How to Make Ossobuco Like an Italian
Ossobuco alla Milanese is a Milan-style dish of veal shanks braised in a tomato and white wine sauce. The slow-cooked ossobuco becomes so tender and juicy that it falls right off the bone, and the bone marrow creates an additional explosion of happiness (and nutrients) with every bite.
Ossobuco can be served with Risotto alla Milanese, but I love to serve it with Polenta and top it with a zesty gremolada for the ultimate mouthwatering dish. This is a complete dish and the perfect comfort food to have on a cold winter night or as a special meal.
Vincenzo’s Plate Tips for the Perfect Ossobuco
Get Your Meat From the Butcher
Ossobuco requires fresh and high-quality veal shanks, which you can only get from your local butcher. Make sure your butcher cut these nice and thick, preferably about 1 inch (2.5 cm) so they don’t fall apart until it’s time to eat. I recommend one piece of osso buco per person.
Always Flavor With Soffritto
Soffritto is the base of your sauce, made up of a combination of chopped carrots, celery, and onion. This combination is what adds flavor to a variety of dishes, including soups and stews. Be sure to chop them all down to the same size, using just one medium-sized carrot, one large celery stick, and half an onion.
Use Your Favorite White Wine
White wine is also important for the ossobuco’s flavor. It adds depth while cutting down on the richness of the overall dish. Use any white wine you have on hand, or if you need to buy it, make sure it’s not too sweet.
Use Both Tomato Paste and Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Ossobuco is a tomato-based dish, so you’ll want to use a combination of whole peeled tomatoes (preferably Roma tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes) and tomato paste. You don’t need a lot of tomato paste, as just a tablespoon is enough to add flavor and help thicken the sauce.
Use Beef Broth
It’s important you use beef broth rather than beef stock for ossobuco, and make sure to heat it before using.
Cut the Nerves
I like to cut the nerves (edges) of the veal shanks with a sharp knife or scissors. This will prevent the edges of the meat from curling up and coming apart.
Coat Your Osso Buco With Flour
By coating your veal shanks with flour, the juices of the meat will become sealed inside. It will also help create a creaminess to the entire dish.
Remember that ossobuco is a slow-cooked recipe. So, we don’t want to rush! Take your time cooking everything, and the final result will be perfect!
How to Serve Ossobuco
Ossobuco is traditionally served with a creamy risotto alla Milanese or polenta. However, it can also be served with some white rice or even freshly baked bread.
To plate your ossobuco, place your risotto or polenta on the dish first and then one piece of osso buco on top. Add some of the reduced sauce and the gremolata over the top and garnish with some fresh parsley.
- Large Dutch oven for simmering and braising
- Large bowl
- Large plate
- Large saucepan
- Tomato crusher (or your hands)
- wooden spoon
- Kitchen Tongs
- Citrus peeler
- 3 pieces Veal shanks, bone-in 1-inch (2.5 cm)
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 1 large celery stalk finely chopped
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 125 ml White wine 1 cup
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Small can peeled tomatoes 14.5 oz, crushed (by hand or by using a tomato crusher)
- 1 l Beef broth 4.2 cups
- 30 g Butter
- All-purpose flour to coat the veal shanks
- Extra virgin olive oil EVOO
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh parsley chopped (1 cup)
- 1 Lemon
- 1 cup Corn Flour for Polenta
For the ossobuco:
- Start by cutting into the nerves (edges) of the meat. You’ll want to make up to five cuts per piece.
- Heat your Dutch oven on the stovetop on a medium-high heat setting.
- Once sufficiently heated, melt the butter and 2 tbsp EVOO in your Dutch oven, then add the carrots, celery, and onion (soffritto). Cook for 10 minutes.
- While the soffritto is cooking, lightly coat your veal shanks with flour.
- Add up to 2 Tbsp of beef broth to the soffritto to help soften the ingredients then cover and allow to steam.
- Now, add the meat to the Dutch oven (on top of the cooking soffritto) to caramelize it, 2-3 minutes on each side and in the meantime, add the white wine.
- After about 5 minutes, remove the veal pieces and place them on a plate.
- Add the wine and allow to simmer until it evaporates then add the tomato paste and stir.
- Next, add the crushed tomatoes and stir again to meld the ingredients together.
- Sprinkle in a touch of salt and pepper then mix through and gently add the veal shanks back into the Dutch oven.
- Lightly salt your veal shanks on each side (optional), then slowly add in the rest of the beef broth.
- Cover the Dutch oven and simmer the osso buco for 1½ hours, turning the meat every 30 minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- After an hour and a half, remove the lid to allow the sauce to reduce further (another 30 minutes).
For the Gremolada:
- Start by removing the skin of the lemon with your peeler. Be sure not to take off all the white beneath the rind.
- Add 3-4 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the blender, along with the lemon skin and parsley.
- Blend this together pushing down the mixture from the sides of the blender (as necessary) and blend again to make sure the lemon skin has broken down.
- Remove the mixture and set aside on a plate to serve atop the meat.
For the Polenta:
- Pour approx 5 cups (1.2L) of water into a pot and heat on a high setting.
- As the water is heating, slowly add the polenta, little by little. (The water does not have to be boiling).
- Stir frequently as the mixture comes to a boil. This will prevent lumps so your polenta comes out creamy and smooth. Don’t stop stirring!
- Let boil until the polenta thickens enough that it starts to “spit”.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to stir while adding just a little bit of extra virgin olive oil or butter (your choice!)
- Once the polenta is ready, scoop a large spoonful onto a plate along with the ossobuco and its reduced sauce. Top with your gremolada…as much or as little as you like.
E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!
To create an entirely Milanese menu, I want to recommend two recipes that will make you feel as if you were in northern Italy:
- RISOTTO ALLA MILANESE (Saffron Risotto) is the perfect match for Ossobuco, creating a simple yet delightful combination of flavors. It’s a delicious taste of Milanese cuisine.
- PORK MILANESE (Cotoletta alla Milanese) is another Milanese classic that adds a crispy and savory element to the menu. Paired Ossobuco, it completes a duo of Milanese flavors.
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