Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Osso Bucu with Risotto Milanese

Osso Buco is an Italian specialty of veal shanks braised, usually in a white wine, and traditionally garnished with gremolata and served with a Risotto Milanese.

There are 2 types of Osso Buco. A modern version served with tomatoes, carrots, celery and onions and the original version which does not include the vegetables other than onion. The recipe I'm sharing here is the original version.

The name Ossobuco or Osso Buco is Italian
for "bone with a hole" (osso bone, buco hole), a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank.

This recipe comes from the book "Lucinda's Rustic Italian Kitchen" by Lucinda Scala Quinn, and was featured on her television show "Mad Hungry".

Recently celebrating my 41st birthday, I wanted to make this as a special birthday dinner for myself.

First step I did was to make the gremolata which is a simple garnish to sprinkle on top of the finished dish.

For this, you combine 3 tablespoons of finely minced Italian Flat-leaf parsley, 1-1/2 tablespoons each of minced lemon and orange zest, (If you have a Microplane zester, this step is easily done just by "zesting" the fruit), and 3 cloves of garlic, minced. Combine this all in a small bowl and set aside.

The dish's primary ingredient, veal shank, is a common, relatively cheap and flavorful cut. Although tough, braising makes it tender. The cut traditionally used for this dish comes from the top of the thigh which has a higher proportion of meat to bone.
Now, when I decided to make this dish, I never realized how hard, almost impossible, it is to find veal shanks in my area. I live in one of the largest cities in Michigan, just outside of Detroit, and I looked for veal shanks in several butcher shops and high-end markets, I even checked out many of the large meat purveyors in Detroit's Eastern Market, including a few slaughter houses (I was sided by side with skinned cows hanging from meat hooks in giant walk-in coolers), and could not find veal shanks to save my life!
I was to the point where I was about to give up on making this dish, but I didn't. It took me a couple more days, but finally located veal shanks at a large produce market, less than 10 minutes from my house, go figure.

You'll need 6 shanks for this recipe. First lay them out and season them on both sides with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Next, lightly coat them, in a fine all-purpose flour such as "Wondra" flour, shake off the excess.

Heat a large heavy-bottom pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter to the pan and swirl them around. Add the shanks and cook for about 3 minutes per side.

Cook the shanks until they are nicely browned on both sides.

Add 2-1/2 cups of a good quality Italian white wine, such as Pinot Grigio and stir it occasionally to de-glaze and loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the meat and cook until tender, about 30-45 minutes more.

While the meat is cooking, make the Risotto Milanese. One of the unique ingredients in this risotto is saffron, which gives this an enticing fragrance. You only need 2 teaspoons of saffron threads for this recipe and remember, this is the worlds most expensive spice, so a little does go a long way!

Add the saffron to 5 cups of hot chicken stock, stirring to infuse. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, heat until hot and add 1 small onion, finely diced, cook until soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.
Next add 2 cups of Arborio rice and cook, stirring, until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add 1/3 cup dry white wine and cook, stirring until almost evaporated. Add 1 cup of the stock and cook, stirring, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding 1 cup stock at a time and stirring until each addition as been absorbed before adding more stock. Continue process until rice is tender and creamy but still slightly al dente, about 17-20 minutes. You may not use all of the stock.

Stir in 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese until well combined.

By now, the veal should be done, serve immediately with a little of the pan sauce and sprinkled with a bit of the gremolata, along with the risotto, sprinkled with a little more Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. A wonderful Italian Sunday dinner!