Italian, Veal


After the big snow, I found some good-looking free raised veal shanks at the market, and thought about making ossobuco, which I haven’t cooked in years. Ossobuco alla milanese is a classic Lombardian pairing of braised
veal shank with risotto alla milanese – risotto flavored with saffron. The “buco” refers to the hole in the shank bone, filled with marrow, which partly disintegrates into the braising liquid – the remainder is a rich,
fatty treat to be eaten with a small spoon.

Veal is young calf (usually under 24 weeks), and has a milder, milkier flavor than beef. Because it is so delicate, I like to pair it with earthy flavors – truffles, mushrooms, brown butter, sage. As it happens, I had a large quantity of frozen sage brown butter in the reach in, and some mushrooms to use up as well. So I decided that, rather than the classic milanese preparation, I would prepare a braised shank with meaty king oyster mushrooms, paired with a brown butter and sage risotto. The astringency and slight bitterness of the sage balances the rich milkiness of the veal, and the earthy mushrooms accentuate its meatiness. To enhance the risotto and tie the components of the dish together, I incorporated the marrow from the prepared shanks.

Braised veal shanks

4 veal shanks, about 10 ounces each
2 medium carrots, diced 1/4″
1 small onion, diced 1/4″
1 large or two small ribs celery, diced 1/4″
1 c dry white wine
4-6 canned plum tomatoes (I use San Marzano DOP), depending on size)
2 c white veal stock, or chicken stock
several sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

Oven 275F

Season the shanks on both sides with salt. Place a deep, heavy pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, add a little olive oil to film the pan. Add the shanks, browning well on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side).
Remove the shanks and set aside; lower the heat to medium low.


Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary (it should not be) and add the vegetables. Sauté the vegetables until tender and golden.

Deglaze the pan with wine, stirring. Reduce the wine by 2/3 and add the tomatoes, breaking up as you go. Add the herbs and stock and bring to a simmer. Return the shanks to the pan.

Cover with a parchment lid with a hole in the center. Place in the oven. Turn the shanks over every 45 minutes, for 3 hours total braising time. Test the shanks for tenderness; if they require more time (they should not), return to the oven until tender.

Remove the shanks to a plate, remove the marrow, and set aside for the risotto. Strain the pan contents through a chinois, pressing well to extract as much liquid as possible as the vegetables disintegrate. Reduce
the strained braising liquid until beginning to thicken, reduce heat to a simmer, and return the shanks to the pan to glaze well. Hold for service (cover with parchment lid if necessary and hold in a warm oven.

King oyster mushroom

1/4 lb king oyster (eringii) mushrooms, washed well and sliced 1/2″ batons
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c dry white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
several sprigs thyme, leaves only
small handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
salt (black truffle salt is great) and pepper

Place a deep, heavy pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the butter to the pan. When the butter foams, add the mushrooms, browning well.

Add the white wine to the pan and cook until the mushrooms absorb the wine; finish with lemon juice, parsley, and thyme and season. Hold for service.

Brown butter risotto

3 oz butter, divided into 4 pieces
1 small onion, diced 1/4″
3 cloves garlic confit, pureed
1 1/2 c carnaroli or arborio rice
1 c dry white wine
6 c white veal stock, or chicken stock
8 chives, minced
about 20 sage leaves, washed and dried
bone marrow from prepared ossobuco
salt and pepper
1/2 c or so grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

About 25 minutes before service, bring the stock to a simmer and maintain at a bare simmer.

Place a risotto pan (any deep pan with somewhat rounded sides will do) over medium heat and, when hot, add 1 tbsp (1/2 oz) butter. When foaming and beginning to brown, add the onion, and sweat until tender.

Add the rice to the pan and sauté until the grains are all coated well with oil, about 2 minutes (tostatura). Add the wine to the pan and stir continuously until the wine is absorbed. Increase the heat somewhat and
add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring slowly and well until virtually all the liquid has been absorbed before adding any more. Each addition should take several minutes. The rice takes about 20 minutes to cook and,
when properly al dente, should still have a little resistance but not hardness in the center of each grain.

While cooking the rice, heat the remaining butter in a small pan until foamy, slightly brown, and nutty. Add the sage leaves and fry until bright deep green and crisp. Hold.

As soon as the rice is cooked al dente, remove from the heat and stir in the reserved marrow, half the brown butter, and the Parmigiano. Season with additional salt as necessary and pepper to taste.

Plate the risotto and add the glazed veal shank, mushrooms, and drizzle with a spoonful of the remaining brown butter. Garnish with several fried sage leaves.


One thought on “Ossobuco.

  1. Pingback: Arancini. « The Upstart Kitchen

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