Osso buco is an Italian stew. The preparation is fairly basic. Brown the meat, saute the veggies, simmer everything with wine, stock and aromatics. Done! But what’s cuisine without the details: what makes osso buco so not…basic?
My very limited linguistics knowledge brought me to translate osso as bone and buco as mouth. I pictured a Italian chef in a cartoon bringing the bone to his mouth, kissing it in ecstatic approval. “Magnifico!”
Wrong! Osso buco actually means “bone with a hole.” It’s made with a cross-cut section of veal or lamb shank (the shin). This gives you nice meaty chunks with a bone running right through the center.
So why is the hole in the bone so important? It holds the marrow. Now this is the crown jewel of the dish (Show those fangs and channel your inner vampire. Everything until now has only been True Blood!) The proper way to eat the marrow is probably with a small, fancy spoon. But I can’t say I don’t do a quick “magnifico!” while no one is looking.
My recipe is a mix of traditional, modern and whatever I could find. I intended to use a nice thick cut of lamb, but four unsuccessful trips to my local grocers left me with beef. The stewing liquid is a mixture of dry white wine and homemade chicken stock (homemade is the key). Finally, I season my sauce with cinnamon. It adds a comfortable warmth and brings the dish back to a more traditional iteration not seen in many modern recipes.
The finished product is garnished with gremolata, which is a simple mix of parsley, garlic and lemon zest. It just brightens up this already complex, deep and warm stew.
Oh! And don’t forget to eat the marrow!
2 lb Shank, veal, lamb or beef
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock, homemade
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
½ tsp cinnamon
1. Season the meat with S&P, and dredge it in flour.
2. Brown the meat. Heat a large pan on high heat until it is hot. Add the olive oil. When the olive oil is heated, add the meat. It should cook for about 3 minutes on both sides. Remove the meat and set aside when done.
3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot, and saute for 7-10 minutes. When the onions are soft, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Add the tomato paste.
4. Add the wine to the pot and reduce it by half.
5. Return the meat to the pan, and then add enough chicken stock to cover it (about 2 cups).
6. Add the herbs and season again with S&P.
7. Simmer the stew for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
8. When the meat is tender, remove it from the pan.
9. Uncover the pot, turn the heat to high and boil for about 10 minutes. This will thicken the sauce.
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
Combine all of the ingredients. That’s it!