merci buco

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Meat, Grains and Pasta, Veggies and Sides, Dinner Party, Well Equipped, Wine Line, Posted on April 13, 2012 by Sandy Bergsten - Comments (0)

With a momentary chill in the air and foodies on the calendar this might be the last possible weekend to serve up ossobuco. Big note- the following is not for the faint of heart. These braised veal shanks take most of the day to prepare. But while you will spend more hours in the kitchen then out the beauty of these tender cuts is that they can (and should) be made entirely ahead of time. So turn on a movie marathon, get out your cutting board, a good pair of hot mitts and get cooking.

Oss bus literally means hollow bone in the Milanese dialect. This I learned from my “go-to-Italian-girl” Marcella Hazan.

ossobuco

She can make an American of almost any decent appear fluent in the art of Italian cooking. Not only are her recipes easy to follow, she spells out the “why” along with the “how”. In this case the exact cut of meat you will need. This includes requesting the hind (not the front) shank, the exact height (no more than 2 inches because they will not cook properly and if you exceed that requirement your final result will look impressive but be tough), the optimal width (have your butcher saw your shanks from the center of the limb (they will cook more uniformly and have the proper ratio of meat to bone), leave the membrane around each shank intact (so the shanks don’t fall apart with the required turning and this thin tissue is the secret ingredient in yielding a final broth that has an incredibly creamy consistency).

ossobuco 

By now you might have realized you are not going to find what you need in the pre-packaged refrigerated section of your super market. This dish requires that you have an actual conversation with a bona fide butcher. If you haven’t had one recently (or ever) venture out and attempt to make contact. The first and most crucial step in preparing this meal is having a face-to-face with a meat expert. Don’t let the cleavers put you off most in this profession are delighted to help you get exactly what you want.

The second essential component is a heavy enameled casserole with a tight fitting lid. Time to ask your grandmother for her Le Creuset dutch oven. Sorry to report but there is simply no suitable substitute. No proper pan no ossobuco.

ossobuco

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make sure that your heavy casserole or dutch oven with a tight fitting lid can hold your shanks in a single layer (if absolutely necessary two smaller ones can be used- divide vegetable mixture and butter between both and continue).

ossobuco

Heat the butter over medium in the casserole on top of the stove. Add the onion, carrot, celery and sauté for 8-10 minutes until vegetables begin to wilt.

ossobuco

Add the garlic and lemon peel and remove from the heat.

ossobuco

Have your shanks on a platter and your flour in a shallow dish ready to go.

ossobuco

In a separate skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat, when the oil shimmers quickly turn the shanks in the flour one at a time, shake off the excess flour and add the meat to the skillet taking care not to crowd it. The meat should cook at a moderate sizzle.

ossobuco

Brown all sides of the shanks (top, bottom and sides) until golden. Repeat as necessary with the remaining shanks.

ossobuco

Place the browned shanks on top of the vegetables in the casserole.

ossobuco

Spoon off almost all the fat from the skillet. Add the wine and boil, scrapping up the browned bits from the bottom and sides with a wooden spoon.

ossobuco

Pour the reduced wine over the veal in the casserole, 

ossobuco

In the same skillet bring the broth to a boil, then pour over the veal.

ossobuco

Add the chopped tomatoes with their juice along with the thyme, bay leaves, parsley and pepper. The broth should come up to the tops of the veal pieces. If not add more beef stock or broth.

ossobuco

Bring the contents of the casserole to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover tightly and place the casserole in the lower third of the preheated 350 degree oven.

osso buco

Cook for approximately two hours, carefully turning and basting the veal every twenty minutes. (When cooking if there seems not to be enough liquid, add up to 1/3 cup of water)

ossobuco

When the veal is done it should be very tender when pricked with a fork. The sauce should be dense and creamy. (If the sauce seems thin, remove the veal and reduce the sauce over medium heat on top of the stove and reduce to the desired consistency.) Taste the broth and season with pepper and salt if necessary.

ossobuco 

To serve transfer the veal to a warm platter, carefully remove the twine, pour the hot sauce over the veal and serve while piping hot.

Note- The ossobuco can be made earlier in the day and up to two days in advance. Allow to cool uncovered to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate. Before serving preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently reheat on top of stove until sauce is warm. Cover and place in the oven for at least twenty minutes until completely heated through.

ossobuco

Cin cin your efforts with a big glass of Brunello and stay tuned for a duo of Marcella’s sides that complete this compelling meal- sautéed peas with prosciutto and risotto milanese.

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