new Things I Ate in Cambodia: How To Make Marcella Hazan's Osso Bucco

Monday, March 30, 2009

How To Make Marcella Hazan's Osso Bucco

Oh, osso bucco. These delectable veal shanks have got it all: fatty and delightfully rich meat, delicious pan juices, juicy and mouth-coating bone marrow. We use Marcella Hazan's recipe in our household and it's a good one - I like the heartier Milanese take on the dish, complete with plenty of tomatoes. We picked up the meat from Corti Brothers which I hadn't been to before, believe it or no. (I know, I'm a lousy Sacramento resident.) The meat was attractive, if partially frozen. Apparently Corti Brothers doesn't sell enough osso bucco to justify keeping out thawed. What's wrong with people?

Here's how we did it last week, with much credit going to Marcella.

1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped carrot
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic
2 strips lemon peel
4/5 veal hind shanks (for 3 people who LIKE or REALLY LIKE meat)
1 cup dry white wine that doesn't suck
1 cup beef stock
1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes - I like San Marzano's
Package of Baby Bella mushrooms if so inclined
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 sprigs parsley

Preheat your oven to 350. You'll want a large pot where you can lay out the osso bucco, with plenty of space. Once you've found a suitable pot, toss in the onion, celery, carrot, and butter, then turn your burners heat to medium. Cook the vegetables for 6 or 7 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and finely grated lemon peel. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Pull them off the heat.

Dredge the shanks in the flourgiving them a heathy coating, then toss them in a suitable skillet (not in the pot.) Brown them all over. Once browned, lay them over the vegetables in the pot. Perhaps even nestle them.

Tip the oil out of the skillet then add the wine and reduce , by simmering over medium heat. Make sure to scrape out the delicious brown bits!

Pour these juices over the veal and vegetables in the pot. Put the beef broth in a separate skillet, bring to a simmer, then pour into the pot as well. Add the chopped tomatoes (with juice), thyme, bay leaves, parsley, pepper, and salt. I also like to add some baby bella mushrooms. This can be omitted if you're a purist or mushrooms make you die. If the broth isn't two thirds of the way up the shanks, you have DONE IT WRONG. Okay, just add some more broth.

Bring all the various tasty liquids in the pot to a simmer on the range, cover the pot tightly, and place the whole shebang in the oven. Cook for two hours or until the meat is fall apart tender. It is rather difficult to OVERcook osso bucco. Turn and baste the shanks every 20 minutes or so, although this can become a bit difficult as the meat gets falling-apart tender and generally awesome.

Once the meat is done, remove the pot from the oven and serve. Be forewarned: the meat often slips right off the bone, so be sure to keep things together when removing from the juices.

I like serving osso bucco with greens sauteed with balsamic vinegar and shallot - try a combo of kale and collards. Osso bucco calls for polenta with parmesan cheese, or perhaps some home-made mashed potatoes. The delicious fatty marrow inside the bones is the absolute best part of this dish, and should be fought over by everyone at the table if they have any sense of value or decency. (I need some marrow forks very badly.)

I'll even tell you how to make the greens. Why? Because it is very easy and I am feeling profligate and friendly.

Serves 4 or 5
2 big bags of pre cut collards, kale, or combination therein OR
2 pounds of greens
2 or 3 shallots
Kosher salt
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Get some collard greens and some kale. If you can't find those magically convenient pre-cut bags, wash the greens and rip into pieces This is easily done in a sink. Next, boil the greens in a big pot. Collards take a little longer then the kale, so start them first. The entire process should take no more then 12 minutes.

Locate a big skillet, and chop up the shallot, as well as a couple cloves of garlic. Saute in olive oil until the shallot is soft. Put in the greens. You'll need to do this in bunches and wilt them as you go. Depending on how you like your greens, you can cook them just enough to wilt them - they are boiled, after all! You can also braise the greens for around 30 minutes with a bit of chicken stock. I like my greens just barely wilted and that is what you are looking at here. I also like to add a few glugs of balsamic vinegar to the mix. Use at your own discretion.

Plated. This tasted delicious, meaty, and ever so perfectly fatty and rich, and I highly recommend it to everyone who really enjoys hearty Italian peasant food - and really, who doesn't? I thought so.

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