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Classic Osso Buco

In this classic recipe from Lombardy, Italy, veal shanks are slowly braised to a melting tenderness. The rich marrow of the bones is as delectable as the meat itself. Pass out small spoons at the table so diners can scoop out every delicious bit. The traditional accompaniments are gremolata, a parsley and lemon relish that provides a welcome counterpoint to so much richness, and golden risotto perfumed with saffron. 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 6 veal shanks, about 6 lb. total, each about 1 inch thick 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped 
  • 1 carrot, diced 
  • 1 celery stalk, diced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine such as Barolo 
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped fresh or canned tomatoes  
  • 5 cups beef broth  
  •   

For the gremolata:

  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 

Directions:

Put the flour in a wide, shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Pat the veal shanks dry with paper towels. Lightly dust the veal shanks with the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

In a large, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, add the shanks to the pan and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the shanks to a plate.

Return the pan to medium heat, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Raise the heat to high and cook until the liquid has thickened and is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, return the veal shanks to the pan, cover and simmer, turning occasionally, for 1 hour. Uncover and cook until the veal is tender, about 30 minutes more.

While the veal cooks, make the gremolata. In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, lemon zest and garlic.

Divide the veal shanks among individual plates. Spoon the pan sauce over the top, sprinkle with the gremolata and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).