Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beef Osso Bucco

In the picture: Beef osso bucco with a reserved marrow bone and some simple risotto.

Every great cooking culture has a dish like osso bucco. Meat slowly cooked in sauce is something that we all have come in contact with at some point. While there are a lot of recipes that use this technique, osso bucco is my favorite by far.

Traditionally, osso bucco is made with a cross cut veal shank, a portion of the calf's leg with the bone sitting in the center. This is the best way to make it, but it makes the recipe nearly inaccessible since veal shanks are hard to find and also very pricey. Beef shanks though, they're cheap and easy to find. I was lucky enough to find some beef shanks cross cut at the store and I just knew I had to make some osso bucco once I saw them.

I should mention that this dish is extremely easy, don't let the name fool you. The taste is amazing for the amount of work you put in. I recommend buying the ingredients the day before and starting this in the morning.

Also, I took a contemporary riff on the traditional sauce by adding leeks, fennel and the herbs. If you want to save a little money, or be a little more traditional you can make this without them.

If you want to have wine with this meal, I suggest any dry Italian red. If you want something special, buy an Amarone from the region Valpolicella. This type of wine goes perfectly with this meaty and saucy dish.

***Do not throw out the marrow in the bones! Eat it, it's the best part in my opinion.

Beef Osso Bucco:
1 cup minced onion
1 cup minced celery
1 cup minced carrot
1/2 cup minced leek, white and pale green parts only (optional)
1/2 cup minced fennel (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic
58 oz ground tomato (preferable Pastene brand)
2 tablespoons minced fresh mixed herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, (optional)
1 cup red wine
4 to 6 lbs cross cut veal shank
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Salt and pepper the shanks heavily, and dredge them in flour, shake off excess.
2. In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Thoroughly brown the meat on both sides in the pot, one at a time.
3. Remove shanks and reserve. Add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel and leeks and saute until browned.
4. Add the tomatoes, wine and herbs and mix well. Place the shanks back into the pot, being sure to cover them fully in the sauce.
5. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for at least four hours, the longer the better. You can also pop this in the oven at 300F, if you have a dutch oven. (Just make sure the top is on the whole time.)
6. When it is done simmering, pull the meat from the sauce and separate it from the bones. You can mix it back into the sauce like I did, or serve the sauce and meat separately.

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