It’s been awhile since I did a post about one of my favorite veal dishes, osso buco. A couple of days ago, I was at Peter’s Meat Market on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, and I came across some of the best looking veal shanks I’ve ever seen. As I have noted in previous posts, an unfortunate thing is that the other gourmaniac doesn’t eat mammals, so this was to be a solo culinary treat just for me.
Instead of the traditional osso buco treatment of chicken stock, blanched citrus peels, tomatoes and onions which I have written about in the past, this time I went for a heartier version. After browning the veal shanks in canola oil, I added caramelized onions, garlic, pitted olives, caper berries, roasted yellow and red baby peppers. I poured in a generous helping of my own veal stock, and I let the veal shanks braise over low heat for about an hour-and-a-half. I took my 6 quart dutch oven off the heat before the meat was at the ”fall-off-the-bone stage” and I Iet it lounge in the liquid until cooled. The result was arguably the best osso buco I’ve ever enjoyed.
2 large veal shanks
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup pitted olives
¼ cup caper berries (or store bought capers)
10 small yellow and red sweet peppers roasted in the oven
1 quart rich veal stock (you can substitute chicken stock)
1/3 cup flour
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup canola oil
2 quarts preserved plum tomatoes (or substitute 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes)
1 cup good red wine
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 4 Tbsp canola oil in a medium sauté pan and add the onions, sautéing slowly until golden brown (about 20 minutes). Add the garlic and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes. In the meantime heat the rest of the canola oil in a heavy cast iron pan, dutch oven or large sauté pan. Generously flour the veal shanks and season them with salt and pepper. Add the veal shanks to the hot canola oil and brown them on both sides and on their edges. When nicely browned transfer the shanks to a plate and de-glaze the sauté pan with the red wine, reducing until you have a glaze. Then add the onions and garlic along with the veal stock. Bring to a boil and return to a simmer, letting the stock reduce for several minutes. Add the veal shanks, olives, roasted peppers, caper berries, bay leaves and tomatoes. The veal shanks should be almost submerged in the veal stock.
Partially cover the pan with a lid and let everything simmer and braise for about an hour–and-a-half. After an hour check the veal shanks for tenderness: I like mine very tender, but not to the “falling-off-the-bone” stage. When they are cooked to your satisfaction, remove the pan from the heat. You can enjoy them right away, or you can let them rest for half an hour.
Before plating, transfer the veal shanks to a warming oven and keep reducing the remaining braising stock, along with all the ingredients, for several minutes. Return to a simmer and whisk in the butter.
Plate the veal shanks with a ladle full of the sauce with the onions, peppers, olives and caper berries. If desired, top with fresh chopped herbs of your choice, like parsley, chervil, or chives.
And above all, remember to savor the thimbleful of marrow from the shank bone. For me, it’s the best part of the meal, and I always save it for my last bite.