I have been dedicating the month of January to fish recipes. So now that the month is drawing to its end, I thought that at least one meat dish was in order. It has been a cold month and cold nights call for rich flavours and comfort foods. And the C word means that I must eschew an excess of labour and fatigue … when I think of comfort food, in other words, I also want to think that I shall find comfort in preparing it. Thus all I could think of one freezing cold day was: ossobuco. Tasty food, very filling and warming, and not too fiddly to prepare: a gastronomic hole in one.
“Ossobuco” means “bone with a hole” and the bone in question contains a very tasty marrow that we were banned from eating in Italy for a while, following the Mad Cow disease scare. Ossobuco is made with veal shanks. It’s a northern dish, probably Milanese in origin and is usually accompanied by risotto, polenta or mashed potatoes. In Rome it is often made accompanied by peas.
I was a little horrified, when consulting the internet for ossobuco recipes, to discover how many of them make it sound so complicated to prepare! I grant that it is a dish that takes some time to cook (about one and a half hours) and it does also require a bit of prepping but, then, so does any casserole. Think of ossobuco as a casserole and the C word looms invitingly larger.
And if you don’t have a Dutch even, never mind. And you don’t need twine or a bouquet garni or even meat stock. I happened to have some clarified butter handy but if you do not, butter is just as good. And, last, you do not need an oven. Ossobuco is cooked on the hob/stove top in Italy. I have even been known to cook ossubuco in a pressure cooker.
I think the following photos are pretty much self explanatory.
Use a pair of scissors to snip a few cuts on the outside of the shank — this will prevent the meat from curling as it cooks.
Sea salt, pepper and clarified butter. If you haven’t any, use butter instead.
I am using an iron saucepan ….
dredge the ossobuco in flour …
and get rid of any excess.
As soon as the clarified butter or butter is melting, add the meat and start searing ..,
And now, while the meat is cooking away, it’s time to mince up some vegetables …
The idea is to brown the meat on both sides, and when this is done, take the meat out of the pan and stew the processed veggies in the same pan :
At this point, add two or three cherry tomatoes cut in half:
and a drizzle of olive oil :
And a good splash of red wine :
Put the meat back into the pan, cover and cook for about 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how tender the meat is.
And while the ossobuchi are cooking away, one can make the gremolata.
The ingredients are lemon zest, parsley leaves, and garlic. (Make sure the lemon is a non-treated one).
Zest the lemon … making sure that you get rid of the white part of the lemon peel/zest … that’s the part that is acidic. That little gadget in the photo is brilliant for this. If you haven’t got one, then use a potato peeler or a very sharp knife.
Chop up the parsley leaves, garlic and lemon zest as finely as you can and set aside until the meat has cooked.
When the meat has cooked, remove it from the pan …
Slide the gremolata into the saucepan and mix well. At this point it could be ready to serve as is. Today, I decided I would do something a little different and so went on to process the sauce …
TIME TO SERVE