Saturday, April 17, 2010

Osso Buco for Two

Osso Buco has long been a favorite in my family. The dish is Italian in origin and is made from veal shank. Unfortunately, veal shank is very hard to come by where I live. When I spotted it in a Fresh Market recently, I'll admit that the price made me think twice about buying it. I did a little quick rationalizing, though. Two pieces of veal shank would cost less than a nice dinner out for one person. Moments later, I had that special treat wrapped up and on ice for the trip home.

The shank is cut crosswise, so each piece comes with a chunk of bone in it. My mother's favorite recipe for Osso Buco specifies that the shank should be sawed, not chopped. It's not hard to imagine that a farmer might have brought several pieces into the kitchen to be cooked. Most recipes call for six to eight pieces of veal shank. So I had to cut back and tweak to accommodate my little dinner for two.

While it seems like a lot of work, Osso Buco really isn't that all that difficult to make. To me, it seems like it breaks down into four basic steps. Chopping and cooking vegetables, browning the meat, making a sauce, combining and letting it cook in the oven. Not so hard, right? However, it bakes for an hour and fifteen minutes, plus you have to allow for a bit of reduction time, so it's a time intensive recipe, not like throwing steaks on the grill for a quick dinner. I skipped the step of tying the meat. That was very popular years ago, wasn't it? Tying food always brings to mind the blue soup in Bridget Jones's Diary! I just didn't see the point in it, and the meat turned out fine in spite of my little shortcut. The only change I might make is to add a little bit of flour to thicken the sauce if you happen to prefer a thicker sauce.

Osso Buco for Two

1/2 cup onion
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 1/2 tablespoon butter

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 large bay leaf

1 oven-safe casserole with a lid (It shouldn't be much larger than needed to accommodate the two pieces of meat.)

1 frying pan

Step One

Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Melt the butter in the casserole. When the foam subsides, add the veggies and cook until soft.

Step Two

Salt and pepper the meat, and dredge through flour. Heat the olive oil in the frying pan and when very hot, brown the meat on both sides. Remove meat from pan and place on top of vegetables in the casserole.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Step Three

Pour the white wine into the frying pan and deglaze the pan, scraping up any little bits on the bottom. Let the wine cook vigorously until reduced by about half. Add the chicken stock, the tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and pour over the meat in the casserole. It should come about half way up the meat. (If it doesn't, add more stock.)

Step Four

Cover the casserole and slide into the oven. Cook at 350 for one hour and fifteen minutes.

Serve over rice, or, in my case spaetzle. The Spaetzle recipe is coming next week!

Buon Appetito!

Before you fire up the grill --



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  1. Oh, you make it sound so easy! I'm definitely trying this one. Thanks!

  2. Jeanne, it's not hard at all. It's kind of a comfort food, too, in the way a nice warm stew feels good on a blustery day.

    ~ Krista

  3. This looks wonderful, Krista! And I'm with do make it look easy. :) Thanks for the recipe for that special dinner!


    Mystery Writing is Murder

  4. It's been 3 years since I've been in Italy. Your post makes me want to hop a plane right now. That
    dish looks spectacular!


  5. Krista, I posted this as a comment on Facebook, but it probably belongs here. In Italy, butchers cut turkey legs crosswise to make osso buco. If you have access to turkey parts, you might find an obliging butcher cut the legs for you, or you might try it at home with a saw. The meat is not the same as veal, of course, but it is traditionally topped with gremolata, a mixture of garlic, lemon peel, and parsley (Italian, of course). I think this lemony-garlicy mixture makes it difficult to tell the difference, and it is a more economical approach.

  6. Love the idea of spaetzle with Osso Buco! Lovely!

  7. Elizabeth, I think you would enjoy it.

    Aw, Jenn, thanks. But you'd hit that big cloud coming from the volcano. Guess you'll have to stay home and cook Italian food.

    Hi Patricia! Always nice to see you here and on Facebook. I've heard of making it with turkey, but unless one happens to have an Italian butcher, I think it might be hard to get the right cut. I'm having trouble imaging the flavor with turkey, too. I've read that some people are making it with pork. Seems like a different dish to me if it's made with pork, but it sounds appealing.

  8. Avery, it must be the Tyrolean way of eating Osso Buco. They have the best of Austria, Germany and Italy!

    ~ Krista

  9. Wow, what a rich and tasty dish...can you believe that I never made osso buco? After seeing your post...will definitely try it :-)

  10. This has been a family fave of ours for years.
    The cost makes it a holiday dish for us, but it's well worth it. Brava!


  11. Juliana, it's a nice treat. We really enjoyed having it again.

    Cleo, it was expensive. But far less than we would have paid for dinner out at a nice restaurant!

    ~ Krista

  12. Chiming in's been a busy weekend already ... but this is a great recipe and I confess I didn't even know what Osso Buco was until now! Thanks, Krista!