The Allure of Osso Bucco

by Jeff Berkowitz on February 22, 2010 · 1 comment

in Veal

Osso Bucco

Braising~ Magical process by which we take an otherwise inedible item, meat in this case, and turn it into something glorious, tender, flavorful, beyond comprehension, nutritious, and satisfying….alchemy. I liken this process to a holy pilgrimage, the preparation has zen qualities of concentration as each of the ingredients are prepared and assemble to orchestrate the silky, rich finished dish. Osso Bucco is veal shanks. The meat is succulent and the marrow is a rare treat.

Usually hind shanks are used but they may be hard to come by. Fore shanks are less expensive and may be what you more typically will see at your local grocer. If you can find hind shanks get them. They have more meat and are even better than the fore shanks.

We rough chop the vegetables because they will yield their essence to the sauce. This is a fairly typical mixture of aromatic vegetables and liquids to render this usually tough meat tender.  We added parsnip and garlic to the mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots) to add complexity to the sauce. To keep the sauce light, the vegetables were not browned and we used white wine and chicken broth. Veal is a very light colored meat and we wanted the sauce to complement it’s coloring rather than covering it up. After the meat was browned, all of the other ingredients were added cold and brought up to temperature to render all available protein into the sauce for added richness.  Protein is more efficiently extracted in cold liquids. That is why when you make chicken soup you always start with all of your ingredients added to cold water.

Gremolata is traditionally served with Osso Bucco. It’s a chopped herb accompaniment consisting of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. You can also use it to garnish any meat or fish.


serves 4

  • 4 veal shanks, cut 1½ to 2 inches thick (approx. 2- 2 ½ lbs)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp grape seed oil (or any oil with a high smoke point)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 carrots, rough chopped
  • 2 celery ribs with leaves, rough chopped
  • 1 parsnip, rough chopped
  • 1 large shallot, rough chopped
  • 1 large onion, rough chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
  • 1 handful of parsley stems
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1  14½ oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 fresh sage leaves

This dish may be cooked entirely on the stove-top or you may simmer in a 325° oven.

Heat a braising pan, dutch oven, or large heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat. While the pan is heating combine the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and dredge the shanks, being careful not to handle them too roughly.  Reserve the dusting flour. Add the oil to the hot pan, then add the butter. When the butter stops sizzling, lightly brown the veal shanks on both sides. About 2 minutes per side. Remove the veal shanks from the pan and turn the heat off. Combine the remaining dusting flour with the oil and butter left in the pan and remove this roux for later use. Add a little bit of the white wine first to scrape any stuck on bits on the bottom. This will also cool off your pan.  Add the remaining ingredients and then nestle the veal shanks into the liquid. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about 1 ½ hours, until the meat is tender. Remove the veal shanks and cover on a plate with aluminum foil to keep warm. Strain the sauce into a fine mesh colander or chinois mousseline.  Add the sauce back to the pan. Bring it to a simmer and whisk in the roux that was reserved earlier. Continue simmering until the sauce thickens and the roux is cooked out. Taste your sauce to make sure you don’t have a flour taste or gritty texture. If you do, continue simmering until it dissipates. Add salt if necessary. Serve veal shanks with the sauce and the gremolata.


  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 clove garlic minced

Combine all ingredients. Use as a garnish for the Osso Bucco. May also be used on any other meat or fish dish.

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Braised Short Rib Ragu with Gnocchi | Culinary Philosopher
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