Here is one of the most praised dishes a cook can cook. Yep! If you make a good Osso-Buco (which are veal shanks) you will hear many compliments from your guests. Just follow the yellow brick road! Best of all, you can actually make this dish a good 7 to 10 days ahead of time, and it re-heats really well. That means, if you have a dinner party on a Saturday night, you can make it the weekend before, and it will taste just perfect. Trust me. I learned this when I used to work at La Caravelle, back in the late 1990’s and this dish was one of their signatures on the menu. In fact, Osso Buco, like many other stewed recipes, tastes even better a few days after it’s made.
You can serve this dish with a Risotto Milanese (recipe follows), the classic Italian way, or you can serve with a variety of starches like polenta, plain risotto, orzo or basmati rice.
Osso Bucco A la Milanese
Serves 6 people
For the Osso Bucco:
One 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, preferably imported
6 veal shanks, tied firmly with string
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, about ½ cup, for dredging the meat
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme, picked leaves
½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
1½ cup veal or chicken stock (preferably home-made or deli bought, but avoid the boxed product)
For the Risotto Milanese:
4 cups chicken stock (preferably home-made or deli bought)
large pinch saffron thread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 ½ cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley for garnish
- Prepare the Osso-Buco: Center a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat it to 325˚F.
- Cut the tomatoes into pieces and reserve the juices. Set aside.
- Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour, shaking the excess. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch-oven pan or any other large pan over medium heat and cook the veal shanks until they are lightly brown and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and transfer to a bowl. Cover with foil to keep moist.
- Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to turn brown, about 2 minutes. (You might need to add a bit more oil at this point.) Add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until vegetables are soft and tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and juice and continue to cook.
- Add the wine and let it cook and evaporate almost completely.
- Add the chicken or veal stock and bring to a boil. Return the veal shanks to the pan, and fit them all inside, nestling them one close to the other, preferably in one layer. Cover the pan with the lid, and place the pot in the oven. Cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours, checking the liquid level every half an hour, making sure there is plenty of liquid, about half way through the meat should be fine. If need be, add a little. If the meat is falling off the bone—it’s done. If it’s not, return to the oven for another 30 minutes or so.
- When the veal shanks are done, remove from the oven, and let the meat rest inside the pan, off the heat, but with the lid still on for a good 2 to 3 hours (just forget about it and go do something else.)
- You can make this up to 7 days ahead of time, keep in the fridge in a plastic container fitted with a tight lid and reheat the day of serving.
- For the Risotto Milanese: In a medium saucepan bring the stock to a simmer with the saffron threads.
- In another large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir frequently, until the grains are warm, shiny, and coated with the onion mixture, about 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil until the liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add one ladle of simmering stock and allow the rice to cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add another ladle, and repeat the process. Continue adding ladles of stock, only when the previous addition has been completely absorbed. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, 18 to 20 minutes. Don’t let the risotto get too thick; if the rice seems to have absorbed all of the liquid, add another tablespoon or so of stock to achieve the right creamy consistency. Taste the dish, check for flavor and doneness.
- To Serve: Arrange the risotto on the bottom of large warm plates. Place each veal shank on top of the rice, spoon a generous amount of sauce on top and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.