One of my favorite cut of meat is Osso Buco, which literally means “bone with a hole” (Osso “bone”, Buco “hole”). It is the cross-cut of a veal shank with a marrow hole in the center. The veal shank is usually relatively cheap and flavorful, although tough, low and slow braising makes it tender & juicy. The marrow in the bone is silky and smooth, and perfectly caramelized to bring out the amazing flavors hidden in the bone!
This traditional dish from Milan is very easy to make and requires very few ingredients. Also, I understand that veal can be quite hard to find, and some people view it as inhumane to consume it, but both beef and pork work perfectly with this dish. The flavorful braised meat and its semi-sweet sauce are perfect to serve with risotto, polenta or mashed potato
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cross-cut shanks (about 1 lb each)
- Veal: the best and the most traditional choice, very tender with a slight sweetness, but very hard to find
- Beef: easy to find, very flavorful and juicy, can be a bit tough if not cooked right
- Pork: easy to find, a bit sweet, can be a bit dry are long cooking, lower the temperature a bit
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped pancetta
- 2 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 stem of thyme
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups veal, beef or chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to make this:
- Dry both sides of the shanks, and generously season each side of the shank with salt and pepper, then cover with flour to get better browning on the shanks. Heat up a pan over medium-high heat, pour in the olive oil, and right before the oil starts smoking, place the shank in the pan. Sear each side for about 5 min or until they look like this. (It’s very important to brown both sides of the shank, the caramelization brings out a lot of amazing flavors, and help the meat stay on the bone)
- Take the browned shanks out of the pan, and in the same pan, add the chopped pancetta, onion, celery and carrot, turn the heat down to medium and cook them for about 10 min or until the onion has turned translucent. Add the minced garlic half way through since garlic burns very easily.
- Add the tomato paste to the pan, stir and let the tomato paste to cook and bring out some sweetness, then pour in the white wine, stir until the sauce becomes even. (It’s very important to pour in the wine when the pan is hot since the alcohol will be cooked out while the wine’s aroma and flavors can be saved.)
- Place the shanks in the pan, and add the broth until they almost submerge the shanks. Cover it and let it slowly braise in a 175C or 350F oven for about an hour, then remove the lid and cook for another 30 min to thicken the sauce. You can add 10 min at the end if you want a thicker sauce.
- Serve it with some polenta, risotto or mashed potato. I made Risotto alla Milanese or the Saffron Risotto which is a traditional side for this dish, you can find how to make Risotto here, and Enjoy!