Along with cow tongue, Osso Bucco was one of my most desired childhood dishes. When I became a vegetarian in college, my mother would tantalize me with this Italian specialty. On the first occasion she cooked this in my now meat-eating state, I shadowed her like private detective, making detailed notes of every pinch, stir and sizzle.

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Osso Bucco is traditionally made with cross-cut veal shank. My mother and I both have beef shares; a large pasture-raised, locally-grown cow, butchered and divided by eight families. My share dominates the freezer, but fulfills my protein needs for nearly a year! A veal would feed significantly less of us, and likely house less bone marrow than a mighty cross-cut beef shank.

Ah yes. The marrow. This is what Osso Bucco, or “bone with a hole”, is all about! The decadent, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth stuff that fills the hole. It’s glorious, and not in the slightest bit gross!

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Bone with a Hole (Osso Bucco)

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • Garam masala - 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Yellow mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon stick - 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • Chardonnay - 1/2 cup chardonnay, or any white or red wine
  • Onion - 1 onion, sliced
  • Garlic - 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Tomato paste - 1 tablespoon
  • Sea salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon, freshly ground
  • Parsley - 1/2 cup parsley stems, coarsely chopped, defrosted
  • Rosemary - A couple sprigs of rosemary, you can never have too much!
  • Vegetable stock - 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • Bay leaf - 1 bay leaf
  • Beef shank - 1 cross-cut beef shank, rinsed and patted dry
  • Parchment paper -

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a small sauce pan, toast the garam masala, coriander and mustard seeds. Toast for about 5 minutes or until they become aromatic.
  3. Remove and grind in a mortar and pestle, cleaned our coffee grinder, or in a bowl or plate using the bottom of a mug to crush the seeds. Set aside in a small bowl.
  4. In a medium or large cast iron skillet or saucepan over medium-high, sear the beef. It contains natural fats and oils, so don't worry about greasing the pan. You want to place the beef on each side for about five minutes without removing. This creates a nice outer coating to seal in the flavor and juices. It should be a nice caramelized browned color. It's easiest when using tongs to position and flip the beef. Don't forget the sides!
  5. Remove the beef and set aside on a plate.
  6. Add about 1 tablespoon of the chardonnay to the pan and "de-glaze". This means removing the juices and fats stuck to the pan from the beef. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan. When fully de-glazed, add the onions. Stir until translucent and browned.
  7. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir again.
  8. Add the toasted spices, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, parsley stems and rosemary. Stir well and cover for two minutes.
  9. Add the rest of the wine and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  10. In an oven-proof deep dish (we used our cast iron fondue pot), use a slotted spoon to fill the bottom with a layer of onions. Place the beef on top and pour the remaining simmering liquids over the beef. It should be completely submerged. If it isn't, add more wine or vegetable stock, or a combination of both.
  11. Here is Nora's tip! Place parchment paper on top, sealing in the juices (see picture below).
  12. Place in the oven for about 3 hours. Check half way through by cutting off a small piece. You can serve it sooner, but it will be less tender. Your goal is to have the meet melt off the bone and melt in your mouth!
  13. When finished, remove the beef from the dish. Keep warm on a covered plate or with foil.
  14. Add the liquids back to the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, reducing the liquid. Add about one tablespoon of flour to thicken as needed.
  15. In a blender or food processor, puree the liquid into a sauce. If you don't have one, you can serve as is!
  16. Split the shank in two and dress with sauce. Take turns sucking the bone marrow, or if you want to be more refined, remove with a knife or spoon (though its not nearly as fun!).
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