The Make-Ahead Meat Dish Alex Guarnaschelli Loves For Entertaining

Alex Guarnaschelli is known for her many culinary achievements: Iron Chef contestant, Food Network star, executive chef of Butter in New York City, and three-time cookbook author to name a few. As a result, her recommendations and recipes come with a whole slew of experience and expertise, and she's no stranger to being host and home cook extraordinaire.

If you're no stranger to these roles either, you're probably looking for that ideal dinner recipe that every host is on the hunt for. That recipe that sounds fancy, looks impressive, and tastes delicious — but doesn't cost you an arm and a leg, and can be made ahead of time. The one that strikes the oh-so-desirable balance of providing a comforting, tasty meal that makes your guests happy while making your hosting experience stress-free.

There's good news for you hosts and home cooks: Next time you're entertaining and in need of that sought-after ideal dinner recipe, Alex Guarnaschelli has got just the thing.

Alex Guarnaschelli recommends pork osso buco

Alex Guarnaschelli's go-to for guests: make-ahead Pork Osso Buco. First things first though .... what exactly is "osso buco"? It's a traditional Italian dish from the Lombardy region that uses a specific cross-cut of meat: a shank that exposes the bone in the center, living up to its direct Italian translation of "bone with a hole" (per Daring Gourmet). The marrow in the bone renders as the meat is slowly cooked and braised, making for the ultimate comfort dish that's as tender as it is flavorful.

Typically made with veal shanks, or sometimes beef, Guarnaschelli uses pork shanks in her recipe for an easy-to-find, inexpensive alternative. As she explains in her Instagram post about the recipe, "Pork shanks are affordable and tasty. These are great cooked slow and low and served piping hot with rice pilaf, baked potatoes, or risotto." However, if pork isn't your thing, she notes that the dish can be swapped out with several other cuts of meat like beef shanks, lamb shanks, or even oxtails.

In her description of the recipe, Guarnaschelli admits, "​This is such an opulent dish and takes a long time to cook." However, the rich sauce that results from hours of cooking will be well worth it. Don't be scared off by the four-hour-plus time commitment, because this is a dish that lends itself well to sitting and stewing in all of its flavorful goodness — so you can make osso buco earlier in the day before guests arrive.

How to make osso buco

While there are different versions of osso buco out there, Alex Guarnaschelli's takes a tomato-based sauce approach with a manageable list of ingredients. The first and arguably most important step when making osso buco is to brown the meat. Regardless of the type of meat you're using, you'll want to brown each piece (seasoned with salt and pepper) in hot oil in a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, for up to five to eight minutes on each side to get that deep color and bit of crisp on the outside. Once you remove the meat, add whatever vegetables and aromatics you're using to the same pot: onions, garlic, carrots, bay leaves, etc. Add wine and tomatoes, and cook down a bit before returning the meat to the pot.

Here's where that time commitment comes in. Add beef stock, bring it to a simmer, and then cover and cook the meat in its braising liquid at 375 degrees for around 2 to 2.5 hours. The key is to cook the meat as long as you need for it to reach the ultimate tenderness. Once you remove it from the oven, let the meat rest uncovered for 15 minutes, and cook down half of the remaining liquid (you can discard or reuse the other half) for another 15 to 30 minutes until it reduces by half. Stir in the final touches for flavor (Guarnaschelli uses orange zest and red wine vinegar), and serve the meat with the sauce poured on top.

That's all there is to it! Get the full recipe on Food Network and get cooking at your next dinner party.