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perfect osso buco recipe

Perfect Osso Buco Recipe: A Family Take on Italian Comfort Food

A family recipe for perfect ossobuco, the Italian slow food classic from Milan, using beef shanks, tomatoes and red wine.
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 4
Author Johan Johansen

Ingredients

For osso buco:

  • 900 grams ox shanks
  • 2 medium-sized onions cut into eights
  • 3 carrots cut into two centimeter pieces
  • 4 stalks of celery cut into two centimeter pieces
  • 2 whole, canned tomatoes about 400 grams each
  • 350 milliliters Chianti or other Italian red wine
  • 150 milliliters beef stock
  • 50 grams tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 20 whole black pepper corns
  • 50 grams flour for coating the meat
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 dash sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon butter for frying

For gremolata:

  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley

Instructions

Prepare meat:

  1. Combine flour, plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper on a plate and stir well with a fork to combine.
  2. Using kitchen shears, poultry shears or a sharp knife carefully cut through the tough tissue surrounding the ox shanks several times leaving about five inches of tissue between cuts. This step is important as to keep the meat from shriveling up during cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 150C while you finish the rest of the process.

Make osso buco:

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat for several minutes, add butter and olive oil and let foam up.
  2. Grab one piece of ox shank dredge one side in flour, shake off excess, repeat with other side, then carefully transfer to Dutch oven to brown. Repeat with remaining shank(s), making sure not to crowd the pot. Go one at a time if you must.
  3. Brown shanks for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown and delicious.
  4. Once browned on both sides, remove ox shanks from Dutch oven and set aside while you sautée the vegetables.
  5. Add carrots to Dutch oven and leave relatively undisturbed to caramelize, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add onions to the pot and leave once again relatively undisturbed to brown and caramelize, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add celery and brown for another minute or so.
  8. Add tomato paste and fry for about a minute.
  9. Add red wine and stir to deglaze the bottom of the Dutch oven.
  10. Nestle the shanks back into the pot, add thyme, bay leaves, garlic, whole pepper corns and the whole, canned tomatoes.
  11. Cover with a lid and place in oven to cook low and slow for four hours.
  12. When ready to serve, return to cook top and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, add a generous glug of sherry vinegar to cut the richness and sweetness of the dish.
  13. Lastly, carefully fish out the bay leaves. They’re not good eats!

Make gremolata:

  1. Remove stalks from parsley and chop leaves coarsely.
  2. Chop garlic finely using a sharp knife and put in a suitable bowl along with the chopped parsley.
  3. Add freshly grated lemon zest and stir to combine.

Serving osso buco:

  1. Carefully plate the beef shanks on top of a pile of polenta or other starch of your choice.
  2. Add vegetables, sauce and tomatoes as well, doing whatever you can to keep the tomatoes whole, they’re an absolute joy to pop and eat.
  3. Be sure to plate the bones as well, some diners know no greater joy than scooping what little marrow remains from the bones and eating it as a buttery delicacy.
  4. Sprinkle generously with gremolata and serve piping hot.

Recipe Notes

Not a fan of sherry vinegar? You can use balsamic vinegar for a slightly sweeter, less acidic result.