Like so many others, during quarantine, I’ve made an effort to create a rhythm to daily life for my family. I try to find ways to enjoy simple pleasures. One of the ways I’ve sought to do that is making our meals special. Whether it’s trying new recipes, perfecting favorite dishes, or having fun with the table setting, making mealtimes an event helps us to look forward to something pleasurable, something that brings us comfort. There’s a reassuring comfort in a favorite dish and excitement in trying something new. I love that around 2 p.m. every afternoon my youngest son asks the same question, “What’s for dinner?” It makes me giggle because it’s evident he’s anticipating and thinking of what’s to come.
Last Sunday, I made Ossobuco, which literally means “bone with a hole.” It’s one of my husband’s absolute favorite dishes. It’s a classic Milanese dish of veal shanks braised with wine, broth, vegetables and herbs. There are two versions: the more classic recipe, bianco (served with a gremolada), and rosso (which includes some form of tomato sauce). Since moving to Italy, I’ve learned to make Ossobuco rosso and I’m still working on perfecting the bianco version. It’s typically served with either polenta or risotto alla Milanese. It can also be served with mashed potatoes, which is what I chose.
There are so many variations of Ossobuco rosso, some people add crushed tomatoes and others only use tomato paste. I found Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe very close to the Italian recipes I found online. Below is the recipe with the slight adjustments I made.
EASY OSSOBUCO ROSSO
This serves 6 people or 4 if you have a hungry man in the house.
(6) 1 to 1.5 inch slices of veal shank (you could also use pork shanks)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup all purpose flour for dredging
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
About 4 cups of chicken broth
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 large sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. If you want to secure the meat to the bone, use kitchen twine to do so. The twine keeps the meat from falling off the bone. I did not have twine on hand and decided against braving the grocery store in search of twine. Season each piece with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.
In a roasting pan or dutch oven heat pan on medium flame until hot, add oil then add veal in a single layer. Cook (5-8 minutes on each side) until brown. Transfer veal to a plate.
In the same pan, add onion, carrot, and celery. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until onion is tender, about 6 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste and saute for 1 minute. Stir in wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return veal back into pan and add enough broth to cover two-thirds of the veal. Add herbs and cloves. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and transfer to oven. Braise until for-tender, about 1.5 hours total. Turn veal every 30 minutes.
Remove the veal. At this point, Giada suggests using a sieve over a large bowl to remove the vegetables and herbs. I chose not to because I like the taste and texture of braised veggies and I have a 14 yr old boy who needs veggies in any way possible. I removed the herbs, and adjusted the salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over veal and garnish with parsley.