Comfort food central! Fall apart tender veal shanks bathed in a tomato white wine sauce, Osso Buco is a traditional Italian dish that’s both hearty and luxurious owing to the delicate flavour and texture of veal.
Traditionally served on yellow saffron Risotto Milanese and topped with a fresh mixture of parsley, lemon and garlic known as Gremolata. But just as delicious piled over mashed potato! This is a slow cooked recipe that belongs alongside greats like Shredded Beef Ragu and Beef Guinness Stew.
“You never have Osso Buco for me!!”, I pouted at my butcher. (“Never” being a bit of an exaggeration, but embellishment sometimes just pours out of me during desperate times.)
“Osso Buco flies out the door during winter,” my butcher declared. “We can’t get enough. You have to order it, or just get in quick when we have a delivery.”
So she who doesn’t rely on luck for food placed an order for Osso Buco immediately. Because I have been busting to share this with you all winter. But I kept stuffing it up – photos then the video, and so finally, after attempt #3, I am armed with all I need to finally publish it!
What is Osso Buco?
Osso Buco is made with veal shanks cut into thick steaks that are then slow cooked in a tomato sauce. Fellow Aussies have probably observed beef “Osso Buco” sold at supermarkets – in fact, beef is more commonly found than veal. At least, during winter.
Though Osso Buco is traditionally made with veal, this really is fab made with beef too. The meat flavour will be stronger because veal has a more delicate, sweeter flavour. But it will still be fabulous – and you will still get that signature sticky bone marrow that so many people like to slurp up or slather on crusty bread. (Not I, doesn’t do it for me, I always give mine away!)
A traditional Italian dish
The makings of Osso Buco are no different to most slow cooked Italian master pieces – brown the meat, then slow cook onion, garlic, carrot and celery which then forms the flavour base for a tomato based sauce. The sauce for Osso Buco is a bit lighter in colour than other slow cooked Italian goodness, like Ragu, because it’s made with white wine rather than red wine.
The one little annoying thing I used to grapple with is that by the time the veal cooked to the point of “fall apart”, it was literally falling apart right off the bone. Still delicious, but I wanted the meat to stay on the bone for presentation purposes.
So I conceded defeat and use string to hold the veal together. However, my one little tip is to do this after browning the meat. Otherwise, the string just comes off while the meat is browning. It’s really annoying.
Then let it bubble away gently for 1.5 – 2 hours (veal is more delicate than beef so you won’t need to cook for longer than this) until the meat is fork tender.
And I truly do mean – fork tender.
But – enough talk about fall apart, slow cooked, meltingly tender veal in a thick, rich tomato sauce! No more talk about how you won’t need a knife to eat this. The weekend is here! It’s Friday and the couch is calling me, there’s a certain giant fur ball is sitting by my side breathing stinky dog breath over me and staring at me intently because “bone time” is 30 minutes overdue.
Happy weekend everyone! – Nagi xx
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Osso Buco recipe video!
- 5 thick veal osso bucco (300 g / 10 oz each, 2.5cm / 1” thick) (or beef, Note 1)
- Salt and pepper
- Kitchen string (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion , finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 small carrot , finely chopped
- 1 celery stick , finely chopped
- 800 g / 28 oz can crushed tomato
- 1 cup / 250 ml dry white wine (not sweet, not fruity), or chicken broth
- 1 cup / 250 ml chicken broth
- 1 chicken bouillon cube (optional, or use beef)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 sprigs thyme or 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup parsley leaves (flat or curly), lightly packed
- 2 – 3 tsp lemon zest , finely grated
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- Risotto Milanese (saffron risotto, recipe in notes), mashed potato or pasta
- Sprinkle both sides of the veal very generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy based pot over high heat. Add beef and sear on both sides so it has a nice brown crust. Remove onto a plate, turn heat down to medium low.
- If the pot is looking dry, add a splash of oil. Add garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute, then add carrot and celery. Cook on low heat for 8 minutes or until it is softened and sweet.
- OPTIONAL: Meanwhile, tie kitchen string around each piece of veal – holds it together for nice presentation (it falls apart once slow cooked).
- Add tomato, wine, broth, bouillon cube (crumbled), tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaves. Mix, then return veal into pot, place lid on.
- Adjust heat so the liquid is simmering gently – about medium low. Cook until tender enough to be pried apart with forks – check at 1.5 hours then every 15 minutes after that.
- Use slotted spoon to remove veal into bowl, cover to keep warm. Simmer liquid on medium for 5 – 15 minutes or until thickened to taste. Adjust salt & pepper at the end.
- Traditionally served with Saffron Risotto (Risotto Milanese, recipe in notes), but is also terrific with mashed potato, creamy polenta or even pasta. Place a piece of Osso Buco on the serving plate, spoon over sauce, then top with Gremolata.
- Place the parsley leaves on a cutting board. Top with garlic and lemon zest. Finely chop the parsley. Transfer to serving bowl and set aside for at least 20 minutes before use.
LIFE OF DOZER
I like to think that when I leave the house, this is the position he assumes, staring forlornly out the window waiting for me to return.
Reality is that he sneaks onto the couch, knowing full well he’s only allowed up when there’s a cover on it. He thinks he’s so clever because I never catch him. But of course I know, he always leaves so much evidence. Giant foot imprints and unimaginable quantities of fur. 🙄