Wherever we travel, we always, ALWAYS order native, traditional and local specialties!
One of the most infamous and delicious recipes from Milan, is Osso Buco.
During our visit to this beautiful northern Italian city, I enjoyed Osso buco (which means “bone with a hole”, osso: bone, buco: hole), the name references the marrow hole at the centre of a veal shank. This delicious Milanese speciality is a slow braising of veal shanks with vegetables in a rich sauce. It is often garnished with gremolata and served with Risotto alla Milanese. You can also serve it with polenta if you wish.
Although we can order Osso Buco in many nice restaurants in the States now and despite being able to prepare it at home, it’s always fun to try it directly from the source of creation, in this most recent occasion, in Milan.
We love Osso Buco so much that for our daughter’s wedding reception we served it at the rehearsal dinner to over 40 guests! The chef at our local restaurant, where we held the dinner, is a master at preparing this entree.
Oh, Oh, OH OSSO BUCO!!!
Food for the gods, indeed!
The rich flavor of this recipe results from several easy steps in the preparation: first of all, a low and slow braise is necessary to sear the veal shanks in order to seal in the flavor of the meat. Secondly, the braised shanks bathe in an unforgettable rich sauce of tomatoes, wine and vegetables for several hours until all the flavors marry and the meat just falls away from the bone. Third, don’t forget to pat the shanks dry with a paper towel so that the braising process produces lots of caramelization. Fourth, the garlic, rosemary and thyme create an unsurpassed depth of flavor.
Why is Osso Buco so popular?
Coming from its origin in Lombardy, the recipe is made throughout Italy and became very popular due to the ease in preparation and low cost for families wanting a satisfying, hearty, and yet delicious meal. Served with risotto or polenta, Osso Buco was originally a seasonal dish of winter and prepared on charcoal or wood stoves, which in the past, also warmed up the home. However, a major reason for Osso Buco’s worldwide popularity was a result of the recipe’s inclusion in many classic cookbooks that were published outside of Italy.
I hope that you enjoy this wonderful Milanese specialty!
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- 2 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried thyme
- 1 dry bay leaf
- 3 - 6 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flour, for coating the veal shanks
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped into 1/4 or 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 carrots, chopped into 1/4 or 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 stalks of celery, including all of the leaves, chopped into 1/4 or 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 - 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups chicken stock
- Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 - 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- Place the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and garlic cloves into cheesecloth and secure with twine (this is the bouquet garni).
- Pat dry the veal shanks with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Veal shanks will brown better when they are dry.
- Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine.
- Sprinkle veal with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.
- In a large, deep pot, heat olive oil; do not burn.
- Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove browned shanks and set aside.
- In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery.
- Season with salt at this point to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables.
- Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and mix well.
- Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes.
- Add the bouquet garni and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1-1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.
- Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary.
- The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.
- Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place on a serving platter.
- Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.
- Remove and discard bouquet garni from the pot.
- Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.