For a prime example of rustic Italian cooking, look no further than osso buco. These braised shanks of veal originated in the 19th century as a farmhouse dish in Italy, and has since become a staple at many Italian restaurants. The flavor in this dish comes not only from what you braise the meat in, but from the marrow in the bone that slowly extracts itself into the sauce.
When crafting the recipe, we wanted to really fill the dish with as many complex flavors as possible. While many recipes called for using olive oil, we instead found one that called for an interesting substitution: pancetta. This substitution added a wonderful extra dimension to the osso buco while still maintaining its Italian roots. Another important note is to make sure the meat and the bone stay attached curing the simmering and browning process. To assure this, tie a piece of twine around the thickest portion of each shank before it's browned. If cooking with veal doesn't sound appetizing to you, substitute the veal shanks with two whole, skinless turkey legs cut at the joints into drumsticks and thighs. Keep reading below for this delicious recipe...
- 1/4lb pancetta, diced into 1/4" cubes (don't substitute bacon. Stick with pancetta, or instead use 2 tablespoons vegetable oil)
- 3lbs veal shanks (about 6 pieces 2-3" thick)
- flour for dredging the meat
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Set a Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat for about 5 minutes with nothing inside.
- Add the pancetta to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally. Once the pancetta is crispy and most of the fat has rendered (about 5 minutes), remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels and let drain. Set aside. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of fat from the Dutch oven and set aside, leaving the rest in the pot.
- Pat the shanks dry, then season the well with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal in flour, shake off any excess, then add the meat to the hot Dutch Oven. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until each side is well browned (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the shanks to a large bowl and set aside.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add 1/2 cup of wine to the Dutch oven, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Pour the liquid into a bowl with the shanks. Add the reserved pancetta fat back into the Dutch oven and set back over the heat.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the dutch oven. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes) and toss in the garlic and thyme. Continue cooking until the vegetables just begin to brown (about 10 minutes).
- Add the shanks (with the liquid from the bowl) and the pancetta back into the pan. Add the bay leaves, diced tomatoes, and wine. Add enough chicken broth so the liquid only just covers the shanks. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer with the lid slightly ajar. Once at a simmer, place the pot in the oven and cook until the meat is easily pierced with a fork, but not falling off the bone (about 2 hours).
- Just before the veal has finished cooking, prepared the gremolata. Combine the garlic, lemon zest, and parley in a small bowl. Once the veal is done, stir half of the fremolata into the Dutch oven, reserving the rest for garnish. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then let the osso buco stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Make sure to cut off and discard the twine before serving.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking