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Osso Buco

May 25, 2014

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Osso Buco – “bone with a hole” – is a Milanese specialty. It’s also my traditional fancy-dancy birthday dinner. Or at least it was until our neighborhood trattoria took it off the menu a couple years ago. So this year I prepared my own birthday feast.

There are many recipes for Osso Buco. The one I used is adapted from “Roberto’s Osso Buco,” a recipe in Jan Karon’s “Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader.”   More on this delightful book later, but here is the introduction to the recipe, taken from chapter twenty-one of Karon’s “A Light in the Window.”

“Roberto had put on the rector’s favorite apron, tucked his tie into his shirt pocket, and was busy creating the most seductive aromas in the rectory’s history.

“’Osso Buco!’ Roberto announced, removing the pot lid with one hand and waving a wooden spoon with the other.

“’Ummmmm!’ cried Cynthia, … ‘Man!’ exclaimed Dooley, … ‘Oh, my goodness!’ gasped Miss Sadie, … Louella sniffed the air appreciatively. ‘That ain’t no collards and pigs’ feet!’ The toasts flew as thick as snowflakes during last year’s blizzard. … The rector had never seen so much toasting and cooking and pouring of olive oil and peeling of garlic, nor heard so much laughing and joking. … It was as if Roberto were one of their very own and had come home to them all.”

Roberto’s Osso Buco

2 or 3 pounds veal shanks (be sure that they are full of marrow)

salt, pepper, flour, olive oil, unsalted butter


1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 large carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped


1 (or 2) 14-1/2 oz. chopped tomatoes in juice

1 (or 2) cups chicken stock

5-6 sprigs fresh thyme

8-10 fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

* * *

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour (a zip-lock bag works perfectly). Heat a couple tablespoons of oil and butter over medium heat in a large, heavy Dutch oven and brown the shanks all over. Remove the shanks to a plate.

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Lower the heat, add a little more butter along with the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Saute the vegetables until they are just soft, 5 or 10 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes and juice, stock, the thyme and basil (wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with string), sugar, and lemon zest, and about 1-1/2 tsp salt. Arrange the shanks over the sauce and cover the Dutch oven and place it in the preheated oven. Braise the shanks for about 2 hours, basting occasionally, until they are very tender.

While the shanks are braising, prepare the gremolata. Pull the leaves from one bunch of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley. Finely chop the leaves with 4 cloves of garlic. Combine the parsley and garlic with 2 tablespoons lemon zest. Let the mixture sit for a while to mix the flavors.

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Serve the Osso Buco on individual plates, with sauce spooned over, garnished with a sprinkling of gremolata.   Risotto is a traditional accompaniment; mashed potatoes or polenta are also options.  We like it with polenta.   A plate of sliced tomatoes, seasoned with olive oil and dried oregano, was the perfect accompaniment.

The cookbook & kitchen reader

Cover_JanKaron'sMitfordCookbookJan Karon’s “Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader” edited by Martha McIntosh, offers 150 recipes, scenes from the Mitford books, Jan’s memories of her grandmother, family photos, hymns… well (as the jacket says), “everything but the kitchen sink. My Judith – feminist, teacher, theologian – is a Jan Karon groupie. Is that incongruous? Perhaps not. She rereads the Mitford novels – it seems she always has one going. Perhaps they are for her a sorbet for the mind.

One finds recipes for company fare here – Helene’s Roast Poulet with Currants, Cynthia’s Bouillabaisse, Esther’s Orange Marmalade Cake. There’s also comfort food – Puny’s Creamed Corn, Rector’s Meatloaf, Marge’s Chicken Pot Pie.

And a few moments of downright silliness – Doolie’s Fried Baloney Sandwich Supreme (Fry a slice of baloney, spread mayo on two slices of white bread, place the baloney between the bread, fry the sandwich on both sides until crispy brown). Doolie’s Second Favorite Sandwich – The Doozie. (Spread a slice of white bread with a generous amount of smooth peanut butter, sprinkle the peanut butter liberally with Cheerios. “Fold the sandwich in half and jump on your bike and go.”)

Bon appetit.








From → Food

  1. I’m glad to hear from you. Yum.

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