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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking a Chance

On Friday I went to see my friend Mark the Butcher.  I was planning to make stuffed cabbage for dinner and I needed some ground beef.  I also was going to pick up a few things for the week.  I had a list.  As Mark was butterflying my chicken breasts I saw something I had never attempted making before: osso buco.  I was intrigued.

I had no idea how to prepare  veal shanks, but isn't this why I have an iPhone?  A quick Google search revealed that it really isn't that hard and that all you need is time.  Well, time and a couple of pretty basic ingredients like carrots, celery, and onions, all of which I had in the house.  I figured that since it was Friday and Kate didn't have tennis, I had time to burn, sort of.  I took a leap of faith and had Mark tie a couple up with twine and I was on my way home to experiment.

Why did I never make osso buco before?  It was so easy and they're just my kind of food.  They're braised low and slow and they come out of the oven meltingly tender and delicious.  With the veal shanks, I served some creamy polenta, and it was a perfect dinner.  I even made an apple tart for dessert.   Honestly, it was restaurant quality, almost, and all it really took was some time and a leap of faith.

Recipe:  Osso Buco
(Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis)


6 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick slices veal shank
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/3 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
About 4 cups low-sodium chick boroh
1 large spring fresh rosemary
1 large spring fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375.  Pat the veal dry with paper towels.  Secure the meat to the bone with kitchen twine.  Season veal with 1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper.  Dredge the veal in the flour to coat the cut sides lightly.

In a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit the veal in a single layer, heat the oil over a medium flame until hot.  Add the veal and cook until brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side.  Transfer the veal to a plate and reserve.

In the same pan, add the onion, carrot, and celery.  Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt.  Saute until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and saute for 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Return the veal to the pan.  Add enough chicken broth to come two thirds of the way up the sides of the veal.  Add the herb sprigs, bay leaf, and cloves to the broth mixture.  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Cover the pan with foil and transfer to the oven.  Braise, until the veal is fork tender, turning veal every 30 minutes, about 1 1/2 hours total.

Carefully remove the cooked veal from the pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut off the twine and discard.  Tent the veal to keep warm.

Place a large sieve over a large bowl.  Carefully pour the cooking liquid and vegetables into the sieve, pressing on the solids to release as much of the liquid as possible.  Discard the solids and return the sauce to the pan.  Gently place the veal back into the strained sauce.  Bring just to a simmer and season with more salt and pepper, to taste.  Place one veal shank on each plate and garnish with parsley.

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