Facing an alarming backlog due to the France writeups, so I'll try my best to get everything done. Meanwhile, I discovered I had three veal shanks sitting in my freezer turning a rather unappetising shade of magenta. I'd been meaning to make some osso bucco, but never found the time to.
Well, finally deciding I'd put it off long enough, I also wanted a chance to try out my beautiful birthday present from Nicholas, who, thoughtful as always, gave me something really useful and nice to look at:
It's been such a long time since I've handled a really sharp knife, that I'd almost forgotten what it was like. Almost, but not quite. The crisp, clean shear of celery as the knife blade slipped right through, the hard carrot yielding meekly, it's truly a pleasure to cook when you have the right tools.
Anyway, this recipe for osso bucco isn't mine, I Googled if off the web and you can find it here.
4 veal shanks, 2 inch thick
1/2 cup flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 can (14.5 ounces) low-salt chicken broth
1 can (14.5 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed with fingers or fork, with juices
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
1-1/2 tablespoons parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
When cooking osso bucco, it's important to have thick slabs of meat. You should be aiming for a minimum of 2 inches per shank. Don't worry about having to chew your way through it; the meat should be tender enough to fall apart at the touch of a fork. I went a little overboard with the herbs; chopping up about a tablespoon of thyme and marjoram, and probably something like half a cup of parsley. Too many herbs is never a bad thing.
Salt and pepper the shanks, and coat them lightly in flour. I had, of course, forgotten to do this, so it's not totally essential.
Heat some olive oil in a casserole or deep pot, and brown the shanks on both sides, which takes about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Try and brown the rims of the shanks as well, in order to improve the colour.
Once that's done, remove the shanks from the pot, and saute your garlic, onions, celery and carrots in the same oil. Try not to burn them, especially the garlic and onions, because those are the easiest to burn.
Pour in the wine and the stock, bringing it to a boil and scraping up the brown fond sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you have burned your garlic and onions, then don't scrape them up, otherwise everything becomes acrid.
Next, add the lemon juice, tomatoes and herbs. Turn down the heat to a simmer and let the liquid reduce by a third (or, if in a hurry, just boil the living daylights out of it till similarly reduced). Make sure the pot is uncovered so that all the water can evaporate.
Once the liquid has evaporated enough and turned a nice vermilion hue, you may turn down the heat if you were using a rolling boil previously. If you were simmering, then just carry right on. If you were using the microwave, you've clearly been reading the wrong recipe.
Return the shanks to the simmering liquid, moving aside the vegetables to make room. It is inevitable that the shanks will be resting on some carrots and celery, so it's important your flame is as small as possible to minimise charring things on the bottom of your pot. They really do look like brains in that last photo.
Cover the pot and simmer lightly for about two hours, until the bone socket is hollow (and has rendered its marrow) and the meat if falling off the bone and fork-tender.
Serve the osso bucco with the accompanying vegetables. The yellow thing you see on the side is polenta, which I thought went quite well with the shanks. Not bad, even if I do say so myself.