Thursday, October 27, 2011

Osso Bucco

Veal Shank
 If you don't like the idea of killing baby cows, then go ahead and X out of this post now.  This is not a posting for vegetarians or politically correct carnivores.  This is osso bucco--a stew made from veal shanks, or dead baby cow.  Try to forget images of soulful brown eyes and plaintive bleating on the way to the slaughter.  The folks from PETA would hate this recipe, but then, they don't know how good it tastes.  In Italian, osso bucco literally means bone with a hole in it, but it could just as easily mean "how did I live this long and never experience this?" The shank is a donut-shaped bone from the calf's lower leg; it is surrounded by tender succulent meat, at least that's how it gets when you slow cook it for hours in wine, sherry, and broth.  Inside the donut hole rests an amazing dollop of bone marrow, which--once you forget that it's bone marrow tastes like the little piece of heaven that it is.

Osso Bucco is the one dish that once prompted my husband to eat a full dinner twice.  As I recall, he had come back from some evening gathering, and I asked in my ubiquitously-wifey manner:

"How was your meeting?"

"They served osso bucco."

"But you already ate dinner."

"But it was osso bucco."

"Oh my God, you had TWO dinners!" [read: you gluttonous pig].

Says husband, nodding in shared disbelief, "But it was osso bucco."

When I thought about it--he was right.  Osso bucco is worth it.  Just don't think about the baby cows.

Osso Bucco
 By Todd English

1.     Lightly dust four large veal shanks with a mixture of salt, pepper, and flour.  TIP:  If you pat the shanks dry with a clean towel first they will brown better.  Moisture on any meat thwarts this browning process.

2.     In a large dutch over or saute pot, heat approximately two Tbs of olive oil on medium high heat.  Add the veal shanks and cook until they are golden brown--about 5 minutes on one side and two minutes on the other.  Set the shanks aside.

3.  Add one cup of chopped raw bacon to the pan, and cook until it begins to render its fat--about 2 minutes.  Add 6 cloves of thinly sliced garlic.

4.    Dice the following: 1 sweet Mayan or Vidalia onion, 2 large peeled carrots, 3 celery stalks , 2 leeks (white part only), 2 cups shitake mushrooms,.  Add it to mixture.

5.  Add 2 Tbs fresh rosemary, 1 tsp fennel seeds, and 1/2 tsp pepper flakes.  Stir to thoroughly mix.

6.  Return the shanks to the pan and add 3/4 cup dry white wine and  1/2 cup dry Sherry.  Cook 5 minutes.

7.  Add 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth, the zest of one orange.  Bring to a low simmer.

8.  Roast at 425 degrees for 2 hours.

9.  Transfer the shanks to a plate and return the pan to medium high heat.  Add 2 Tbs Dijon mustard and simmer for 10 minutes.  Return the shanks to th pan and cook until heated through; garnish with fresh parsley.

10.  Serve with hot polenta, a full bodied cabernet, and good friends who have no compunction about dining on cute little farm animals.

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