If I told you I just made a classic Milanese dish that costs $38 at one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Boston for only about $5, you'd start listening, right? I was so surprised how easy it was to make a classic Milanese Osso Bucco. Admitted, it does take quite a bit of chopping and a lot of time. The more time, the better, as the long braising period really softens the meat until it truly becomes fall-off-the-bone tender.
Osso bucco in Italian literally means "hollow bone." The bone and its marrow are what makes this dish unique. The shank is cut in a way that the bone marrow is exposed, and thus can permeate the soup, making it extremely flavorful. This relative inexpensive cut of meat (I paid $16 for 4 shanks at Costco) contains quite a bit of connective tissue, which is why it needs to be cooked for long periods of time before it is really enjoyable.
I served this to a group of guests this past week and they loved it. It's a great dish for entertaining on a weeknight because you can make most of it the night before and then just heat it up right before serving. I bet this works great in a crock pot too!
More importantly, as long as you have the basics: veal shanks, mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery), broth, some sort of wine, some herbs (e.g., bay leaf, rosemary, thyme) and long cooking time over low heat, you'll be all set.
I'm really surprised at how flavorful this dish was and how nice it made the house smell! I think the marrow makes a big difference, as it probably gets in the soup and flavors it even more. Make sure to suck out the marrow while you're eating this dish - it's one of best parts!
Milanese Veal Osso Bucco
Adapted from Tyler Florence
4 pieces veal shank with bone, cut 2 inches thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup dry Marsala or dry white wine
1 T tomato paste (optional)
2 cups chicken stock (or enough to cover the shanks in the pan)
3 vine-ripen tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (optional)
Make sure to use a saute pan big enough to comfortably fit all the shanks because you will be stewing them in the pan later.
Over medium-high heat sear all sides of the veal shanks in 1 T oil + 1 T butter. Set aside the veal shanks. Add remaining butter and oil and add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley and cook until softened (~5-10 minutes). Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add wine, turn up the heat, and deglaze the pan. Add the shanks back in, and pour in the chicken broth and the chopped tomatoes. Make sure that the entire shank is covered (or at least mostly covered) in liquid. After bringing the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is super soft. Check every so often (I checked once and hour) and baste the shank. You can try flipping it over too, but towards the end it will get so soft that you might risk the shank falling apart if you are not careful.
At the end of the two hours, cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or so to reduce some of the broth.
Serve over risotto, rice, or pasta with gremolata on top.
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