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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Osso bucco

We're rapidly approaching summer but occasional wet days like today are a good excuse to indulge in the last of the stodgy comfort food so relished in winter.

Osso bucco is comfort food at its finest. A cheap cut of meat cooked on the bone until meltingly tender, the highlight for me is the bonus dessert of marrow - rich and fatty but delicious.

This is a low-maintenance recipe - once you've seared the meat, you simply cook on low in the oven for several hours whilst you read the paper or lounge around in front of the telly. My kinda cooking! I've also successfully prepared this for a weeknight dinner party - simply cook the osso bucco the night before for 1 1/2 hours, refrigerate overnight, then return it to the oven as soon as you get home, giving you an hour-and-a-half to get dressed, welcome your guests, then serve drinks and appetisers before dinner is served!

Ossco Bucco
(serves 4)

3 medium carrots
3 sticks of celery
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
1/4 oil for pan-frying
1/2 cup cornflour
8 small veal shanks (about 1.5kg)
800g tinned tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves

zest of 2 large lemons
1/2 cup parsley

Dice the carrots, celery and onion into similar sized chunks. Finely chop the garlic. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and add vegetables and garlic, stirring until just cooked. Transfer to a deep casserole dish or roasting tray.

Lightly dust the veal shanks with the cornflour. If there is a lot of skin on the shank, score it deeply in a few sections with a knife so it won't pucker when it cooks. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan and then seal both sides of each shank until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pan otherwise the meat will steam. Transfer each shank on top of the vegetables.

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the tomatoes, beef stock, red wine, balsamic, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to the boil then simmer for about five minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper then pour the sauce over the shanks and vegetables. The liquid should just cover the meat but still be an inch from the top of the dish. Adjust if necessary and place a tray on the rack below if you think the liquid may overflow whilst its cooking (noone likes to clean a dirty oven!).

Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil and bake at 140C for about 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours or until tender. Check on the veal regularly, topping up with liquid (water or stock) if necessary.

To make the gremolata, finely chop the lemon zest and parsley.

Serve the osso bucco topped with the gremolata which adds a refreshing zing and helps to cut through the richness of the meat.

I had sides of soft polenta mixed through with parmesan and a mound of wilted spinach but this could also be served with mashed potato and peas or whatever takes your fancy.

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6 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/15/2008 12:05:00 am


  • At 10/15/2008 11:27 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    sounds great. i'll have to try and cook it. always wondered how to best cook it. yum yum
    S :-)

  • At 10/15/2008 3:40 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    This is great, particularly your handy tips on scoring the skin and not overcrowding. Thanks Helen.

  • At 10/15/2008 5:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh Yumm^^! I love bone marrooww and your Osso Bucco looks really really good. Hunngryyyy haha

  • At 10/15/2008 11:54 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon - We seem to be having a spate of cool weather so it might be your last chance to have osso bucco before the humid swelter of summer hits :)

    I've seen recipes to cook it in crockpots and on the stove, but the oven is so much easier :)

    Hi Richard - I've also heard that some people tie the shanks to the bone with string, but I think this is only relevant if you plan to cook it in a crockpot or pot.

    Hi ffichiban - The bone marrow is definitely the best bit. I can't understand people who throw it away!

  • At 10/16/2008 11:14 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    They throw it away? What a waste, not to mention uncultured! They obviously wouldn't know what to do with a marrow spoon.

  • At 10/19/2008 10:54 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Richard I know! Sacrilege! I've often thought about investing in a marrow spoon, but usually end up using a chopstick instead :)


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