Ossobuco comes from Milan, and is typically served with Risotto alla Milanese. It literally means ‘hole in a bone’ referring to the veal shanks used in it. I heard some call it a ‘winter dish’ because it’s a bit heavy. Personally, though, I make it the whole year around, normally for Sunday late lunch. This is because it takes at least two hours for the meat to cook.
You can, of course, use a pressure cooker, and it will be quicker. I just feel that slow cooking it is part of the whole process of enjoying ossobuco.
I remember the first time I had it in Milan. It was slightly overwhelming because there was this huge chunk of meat (with the bone) sitting on top of the risotto. The sauce for the ossobuco slowly mixing with the risotto, and I was not sure how to eat it ;-). Curiosity won over hesitation, and the rest was history. 🙂
When cooked properly, the meat just falls off the bone, and it feels as if it’s melting in your mouth. The subtle hint of saffron coming from the risotto adds to the complexity of every bite. Once you finish this dish though, you might decide to skip dessert (or NOT!).
I have tried using oxtail a couple of times instead of veal shanks, and it was still a good substitute. If you don’t want to have Risotto alla Milanese with it, plain bread would be great as well. It’s even better for cleaning up the plate ;-). Hey, I do this too! (Even if I am already having risotto with ossobuco :-))
* For making Risotto alla Milanese, please see my post Risotto Alla Milanese.
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- 4 pieces 12-ounce veal shanks
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 medium carrots (or 1 large carrot) peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 5 to 7 cloves garlic finely sliced
- 1 cup dry wine
- 4 cups veal stock
- 1 can chopped tomatoes (14 ounces or 400 grams)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- Heat up the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rinse and dry the veal shanks. Season with salt and pepper, and then dust with some flour. (I normally shake the veal shanks to get rid of too much flour).
- Heat a large ovenproof pan (or Dutch oven) over high heat. Pour the oil in the pan and put the floured meat once the oil is ready. Do not overcrowd the pan. Fry the meat in batches if they are too close to each other.
- Once the meat is all browned, take them out of the pan and put them aside.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the carrots, onion, celery and onion to the pan. Keep stirring and cook for around 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and use it to deglaze the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the wine has been reduced.
- Add the stock, tomatoes, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf to the pan. Return the veal shanks to the pan and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil.
- Once the liquid boils, transfer the pan to the oven, with the lid on. Cook for at least 2 hours or until the meat is (literally) falling off the bones.
- Once the meat is ready, remove the herbs from the pan and start serving. Garnish with some lemon zest and chopped parsley.
- Tying the veal shanks protects the meat from falling off while it cooks. If you decide to do this, you must tie the meat before frying it. Do NOT forget to remove the string before serving.
- Some prefer to reduce the sauce after taking them out of the oven. They do this by removing the meat and the vegetables from the braising liquid, and then putting it back in once the liquid has reduced. I normally do not do this because I use whatever is left of the braising liquid as spaghetti sauce the following day (YUM!).
- Adapted from "Osteria: Hearty Italian Fare from Rick Tramonto's Kitchen" by Rick Tramonto.