Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Not-so Traditional Osso Bucco

I had a recent request for Osso Bucco, I've never made this before and I'm not totally sure that I've even eaten it, so I had to do a bit of research.  In a nutshell, this is an Italian recipe for braised veal shanks.  I love making braised dishes, they are surprisingly easy and almost all of the work is done hours before serving allowing you to enjoy yourself and throw together any side dishes, and maybe a glass of wine, while your main is cooking away.

From what I read, Osso Buco originated in Milan. The name means “bone with a hole” which is a reference to the veal shank bone and marrow filling which undoubtedly contributes to the flavor of this dish.  The veal shanks are braised with vegetables, white wine, and stock.  Gremolata, a mixture of Italian parsley, zested lemon peel, and garlic is added to the sauce at the end of cooking or used as a garnish.  It is traditionally served over saffron risotto.

I decided to branch out a bit from your typical Osso Bucco, maybe it's just personal preference, but I thought my version was fantastic and so did two hungry mouths at the table.  Originally this dish was not made with tomatoes, but they were a must for me.  I assume the only reason they were not added is that they were undiscovered in Milan at the time.  Instead of white wine, I used a combination of balsamic vinegar, dry sherry, and a splash of brandy to add a bit of tanginess.  I also decided to be easy on myself, skip the risotto, and serve it over mashed potatoes.  I like this rendition as the potatoes soaked up all of that delicious gravy!

I feel like I got the most out of this dish by really concentrating on the layers of flavor.  In any braised dish, rich and savory is easy to achieve, but I loved the added tanginess from the brandy, the hint of balsamic vinegar that gets very syrupy and sweet when it reduces, and the zesty hit of the gremalata when used as a garnish.

Osso Bucco


4 pieces veal shank, bone-in, cut 2 inches thick
all-purpose flour, for dredging
4 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper diced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup brandy
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper

For gremolata:
2 tbsp parsley, minced
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C).  Ensure shanks are completely dry and secure the meat to the bone if desired using cooking string. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour and shake off excess

2. In a Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Brown shanks all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside to be added later.

3. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining olive oil.  Add the carrot onions, celery, peppers, and garlic.  Season and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.

4. Increase heat a bit and add sherry, brandy, and vinegar to deglaze.  Make sure to scrape up any brown bits using a wooden spoon.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by almost half.

5. Tie herbs together and add to pot with diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Mix well and return shanks to pot.  Add broth slowly so that it reaches about 3/4 the height of the shanks.  Add more or less as required. 

6.  Bring to a boil then place in the oven.  Cook for about 1 1/2 hours until tender and pretty much falling off the bone.

7. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for gremolata.

8. Take pot out of the oven, remove the shanks and cover to keep warm.  Heat pot over medium heat to reduce sauce to desired consistency.

9. Serve over mashed potatoes, drizzle with sauce, and garnish with gremolata.  Serve immediately.


  1. This meal was fantastic!

    The meat fell off the bone and was cooked perfectly - and the flavors added beautifully to the potatoes...which I would prefer anyway over risotto.

  2. Thanks John! I am new fan of Osso Bucco! I think I like potatoes as well, you don't want to mask the flavor of anything that features saffron!

  3. That looks like a hearty meal. Great flavors working there. Love the inclusion of the potatoes. Cheers!



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