Osso Buco

Sorry for breaking my promise about posting this week.  Blogger the blog host (sounds like the name of a children's book) made the mistake of performing maintenance mid-week, then proceeded to somehow crash the very next day, tossing everyone's updates from that day, including mine.  It took until Friday afternoon to get back online sans updates, then a few more hours to  restore said updates.  Of course I was mid-updating when the major FAIL! occurred, so I completely lost a *ahem* pulitzer-quality opener to this recipe.  Lost forever ...

Oh, well ... life's tough.  At least it happened before I started to upload photos.  Sometimes uploading photos and tweaking comments can take me an hour (or more if I go all anal with Photoshop). 

Anyway, onto the recreated (less Pulitzer ... more snark!) opener.

Kosher veal shanks have been sold at the local Try-n-Save for years, but last week was the very first time I noticed them sliced into 1-inch-thick pieces labeled as "osso buco" (yes, with one C, dear reader).

Such a romantic-sounding name.  But even "take out the garbage" sounds romantic when said in Italian.

Osso buco is a cross-cut of veal shank.  But where did it get that terrific romantic-sounding Italian name?  Well, according to that great resource of everything Italian, Wikipedia,  "osso buco" literally means "bone hole," referring to the large marrow hole in the center of the bone which takes up much of cross-cutted piece of veal shank. 

I don't know about you, but to me, osso buco sounds MUCH better.  I'll leave the rude snarky comments about the translation to your dirty mind vivid imagination.

The recipe below, borrowed from Food Network, doesn't take a lot of work, but it is not for when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry since the simmering part takes 1 1/2 hours.   so in order to serve this during the week, I cooked it right after a quick pasta dinner (when I had a rare whole evening free) to serve the next day.  reheating didn't hurt the recipe one bit.  And since I can multi-task other chores that popped up anyway during the simmering part, it turned out not to be a big bother.

If you make this, keep in mind that osso buco is mostly "bone hole," so assume 2-3 pieces per person.  

Osso Buco
Adapted from Food Network
Yield: 3-4 servings

1 small onion (or 1/2 large)
1 small carrot or 1/2 large one (give the rest to your dog, they LOVE it!)
1 stalk celery, leaves included (optional)
3 Tbl. fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (for garnish)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
4 pkgs. veal shank slices (about 1 pound per pkg, including bones)
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour (for dredging, approx)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbl. tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock (or one 14-oz. can low-sodium chicken stock)
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
mashed potatoes (enough for your family, optional)

Finely dice the onion, carrot and celery (if using, I didn't).

Coarsely chop or scissor parsley.  Set everything aside.

Look at these lovely cuts of veal!  Notice the huge bones.  If you look closely, you can see the center marrow.   Now you know why I simply had to buy 'em.  When you finish admiring them, pat 'em dry to remove excess moisture which steams, rather than sears, the meat.

Sprinkle both sides of the pieces with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and all the pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess.

Set a wide shallow pot over high heat.  When very hot, add oil, wait 10 seconds, then add veal and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per. They will be browned, but nowhere near cooked through.  The bone hole marrow has also become more visible.  Remove veal to covered dish and reserve.

 Add the onion, carrot and optional celery to the pot. Sprinkle with remaining salt (to help draw out moisture from the vegetables rather than for flavor). Cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent (about 5-8 minutes).

 Stir in tomato paste (which will fight you, so just do the best you can).

Push veggie mixture to the sides, then return browned veal to the pan.  Pour in white wine and simmer to reduce liquid by half (about 3-5 minutes).

Add rosemary sprig and bay leaf along with chicken stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the veal is so tender you can cut it with the side of a fork. Check every 30 minutes, turning veal cuts over as you do.

Keep at a bare simmer to prevent veal from toughening. 

When veal is ready, remove pan from heat.  Divide veal onto 4 plates. Stir lemon juice into cooking liquid, then ladle that liquid (which magically became sauce because I said so) over the veal. Ladle some over mashed potatoes.  Garnish with reserved chopped parsley and serve.  The marrow is very healthy and soft, so have a go at it as well.  Use your fork to scoop it out or (as my father used to do) pick it up and suck out the marrow.