Often times during the busy holiday season we don't get to really appreciate the time we have with the loved ones around us. With Christmas parties, school functions, and work we become inundated with the hustle and bustle. By the time dinner rolls around we grab whatever is most convenient. Im here to tell you, you deserve more. Pull up a chair and enjoy some Osso Buco. It sounds a lot fancier than it really is. It is basically braised veal shanks, but if restaurants called it that on the menu I doubt anyone would order it.
Im not sure if this is a traditional version of the dish, since I myself have never had a traditional version. I concocted this recipe about a year ago at the request of a friend. She was moving away after living in Hawaii for over 50 years. It was her favorite dish and I was determined to make it. Now she wasn't Italian but she had been married to a true blooded Italian with his true blooded aunties, sisters, mom, and Nonna. She had spoke fondly of their amazing cooking and Osso Buco had been her favorite dish they had made. They had all long since passed and the recipe had never been shared.
Now if you knew my friend, you would know she is the type of person that watches over every move you make in the kitchen. She would always tell me I am doing it wrong. When I would argue back she would say, "Never you mind, just do what I say." So the day of her party I sent her golfing with her other friends one last time. I started chopping the onions and garlic and giggling to myself because I was half expecting to hear her complaining behind me. When she arrived home she immediately descended upon the kitchen to inspect my handy work. Luckily I had perfectly timed it and it was coming out of the oven. As I continued to make the sauce she watched carefully but said nothing. She just observed. I cut a little piece and sprinkled a little of the parsley and lemon zest and gave it to her to try. She quickly took a bite and her entire demeanor changed. She started to cry and told me that it was exactly like she remembered. She said Mister would have loved it. I quickly finished the risotto (at least as quickly as you can make risotto) and started setting up for the party. Her farewell party had been the happiest I had seen her in a while. Sad that she was leaving but happy that she felt Mister was with her that night, at least in the essence of the food.
I know it might be a lofty claim for a dish I pieced together but everyone has memories associated with food. So I encourage you to treat yourself and your loved ones one night to a special meal. I know you think 2 hours for one dinner seems like a lot of effort but it's really simple once all the prep work is done. The hard part is waiting.
Are there any recipes out that your family lost in time? Spent years trying to recreate it? Please share below.
1 cup chopped sweet onion or round onion
½ cup of chopped celery stems
½ cup chopped carrots, cleaned and peeled
4 cloves of garlic minced
¼ cup of diced UNCURED pancetta
3 medium to large size veal shanks about 2.5 pounds
½ cup of red wine
1 tablespoon of beef base
2 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar
1 cup of beef broth (best quality equals best results)
1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme off the stems
1 sprig of fresh rosemary – taken off the stem and chopped
3 bay leaves
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons of olive oil.
3 tablespoons of minced fresh flat leaf parsley
4 tablespoons of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons of French butter, or salted butter
zest from 1 whole lemon
1. Using a large heavy bottom pan. Place the olive oil in the pan and turn to medium high heat. Take the three shanks and using kitchen twine tie a tight knot around the shanks to keep their shape while cooking. Generously cover with salt and fresh cracked black pepper and roll in flour. Turn the pan up to high heat and place shanks inside. Get a nice golden brown color on all sides of the shanks.
2. Turn down heat to a medium high and place shanks in a deep casserole or Dutch oven if you have one. The thicker the ceramic or glass or cast-iron the better. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Into the same pan you pulled the shanks from place the pancetta, onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Sautee until the onions start to become a little translucent. Add the wine, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, basil, beef broth, beef base and rosemary. Bring to a slight boil while stirring. Turn off heat and pour carefully into the dish with the shanks.
5. Cover with lid if using a Dutch oven or good quality roaster. If not using a heavy duty foil cover dish tightly. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. On occasion I have left it in 2 hours because I really like it to shred easily with a fork but my family does not.
6. Pick your serving plate and place your shanks gently on it and carefully cut the twine off.
7. Using a sieve and a glass measuring cup pour the broth into the sieve and place the vegetables around the shanks. Cover and set somewhere to keep warm.
8. Turn on your saucepan and place butter inside and turn to medium high heat. When melted stir in flour until it becomes a thick paste. Cook for a few more minutes. Then pour in broth. Constantly stir until it begins to thicken.
9. Turn down low and keep on simmer.
10. In a small bowl mix together lemon zest of minced parsley.
11. Before serving cover with sauce and sprinkle lemon parsley mixture generously on top.