.