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Friday, January 22, 2010

Osso Buco

I'm going to let you in one one of my secrets. I always promised myself that this one would go to the grave with me, but I can't do it. I need to shout it from the rooftops so everyone will hear:


I don't know if it's the name of the dish that sounds intimidating or the fact that people aren't generally familiar with veal shank that puts them off. It could be the English translation which is literally "bone hole" (gross) but if you have skipped over this one time and time again you are missing out.

So, it's time to suck it up and make this dish. You'll need a little prep time because I promised my husband that I would stop butchering his heritage by taking short cuts like using jarred sauce. No jars in this baby! I do use canned tomatoes though. I refuse to boil, then peel, then crush my own tomatoes. Well, at least until the twins are old enough and I can run a little kitchen sweat shop.

Ok, so get in your kitchen and repeat after me, "I am not afraid of Osso Buco. I am going to make this and wow someone really special." When you are done you must tell the story of how you slaved in the kitchen all day long. Putting your hand over your forehead and faining exhaustion works well too. Wear an apron while you're at it... it helps with the drama.

What you'll need:

4 veal shanks
you may have to preorder these from the butcher
1 chopped onion
1chopped carrot
2 chopped ribs of celery
1 cup of red wine (sub beef broth if you are a paleo purist)
1 32oz package of low sodium chicken broth
1 big bay leaf
small can tomato paste
one can of stewed tomatoes 15oz
1 sprig of rosemary or 1 tsp dried
1 sprig of thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp crushed, dried cloves
almond meal or flour
olive oil

What you do:

Get the oven preheated to 375. Use a heavy and large pan making sure you have enough room for all of the veal shanks to fit. Start with tying your veal shanks with kitchen string. If you don't tie them up your meat will flop all over the place. Trust me, it's not pretty. Just use a couple of lengths and wrap around the perimeter of the veal so it's nice and tight to the bone. Next, dredge the shank in a little almond meal. Dust off the excess. You aren't trying to bread it. Get out that heavy pan and put some olive oil in it. Get the pan hot. Sere the shanks in the olive oil until they are nice and brown about 7 minutes per side. Don't flip them back and forth a hundred times; just let them sit. That's what gives them the nice color and retains the moisture. Set them aside on a plate to keep them warm.

Now saute your veggies in the same pan until they are soft. Add in the tomato paste and stir quickly to coat the veggies. Add the stewed tomatoes WITHOUT their liquid. It's time for the wine... my favorite part. Poor in a cup of wine and get it bubbling really well. Boil it until its reduced by half. While you are waiting for the wine to reduce poor yourself a glass. You deserve it. It's been a long day. No one has to know that it's only 10 am. Heck, forget the glass, just drink it straight out of the bottle. I won't tell. When the wine is done reducing put the veal shanks back in the pan and add your chicken broth. You want to add enough broth to cover a little more than half way up the veal shank. Now add in the herbs. Bring it up to a boil and then cover it with foil or the pan lid and place it in the oven. Close the oven door and have another sip... the hard part's over.

You'll want to braise the veal for about 1 1/2 hours. Baste it about every 30 minutes. The delicious aroma should be filling your house by now causing family members to come out of the woodwork. When you see them coming toward the kitchen put a little tomato paste on your cheek and look as tired as you can. This will get you out of doing the dishes for sure.

There are a couple of ways you can finish the dish. When it is done you can simply plate the veal and poor the sauce over it with the veggies and all. If you want to get really fancy your can put the liquid through the strainer and discard the veggies which is the more classic preparation. I've never really been one for following the rules, but either is delicious.

And there you have it. A meal that is usually only ordered in a restaurant at an insane price. Only yours is better because you've left out the flour, lard (yes, they use lard), salt and whatever else they put in it. I hope you enjoy this one!

ps. If you're paleo to the extreme you can suck the marrow out of the bone. I can't do it but it's a really good source of fat.

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