When I started cooking Osso Buco, it was a sumptuous meal on a beer budget. The Veal Shanks at the center of the dish were afterthoughts at the butcher’s counter. It’s hard to imagine but I think they ran about $4.99 a lb. at most. Andrew is fond of pointing out that I have no concept of how many years ago that was and that in 25 years almost everything is more expensive. But, like fresh tuna, which at one point was practically given away, the huge popularity of this Italian masterpiece has upped its price mightily. Osso Buco means ‘bone with a hole in it’ and it’s gotten to be a very expensive bone. But it’s a triumph of taste—the meat is tender to the bone, the sauce is filled with fresh vegetables stewed to perfection in red wine and tomatoes—even the marrow in the center of the bone is a guilty pleasure. The recipe hails from Lombardy, the region that’s home to Milano, where it is classically served atop risotto. Since risotto needs constant attention until the minute it is served, I use mashed potatoes instead. Because I find Osso Buco is one of the greatest ideas for weeknight dinner parties. We were entertaining my nephew, Michael and his wife, Valery who were here from Canada. Leaving out the risotto meant I could spend all the time I wanted with them and then take all of about 5 minutes to mash the potatoes. Like so many other braised dishes, this one too improves considerably when left a day or three in the fridge. So it’s perfect to make over on a Sunday afternoon to serve later in the week. I’ve published a recipe for Osso Buco before. So why is this one here?
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