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Marcella Hazan's Ossobuco



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“Marcella Hazan is a national treasure…No one has ever done
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~ Craig Claiborne

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La Belle Cuisine


Ossobuco - Braised Veal Shanks,
Milanese Style

Essentials of
Classic Italian Cooking
by Marcella Hazan, 1993, Alfred A. Knopf


“Ossobuco, ‘ss bus’ in Milan’s dialect, means ‘bone with a hole.’
The particular bone in question is that of a calf’s hind shank, and
the ring of meat that circles it is the sweetest and most tender on the
entire animal. To be sure that it is as meltingly tender on the plate
as Nature had intended, be guided by the following suggestions:

  • Insist that the shank come from the meatier hind leg only. If you are buying it in a supermarket and are in doubt, look for one of the butchers who is usually on hand during the day, and ask him.

  • Have the ossobuco cut no thicker than 1 1/2 inches. It is the size at which it cooks best. Thick Ossobuco, however impressive it looks on the plate, rarely cooks long and slowly enough, and it usually ends up being chewy and stringy.

  • Make sure the butcher does not remove the skin enveloping the shanks. It not only helps to hold the ossobuco together while it cooks, but its creamy consistency makes a delectable contribution to the final flavor of the dish.

  • Be prepared to give ossobuco time enough to cook. Slow, patient cooking
    is essential if you want to protect the shank’s natural juiciness.

Note: When you are buying a whole shank, ask the butcher to saw
off both ends for you. You don’t want them in the ossobuco because
they don’t have much meat, but they make a splendid addition to the
assorted components of a homemade meat broth.

For 6 to 8 servings

1 cup onion chopped fine
2/3 cup carrot chopped fine
2/3 cup celery chopped fine
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon garlic chopped fine
2 strips lemon peel with none of
the white pith beneath it
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Eight 1 1/2-inch-thick slices of veal hind
shank, each tied tightly around the middle
Flour, spread on a plate
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup basic homemade meat broth [stock], or
1/2 cup canned beef broth with 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes,
coarsely chopped, with their juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 sprigs parsley
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Choose a pot with a heavy bottom or of enameled cast iron that can subsequently accommodate all the veal shanks in a single layer. (If
you do not have a single pot large enough, use two smaller ones,
dividing the ingredients into two equal halves, but adding 1 extra
tablespoon of butter for each pot.) Put in the onion, carrot, celery,
and butter, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook for about 6 to 7
minutes, add the chopped garlic and lemon peel, cook another 2 or
3 minutes until the vegetables soften and wilt, then remove
from heat.
3. Put the vegetable oil in a skillet and turn on the heat to medium high.
Turn the veal shanks in the flour, coating them all over and shaking
off the excess flour.
Note: Do not flour the veal, or anything else that needs to be browned,
in advance because the flour will become soggy and make it impossible
to achieve a crisp surface.

When the oil is quite hot – it should sizzle when the veal goes in –
slip in the shanks and brown them deeply all over. Remove them
from the skillet using a slotted spoon or spatula, and stand them
side by side over the chopped vegetables in the pot.
4. Tip the skillet and spoon off all but a little bit of the oil. Add the wine, reduce it by simmering it over medium heat while scraping loose
with a wooden spoon the browning residues stuck to the bottomm
and sides. Pour the skillet juices over the veal in the pot.
5. Put the broth in the skillet, bring it to a simmer, and add it to the pot.
Also add the chopped tomatoes with their juice, the thyme, the bay
leaves, parsley, pepper and salt. The broth should have come two-
thirds of the way up to the top of the shanks. If it does not,
add more.
6. Bring the liquids in the pot to a simmer, cover the pot tightly, and
place it in the lower third of the preheated oven. Cook for about
2 hours or until the meat feels very tender when prodded with a
fork and a dense, creamy sauce has formed. Turn and baste the
shanks every 20 minutes. If, while the ossobuco is cooking, the
liquid in the pot becomes insufficient, add 2 tablespoons of water
at a time, as needed.
7. When the ossobuco is done, transfer it to a warm platter, carefully
remove the trussing strings without letting the shanks come apart,
pour the sauce in the pot over them, and serve at once. If the pot
juices are too thin and watery, place the pot over a burner with
high heat, boil down the excess liquid, then pour the reduced
juices over the ossobuco on the platter.


“If you wish to observe ossobuco tradition strictly, you must add an
aromatic mixture called ‘gremolada’ to the shanks, when they are
nearly done. I never do it myself, but some people like it, and if you
want to try it, here is what it consists of:

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, taking
care to avoid the white pith
1/4 teaspoon garlic chopped
very, very fine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Combine the ingredients evenly and sprinkle the mixture over the
shanks while they are cooking but when they are done, so that the
gremolada cooks with the veal no longer than 2 minutes.

Ahead-of-time note: Ossobuco can be completely cooked a day or two in
advance. It should be reheated gently over the stove, adding 1 or 2 table-
spoons of water, if needed. If you are using gremolada, add it only when
reheating the meat.


Featured Archive Recipes:
Marcella's Ossobuco in Bianco
Braised Veal with Fresh Pasta
Braised Veal Shanks with Tomato,
White Beans and Basil

Osso Buco with Mushroom Sauce 
Rosemary Braised Veal Shank
(Daniel Boulud)

Veal Braised in the Old-Fashioned Way

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