Veal Osso Buco or “Awesome Buco” as it is called in our house, is probably one of our favorite meals of all time.❤ It is saucy and hearty and the meat is all fall-aparty. There is really nothing like it. For us it’s kind of a special meal so we usually serve it for Christmas, Easter or New Year’s dinner. Or just because we are totally craving it. The dish is traditionally made with veal but this year I used veal and beef for the recipe and I’ve heard of some people even using pork or lamb.
Osso buco is an Italian dish and means “hole in the bone,” referring to the marrow hole in the center of the veal shank bone. The cut of meat that is traditionally used for the dish comes from the top of the shin, which is cross-cut in about one-inch thick slices. It’s a classic Milanese dish usually made with veal shanks cooked in a rich broth that includes tomato and wine. YUM!!!! It’s usually finished with lemon zest and parsley and served over creamy risotto. This year we switched it up a bit and made cheesy Parmesan Polenta to go with ours… and it was delectable!
We made a trip to the grocery store on Christmas Eve to do our meal shopping, which I totally don’t recommend. But when your schedule is tight, a girl’s gotta’ do what a girl’s gotta’ do. I literally ran to the meat section (in slow motion dodging way too many people and shopping carts… ’cause apparently that’s when America does their holiday grocery shopping!) searching and scouring all shanks, cutlets and chops for veal osso buco. Then there it was, one pack of two slices… I continued to search but that was all I could find. I really needed at least 5-6 cuts of meat; anything less and I would just be torturing myself with only indulging in this heavenly dish once. Umm no thank you – that would just be criminal.
Back to the searching and scouring and getting bumped around by shopping carts like I was in a pinball machine. I was focused, determined and on a mission – and it was called – OSSO BUCO. My head was in the grocery game and I came to rumble – so bring it mom of 5 with 2 shopping carts (one full of wine and beer)! I totally get it – not judging. But I will fight you for my meat! Just kidding/not kidding.
Back to finding the glorious and elusive osso buco – I asked the B man to navigate his way through the sea of shoppers over to the butcher counter and see if they had anymore veal in stock. Also, instructing him that if plan A didn’t work, plan B would be to ask for “Beef shins” – something I had recently seen in the meat department that looked like the exact same cut of meat but was beef instead of veal. Oh and a small but important detail – it costs half the price! Ain’t nothing wrong with that!! Much to my disappointment the veal osso buco was completely out of stock BUT the more cost effective beef shins happened to be available!? Phew!! Plan B was now in effect. (I need to interrupt myself for a quick minute with a word of advice: If you don’t see the specific meat you’re looking for, go to the butcher counter and ask them it they have any more. Chances are they do, it’s just not been restocked – if you don’t ask you don’t get. The end.)
Fast forward to Christmas day. I chopped my onions, celery and carrots, minced my garlic and prepped my meat. I found it interesting that the veal was lighter in color than the beef but that was the only real visible difference between the two. I browned them on the stove in batches, deglazing the pan with white wine in between just like recipe said. I sautéed the veggies and added more wine, chicken stock and spices to the dutch oven. Then into the oven for the braising extravaganza!! 90 minutes later, from the oven appeared the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. Can you hear Jeff Buckley singing “Hallelujah, hallelujah…” It was beautiful and magical and I was elated!✨✨
The B man quickly jumped into action to get the cheesy Parmesan Polenta whipped up. It takes less than 10 minutes to make so you really want to wait and make it when you’re almost ready to eat. You want to serve polenta warm… cold polenta is like cold oatmeal – no thank you. We use chicken stock in our polenta so it’s packed with flavor, and then there’s the addition of 2/3 cup of Parmesan, which takes it up and over the top!
This year’s creamy Parmesan Polenta, Arugula Salad and Veal/Beef Osso Buco was an incredibly divine combination. If you’re seeking to make a special meal for New Year’s, or just try something super yummy and a little different – your search is over!!! Osso Buco is guaranteed to be a gift and meal all in one!! Andiamo mio amico!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!2⃣0⃣1⃣6⃣
Veal shank slow-braised and finished with lemon zest and parsley, Served over creamy risotto!
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 veal shanks, 1 1/2 inch thick
- 2 1/2 cups white wine (I use Chardonnay)
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 carrots, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
- 2 small bay leaves
- 14.5 ounces canned tomatoes, drained
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
- Set oven rack to lower-middle and heat oven to 325 F.
- Pat dry each veal shank and tie around its center with kitchen twine, then season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until the oil is shimmering. Place 3 shanks in the pan and cook until they are golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the shanks and cook on the second side until golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and set aside.
- Take the Dutch oven off the heat and add 1/2 cup of white wine, scraping the pan bottom to loosen any browned bits. Pour this liquid into the bowl with the browned shanks.
- Return the Dutch oven to heat, and 2 more tablespoons oil, and repeat this entire process with the next 3 shanks.
- With all shanks resting in a bowl off the heat, return the Dutch oven to heat, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil and bring up to medium-high heat again. Then add the carrots, onions and celery and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute longer.
- Increase the heat to high and stir in the chicken broth, the rest of the white wine, any juice from the veal bowl, and the bay leaves. Then add the tomatoes and return the veal to the pot. Bring the this to a full simmer, then cover, crack the lid slightly, and move to the preheated oven.
- Cook the shanks until the meat is easily pierced with a fork, about 90 to 100 minutes.
- Combine the garlic, lemon zest, and parsley in a small bowl.
- Stir half of the gremolata into the pot, reserving the rest for a garnish.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove shanks from the Dutch oven and carefully cut off the twine
- Place each shank on a bed of polenta or risotto (if using), or directly into a serving bowl or plate.
- Add some of the braising liquid, tomatoes, and vegetables and finish by sprinkling with the gremolata.
I usually tie my shanks with kitchen twine - and it almost always comes off while I'm braising them. Don't be surprised if this happens to you. Just remove it from the pan and keep on stepping!