Continuing his enthusiasm for great veal dishes DonQui offers his take on the classic north Italian osso bucco. Originating from Milan, osso bucco translates roughly as ‘bone with a hole’ which is probably why it is never translated on menus.
Osso bucco is made from thick slices taken from across a calf shank with the bone in the centre filled with delicious marrow. This dish is all about the sauce and the marrow. It is frequently served in restaurants in a tomato based sauce and the first time DonQui tried osso bucco it was served this way. The classic version, however, is cooked in a white wine reduction without tomatoes and DonQui resolves to try such a version.
For once DonQui takes notice of the quantity he uses in his recipe, although his measurements are typically quite approximate. He is making this just for himself so the measurements are for one person. This should make the mathematics of scaling it up for several people relatively easy — even for someone as numerically challenged as DonQui.
1 slice of veal shin. If you ask a good butcher for osso bucco he should know what you mean.
a tablespoon of flour seasoned with salt and ground white pepper for dusting the meat
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1/2 a celery stick, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
a handful of mushroom stalks, skins or bits finely chopped (optional)
a few chunks of pancetta or speck (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil and a knob of unsalted butter for frying
zest of one lemon
4 sage leaves
150ml dry white wine
150ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons of cornflour mixed with a little water for thickening the sauce (optional)
salt to taste.
Pat dry the meat and dredge it with the seasoned flour
Brown the pancetta or speck in a little of the oil then take out and set aside. This will add a bit of a smokey taste to the sauce which is not absolutely necessary and not part of a classic recipe but DonQui likes it.
Add more oil and brown the meat on both sides over medium-high heat in a heavy bottomed pan or casserole. Then take it out and set to one side.
Add the butter along with the chopped onion, celery, mushrooms and one of the chopped carrots, reserving the second carrot for later. Cook together over a medium heat until the vegetables soften, reduce and begin to colour. Then add a sprinkle of salt, the sage and the lemon zest.
The mushroom bits are not essential but as DonQui has some leftovers in the fridge he decides to use them to give added depth to the sauce.
Turn up the heat, add the white wine and let it reduce by about half.
Place the meat on top of the vegetables, add the stock, bring it to the boil. Then cover and let it simmer very gently over a low heat for one and a half to two hours. Check progress and gently turn the meat every 30 minutes or so until the meat is very tender.
Up to this point you can do everything in advance, leaving it off the heat to finish the final steps later.
Ten to 15 minutes before serving, gently take the meat out of the sauce and place to one side. Then strain the sauce and discard the vegetables. This is not an essential step and a classic recipe will not call for it. DonQui, however, is not keen on vegetables which have been cooked for a couple of hours. They have done their job by imparting their flavour to the sauce.
Put the meat and the strained sauce back into the pan along with the second chopped carrot. Bring it all back up to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the new carrot bits are cooked but still retain a little crunch (this is how DonQui likes them!).
Taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt or pepper if you think the sauce needs it. You might also wish to considering it reduce a little more uncovered. Then, if you prefer a slightly thickened sauce, add the cornflour/water mixture and bring back up to just boiling so that it thickens.
Traditionally Italians tend to eat a meat course on its own without any accompaniment but DonQui likes to serve it with pasta or, perhaps, a saffron risotto. He spoons the carrots with some of the sauce on top of the meat with a sprinkling of gremolata on top and the remaining sauce on the side.
Gremolata is simply a mix of chopped parsley, finely chopped garlic and lemon zest with a bit of salt.
DonQui thinks this version of osso bucco vastly superior to one cooked in a tomato base. Done this way the delicious flavour of the slow cooked veal shin comes through. Adding tomatoes tends to overpower it in his opinion.