Osso Buco, the Perfect Dinner Party Fare for right now.
What’s wonderful about this delicious entrée is that it only improves with a day or two in the refrigerator. And you just reheat it, mash some potatoes, toss a salad and a truly special dinner is on the table in no time.
Osso Buco used to be one of those undiscovered and unbelievably inexpensive cuts of meat. My dinner guest the other night, Mary Haskin, reminisced that her mother, Easter Cassidy, used to toss the bone unceremoniously into every pot of meat sauce in their Long Island kitchen, so readily available and inexpensive it was. Not anymore. When Osso Buco became so popular in New York that they named a restaurant after it, the price went through the roof. The name translated from Italian literally means ‘bone with a hole in it’. But this has become one expensive bone. At least in some places. I was honestly shocked to see a single veal shank at Fairway priced at over $16.00. That only added to that supreme feeling of accomplishment when I got home to my four veal shanks purchased for a little over $17.00 at, where else, Costco.
It’s likely a good idea to ask your guests how they feel about veal before serving them this. I’m not going to enter into the fray but there are a lot of people who have reservations about the way veal is raised. “Plume de Veau”, the brand Costco sells, is owned by the Atlantic Veal and Lamb Co. and they go to great pains to laud their “total control of animal nutrition and well being”. I will take them at their word.
Osso Buco is a very easy thing to make. You brown the meat, you brown the vegetables, add some wine, some fresh orange juice and some chicken stock. You put that together with the veal in the oven, make a “gremolata”, a citrus and parsley garnish, and that’s it.
In Italy, specifically Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy, where it was invented, Osso Buco frequently sits atop a risotto. But since that defeats our purpose of making dinner party food that lets the cook attend the party, we opt for mashed potatoes. You’re certainly free to cook some rice. But to make a proper risotto, not if you want out of the kitchen.
Here’s my recipe: I like a lot of citrus in the dish. I think it pairs beautifully with the flavor of the veal and complements the vegetables. This is completely expandable. Just double the portions for 8. Above that you may find yourself in need of a second Dutch oven. Recipe for Osso Buco all’Arancia (Osso Buco with Orange) 4 meaty veal shanks, cut 1 1/2 inches thick (7 pounds) Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 3 tbsp. All-purpose flour 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice 1 laarge onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice 3 garlic cloves—2 whole, 1 minced 2 bay leaves ½ cup fresh orange juice (juice of one orange) 1 ½ cups chicken or beef stock or broth (I use a mixture of both) 1 cup dry white wine 1 15-ounce can diced Italian tomatoes The zest of one whole orange 6 thyme sprigs One 1/2-inch strips orange zest, minced One 1/2-inch strips lemon zest, minced 1 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Season the veal shanks with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a plastic zip bag. Put a single veal shank in the bag to coat it in flour. Repeat with the remaining shanks. In a very large, deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Cook the veal over moderately high heat until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes total Transfer the Osso Buco to a Dutch oven. Tuck the orange zest in around the veal shanks.
2. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the diced carrots, celery, onions, 2 whole garlic cloves and the bay leaves and cook over moderate heat until they are softened, about 12 minutes. Add the orange juice, chicken stock, white wine, diced tomatoes and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Pour the vegetables and liquid over the veal, cover the Dutch oven and transfer to the oven. Braise the shanks for about 2 1/2 hours, until very tender. This can be done up to two days in advance. In fact, I recommend it.
3. When it’s time to serve the Osso Buco, reheat it in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. (If it looks like it needs more liquid, add more stock.) 4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the orange zest, lemon zest, parsley and the 1 minced garlic clove. Lightly season the gremolata with salt and pepper. 5. Make the mashed potatoes by peeling and boiling 5 Yukon Gold potatoes for 25 minutes. Drain well, then add an entire stick of butter, a ½ cup of warm milk and mash well. If you want to be good, reduce the amount of butter and use warm chicken stock. Place a helping of potato in the center of each plate. Make a well for the Osso Buco to sit in. 6. Carefully lift the veal shanks from the Dutch Oven onto the plates. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Spoon additional sauce and vegetables on top and sprinkle lightly with the gremolata. Serve with the remaining gremolata at the table. Serves 4.