Osso buco is Italian for ‘bone with a hole’ and refers to cross cut pieces of veal shank, and also the braised veal shank. Those Italians certainly get a lot of mileage from their words. Veal has become much more readily available in Auckland with the mushrooming of gourmet food markets and specialty butchers. I purchased the osso buco from Farro Fresh (Lunn Ave, Mt Wellington), one of my favourite food stores.
I have had a copy of ‘Bones: recipes, history & lore’ by Jennifer McLagan on my shelf for several years now, and this was the perfect opportunity to try out one of the osso buco recipes, though I varied some of the ingredients with what I had on hand.
The recipe is a bit fiddly, but trust me, it tastes amazing. It’s in the oven for 1 ½ hours, so you have lots of time to prepare the accompaniments, – I served this with buttery (and truffle-oiled) mashed potatoes, roasted beetroot and garlicky sautéed beans. This is best cooked in a cast iron pot, as you need to heat it both over a stovetop and in the oven.
Time: 2 ½ hours (preparation and cooking)
4 thick pieces veal shank around 350g each
2 tbsp flour
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar (I substituted with rice vinegar)
1 cup white veal stock (I used beef stock)
1 large fennel bulb with leaves (or two medium ones)
2 medium carrots
1 tsp fennel seeds (I omitted this)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 160°C. Cut the sinew connecting the meat to the bone in two places to prevent the meat from curling during cooking. Tie the meat to hold it together during cooking. Season flour with salt and pepper and dredge the veal shanks in flour.
Heat the oil in a cast iron pot. Brown veal on both sides, then remove. Discard the fat, and add in the beef stock and vinegar. Bring to the boil, deglazing the pot by scrapping the brown bits on the bottom and sides. Remove the pot from heat.
Zest an orange using a vegetable peeler and add to the pot. Return the veal shanks to the pot with the wider end of the bone at the top. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and lid, and braise in the oven for 45 minutes.
While the meat is cooking, cut the feathery leaves off the fennels. Cut the fennel lengthwise, then into slices. Peel and cut the carrots into batons.
When the 45 minutes is up, add the fennel, carrots, orange juice and 1 tsp of salt to the pot. Mix well, and then cook for another 45 – 55 minutes until veal is tender. Zest one orange, juice two oranges, and segment one. Finely chop the fennel leaves and garlic. Mix the fennel leaves, garlic and orange zest, – this is the gremolata to be served with the osso buco.
Remove the veal and vegetables to a serving dish.
Discard the orange peel and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes on high to reduce. Add in orange segments, then season to taste. Spoon the sauce over the veal shanks and vegetables.