A Milanese Classic
Adapted from The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan, 1973 Knopf.
- Servings: 4.
This recipe is adapted from one by Marcella Hazan that appeared in her first and breakthrough cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook, first published in 1973. It is a traditional dish from Milan that slowly braises pieces of veal shank, with the meat still on the bone.
There are different versions of ossobuco, including some made with a brown mushroom sauce. But this recipe instead uses a vibrant tomato-based sauce that has a complex taste due to a soffrito foundation of chopped onion, carrots, and celery. The tomato mixture perfectly compliments the richness of the slow-cooked veal.
Be sure to use good canned tomatoes, preferably San Marzano for their rich flavor and substantial texture (discard any basil leaf that may come with the tomatoes).
Use a heavy casserole with a tight fitting lid (this is a good time to use your favorite Le Creuset or similar Dutch oven) that can accommodate the veal in a single layer and has about 6 cups of liquid capacity.
Ossobuco is made with veal shanks which have become a luxury cut of meat and can be quite costly. But it is often on sale or available at Costco and you can buy in advance, freezing the veal until you're ready to make this dish.
Ossobuco is traditionally served with risotto Milanese which is flavored with saffron and Parmesan cheese. But it is equally wonderful with a short cut pasta, such as rigatoni or penne, and a green vegetable such as steamed broccoli rabe or braised kale.
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup carrot, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
- 2 strips lemon peel (wash the lemon first)
- 1/2 cup canola or extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large pieces of veal shank, each tied with butcher's twine to keep it from falling apart when it cooks
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spread on a dinner plate or cutting board
- 1 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio is a good choice)
- 1 1/2 cups chicken or beef stock, either homemade or good boxed stock, plus extra if needed (see below)
- 1 1/2 cups canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped and with their juices
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 springs flat leaf parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Place the onion, carrot, celery and butter in the casserole and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes until the vegetables soften but do not brown. Add the garlic and lemon rind and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the casserole from the heat.
- In a separate skillet that is large enough to cook all four pieces of veal, heat the oil over medium high heat. While the oil is becoming hot, dip the pieces of veal into the flour and turn so to dust all the surfaces. Shake off any excess. Do this just before you're ready to cook the veal; if you let it sit too long once floured, the meat will not brown.
- When the oil is hot and the surface is shimmering, brown the meat on all sides. Transfer each piece, once done, to the casserole, on top of the cooked vegetables.
- Once all the veal has been browned and removed from the skillet, drain off any excess fat and return the pan to the heat. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Boil for about 2 minutes and pour this over the veal and vegetables in the casserole.
- Using the same skillet, bring the broth to a boil and pour into the casserole. Add the chopped tomatoes, their juices, and the seasonings -- thyme, bay leaves, parsley, and several grinds of black pepper. Do not add salt yet because your broth is probably already salted.
- The broth and other liquids should come up to the top of the veal pieces -- if not, add more.
- On the top of the stove, bring the contents of the casserole to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat, place the cover on the casserole, and place in the lower third of the preheated oven. Cook for about 2 hours, carefully turning and basting the veal every 20 minutes. Taste the sauce and add a pinch or two of salt, if necessary. When done the veal will be very tender and falling from their bones, and the sauce will be dense and reduced. (If the sauce is still too thin but the meat is cooked, remove the veal from the casserole and place the sauce on top of the stove over high heat and briskly boil the sauce until it thickens. Return the veal to the casserole to serve.)
- Serve immediately with one piece of veal per serving, with the sauce poured on top, with more served on the side.