Ben offhandedly expressed a desire to try braising beef shanks, so last Saturday we picked up four beef shanks (aka veal shanks, aka beef 'soup bone') from Eastern River Cattle Co at the Brunswick Winter Market. I used a recipe from convivial.org (link to recipe), which I have copied below and to which I have added some notes (in italics). This turned out fabulously, and it was a great way to use up some of our storage vegetables (I doubled the quantity of veggies in the recipe, and could possibly have tripled it.) I made a simple white wine and onion risotto to go with the Osso Buco since I did not have the saffron to make Risotto alla Milanese. Between the Osso Buco and Risotto I used an entire bottle of wine, so beware!
Ossobuco in Bianco alla Milanese with Gremolata (convivial.org)
4 veal shanks, about a pound each
kosher salt & pepper
3 tablespoons. extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 small onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 medium celeriac, diced
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms (optional - I omitted them)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (I used 1 tbsp dried thyme)
3 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken or beef stock (I used 2 cups veggie stock)
Gremolata for garnish, recipe follows
Season veal with salt and pepper. Heat saute pan over medium heat; pour in oil. Saute veal shanks on each side until golden brown; remove from pan and set aside. Discard any excess fat remaining in pan. Return pan to stovetop and melt butter. Add vegetables, thyme and bay leaf; saute until vegetables are soft and golden. Add allspice and cinnamon; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Deglaze pan with wine; slowly reduce until liquid is almost evaporated. Pour in stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, place veal in simmering stock, cover tightly and continue to cook over low heat or in 300° oven until meat is tender and falls off the bone with little resistance, about 2 1/2 hours. (I left it for 2 hours in the oven and did the last 15-20 minutes on the stove, testing the meat to see whether it came off the bone easily, and trying little bites of it, of course! It was meltingly tender. It could probably have stayed in the oven a little longer so that more of the collagen could dissolve, but I was afraid of overcooking it.)
Side Note: the proper amount of braising liquid should come about halfway up the sides of veal; if the veal is nearly immersed, remove it from the pan and simmer the liquid until it’s reduced to the correct volume.
Side Side Note: Braising liquid should barely simmer throughout the entire cooking process, so check it often and adjust the stove or oven temperature. If it boils hard, the meat will be very dry and no amount of liquid added to it will save your guests from choking it down.
Remove veal from braising liquid and set aside. At this point, liquid can be strained of vegetables and herbs for a more refined dish if desired. (I did not strain, but it was still sublime.) On stovetop over medium-high heat bring braising liquid to a boil. Reduce to the desired consistency and season to taste with salt, pepper, or a little red wine vinegar or lemon juice. Place veal back into pan, sprinkle gremolata over the dish and serve with Risotto alla Milanese.
Side Note 3: Braised meats and sauces freeze beautifully – either together (you know, stew) or separately.
1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Combine ingredients and sprinkle over osso buco.