According to my numerous cookery books, 'osso buco' or 'ossi buchi' translated from the Italian to English means 'bones with holes'. However, esteemed food writer, Elizabeth David, wrote in Italian Food: 'Incidentally, I have seen it asserted that ossi buchi means drunken bones.' Either way, this classic Milanese dish is mouth-watering and bone-sucking good.
We are in the depths of winter here in Canberra, where I live. It's bitterly cold and there's even been a dusting of snow in the last couple of days. With this in mind, a slow cooked Osso Buco seems the perfect remedy for bringing warmth to the kitchen and our bellies.
This is my own version of Osso Buco, a recipe that has taken me some twenty-five years or more to perfect. In the making of the gremolata, I prefer to substitute fresh orange zest for the more traditional lemon. That said, lemon is good too! Enjoy.
OSSO BUCO WITH ORANGE GREMOLATA
For my osso buco:
4-6 thick slices veal shank or veal knuckle (3-4cm thick) on marrow bone
1/4 cup plain (AP) flour
freshly ground black pepper
a little sea salt
1 brown onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1-2 sticks baby celery, diced
1-2 fresh bay leaves
a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
2-3 strips orange zest, minus the pith
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup dry white wine
1-2 cups beef or vegetable stock
1 cup tomato passata
For my Gremolata:
freshly shredded zest of a large orange
2 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped
Combine the flour, freshly ground pepper and salt in a bowl or a freezer bag. Dust the veal slices lightly with the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Set the meat aside briefly.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and saute the onion, carrot and celery until just tender. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon into a bowl and set them aside. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed, then brown the veal thoroughly on both sides. This is particularly important. Remove the veal to a warm plate and set it aside briefly.
Add the wine to the pan, deglazing the pan quickly with a wooden spatula or spoon. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the stock and the passata, and return the veal, the vegetables and any juices to the pan, along with the bay leaves, lemon thyme and orange strips. Season with a little more sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Lower the heat, cover the pan with a tightly-fitting lid and simmer the Osso buco slowly for one and a half hours, until the veal is melt-in-the-mouth tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced. Combine the gremolata ingredients and sprinkle over the veal during the last two to three minutes of cooking. Serve Osso buco with a saffron risotto, polenta or al dente pasta. Serves 3-4.
Tell me dear readers, do you enjoy Osso buco? Perhaps you have eaten it in Italy during your travels? Do you enjoy the marrow? Do tell.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.