Chef Bebber On The Art Of Osso Buco

It seems like the colder it gets outside, the richer and the heavier the dishes that are served inside become. Right now, we've got our eye on the perfect osso buco, brought to us by Massimo Bebber, chef at New York's Sirio Ristorante.

What is your personal history with osso buco?
I've been eating osso buco since I was a child growing up in Trentino, in northern Italy.  My grandma always made really good food for lunch and dinner, and hers was my first osso buco. Everybody likes it; it's traditional and much-loved. I've gotten a little more experimental over time with flavors and spices, but generally speaking, this is a solid dish that doesn't require much going off the page; if you have an original recipe, it's worth keeping it the way it is.

What goes into making the perfect osso buco?
As the focus of this dish is in the quality and cut of the meat, you definitely need to give some thought to the quality of the veal shank and make sure you are working with the best.

What's the most common mistake other chefs make when attempting this dish?
This is a fairly low-risk dish — if I really think about it, perhaps the timing of the cooking of the osso buco would be the biggest pitfall. If it's not cooked enough, it can make the meat have a gummy consistency, and if you overcook the dish, the meat will be destroyed. You have to get the exact right amount of cooking time and stay on top of the dish while it's in the oven. Depending on the size of the pieces of meat, osso buco normally takes a few hours. My advice is to continually check the dish after it's been in the oven for an hour and a half. Don't be afraid to cut a small piece from the veal and taste it, as this is how you will know when it's ready. Keep going back to the oven every 10 to 15 minutes and your taste buds will tell you when it's ready.

Are there any surprising ingredients you include, or cooking methods you implement, when making your version?
This is in the hands of the person cooking the osso buco, of course. Some prefer polenta over risotto, or vice versa. Personally, I like to experiment with more herbs and spices. A handful of cloves here, a sprinkling of juniper berries there. It helps to spice it up a little and really brings out the flavor of the dish properly.

Click here for chef Bebber's perfect osso buco recipe.