osso buco with tomatoes, olives, and gremolata

Posted on February 28, 2012. Filed under: Dinner | Tags: , , , , , , , |

One goal of this blog was an excuse for me to make lots of yummy food but another was to share some good recipes and hopefully inspire some of you to try to make some of these dishes yourself.  Tonight, I offer you osso buco.  Much like the pistachio crusted rack of lamb I made, it sounds fancy and it looks fancy but the secret is that it is actually a relatively easy dish and if you follow this recipe, you can impress your in-laws, your boss or your next hot date.  Or you can do what I did and have a nice Sunday dinner with good friends, way too much wine and maybe some Troop Beverly Hills watching.

In case you aren’t familiar, osso buco is a cross-cut veal shank that is braised with vegetables.  It’s veal with the bone in, slow cooked till it is fall-off-the-bone tender and delicious.  There is also marrow in the bone which you should try if you dare!  Much like Henry David Thoreau, you should suck out all the marrow of life (or just the veal).  It’s rich and gelatinous, kind of a funny texture but is considered a delicacy and is used as a base in lots of different soups to make the broth’s flavor rich and meaty.  I served my osso buco with a risotto recipe based on Martha Stewart’s parmesan risotto but also added saffron to make it a risotto milanese which is apparently what is traditionally served with the dish (thanks wikipedia!).  In the end, we had four very full and satisfied bellies and a great recipe to share with you!

osso buco with tomatoes, olives and gremolata (Serves 4)
4 meaty cross-cut veal shanks (osso buco; 2.5 to 3.5 lb total), each tied with kitchen string (optional)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2-3 small carrot, finely chopped
2 celery rib, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 (28- to 32-oz) can whole plum tomatoes with juice (not in purée), coarsely chopped
1 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved (I don’t use that much)
2-3 thyme sprigs
2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 (2- by 1/2-inch) strips fresh lemon zest , cut crosswise into fine julienne
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

For gremolata
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh fresh lemon zest

Prep work makes life good

Ok so that’s a long list of ingredients, yes, but nothing is too unusual or hard to find except for the osso buco.  PS – I get mine at Costco and throw them in the freezer till I want to use them.  As for the olives, I don’t use the full cup because I’m not a HUGE fan of olives.  I put in some chopped up for flavor, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 a cup.  It’s up to you (you can even leave them out).  I recommend chopping up the celery, carrots and onions and putting them together in a bowl before starting to cook.  I also don’t always tie the meat before searing it and I haven’t had too many problems.  You also will need a large dutch oven or other ovenproof pot with a lid.  Now…onto the recipe!

Veal shanky goodness

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Pat the shanks dry and season them with salt and pepper.  Add flour to a large ziplock bag and add the shanks to the bag.  Seal and shake, shake, shake to coat.  Heat oil and 2 tbsp of butter in the ovenproof pan on the stove over medium-high heat.  Brown the shanks well (but don’t burn them!), about 10-12 minutes total and then transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the last tablespoon of butter to the pan.  Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook until the onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients (wine, broth, tomatoes, olives, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, lemon zest, salt and pepper) and stir while bringing to a boil.

Add the veal shanks back to the pot (pour any juice that has accumulated on the plate into the pot as well).  Nestle them into the veggies and liquids, scooping some of the veggies over the meat so it is somewhat hidden.  Return to a simmer before covering and putting in the oven to braise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.  Remove thyme and parsley sprigs and bay leaf from pot and remove string from osso buco. While the dish is braising, combine the chopped parsley, minced garlic and lemon zest for the gremolata.

Magically delicious!

Sprinkle gremolata over osso buco and start shoveling the deliciousness into your gullet as soon as it cools down enough for you to get after it.  FYI I’ve served this with mashed potatoes, polenta and risotto on different occasions.  I loved the risotto most but any carb that will soak up the sauce works well.

Get after it with your fancy self and enjoy!


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