I love osso bucco and generally order it whenever I see it on a menu. Actually, let’s say a reputable restaurant menu. I learned that lesson a few years ago at a subpar Italian restaurant that clearly didn’t understand the importance of slow cooking the veal shanks leaving me with fat and chewiness.
Despite my love of the dish and braised meats in general, I’ve never cooked osso bucco myself. This is likely due to my love of using cheap cuts and not being willing to spend the cash to purchase veal shanks. When I noticed something labeled “shin steaks” at Stop and Shop, I recognized an opportunity.
According to Wikipedia (I was going to pretend I knew this before a crisis of conscience), osso bucco means “bone with a hole”. While a shin steak from a full-sized cow qualifies as osso bucco, it still isn’t the traditional veal variety. It’s basically a cross section slice of a beef shank. So, lets call this version of the dish Awso Bucco (copyright Conor Russel inc, 2011) moving forward.
I started out by trimming the fat and outer connective tissue from the shin steaks then tying them up with kitchen twine to prevent them from falling apart.
The shin steaks were seasoned heavily with salt and pepper then went into Big Yellow with a little olive oil to brown for a bit.
While the steaks browned, I threw an onion, a couple ribs of celery, a few peeled carrots, and 4 cloves of garlic in the food processor and gave them a good choppin’.
After about 7 or 8 minutes, I flipped the steaks and started browning the other side.
After a few more minutes I pulled the shin steaks from the pot and dumped the contents of the food processor in to cook for a bit.
Since the food processor basically makes a garlic/onion/carrot/celery juice with pulp, the vegetables don’t really brown or caramelize, they just cook. Not sure how to expound on that eloquently, but there are no visual signs that things are cooking once you put them in the pot. After a few minutes you just shrug your shoulders and add some tomatoes.
Then a bottle of white wine once the tomatoes have cooked with the vegetables for five minutes.
Once the braising liquid reduced a bit over high heat, I threw in a couple bay leaves and strategically placed the shin steaks back in the pot.
Lid went on and Big Yellow headed into the oven for three hours at 300F, checking occasionally to make sure that too much liquid hadn’t cooked off. After the full three hours, you should have something that looks like this:
Since there was a little excess liquid, I took the lid off and cooked uncovered for another 30 minutes. Which was a perfect cue to start the mushroom and corn risotto I chose to pair with the Awso instead of polenta.
After 30 minutes uncovered, the liquid had mostly cooked off, and we had a decent looking pot of braised loveliness.
Very simple meal to plate; pile of risotto, then the Awso and a big spoonful of the sauce from the pot over everything.
The sauce was rich and tasted strongly of white wine in very a good way. There’s just something phenomenal about slow cooked sauce with tomatoes, mirepoix, and white wine. The Awso was the perfect texture; not quite fall-apart stew meat, but insanely tender and delicious. The sweet risotto was a solid counterpoint to the richness of the Awso, though the corn got a little sticky in the cooking process.
With all of my marrow talkin’, you didn’t think I’d actually forget to mention it?
The marrow was good, had all the best flavors from the sauce and a melt in your mouth texture. Wish I had made some bread to smear it on.
Next week we’ll be talking pies.