I’d never heard of ossobuco, let alone tasted it, until I spent time in Italy years ago. As soon as I returned to New York, where I then lived, I began making ossobuco for small dinner parties – ideal because it was even better if made the day before and reheated just before serving. My New York butchers carried veal shanks (first Walter’s in the West Village, then Tom’s near Gramercy Park – my last and favorite New York neighborhood). When I moved south, I feared that the veal so routine in fine New York butcher shops would no longer be available. To my great delight it is.
Adapted from "Falling off the Bone" by Jean Anderson.
For the gremolata*:
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
For the shanks:
- 6 slices of 2-inch-thick center-cut veal shanks
- 1/3 cup unsifted all-purpose flour mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon each crumbled dried leaf thyme and freshly ground black pepper (seasoned flour)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and skins removed
- 2 small carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 small celery ribs, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 large whole bay leaves (preferably fresh)
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried leaf basil
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried leaf marjoram
- 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme (preferably lemon thyme) or 1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried leaf thyme
- 2 strips (each about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide) lemon zest
- One 14 ½-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
- 1 3/4 cups chicken or beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio, Soave, or Verdicchio
- 1/4 cup moderately coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
*Note: To add a note of mystery, I sometimes vary the gremolata, using 21/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange or lime zest or even 1/4 teaspoon each orange and lime. But I’m careful not to overdo it – a lemony flavor should predominate.
For the gremolata:
Combine all three ingredients in a bowl; set aside.
For the shanks:
Rub veal shanks well all over with seasoned flour, then shake off excess.
In a heavy nonreactive Dutch oven large enough to accommodate all shanks in a single layer heat 2 tablespoons each oil and butter over moderately high heat until ripples appear on pan bottom, about 1 1/2–2 minutes.
Add all shanks and brown well, allowing 5–7 minutes per side and lifting each to a large bowl as it browns.
Add remaining oil and butter to pot and as soon as butter melts, add next ten ingredients (yellow onions through lemon zest) and sauté stirring often, until limp and golden — about 10 minutes.
Return shanks to pot along with accumulated juices, add tomatoes, broth, and wine, and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Adjust heat so mixture barely bubbles, cover, and simmer slowly until veal nearly falls from bones — about 3 1/2–4 hours. Stir mixture occasionally and if at any time liquid seems skimpy, add a little water, turn heat to lowest point, and if necessary, slide a diffuser underneath pot. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to proceed, let the Dutch oven stand 30 minutes at room temperature, set over moderate heat, and bring ossobuco slowly to serving temperature — about 20 minutes; stir occasionally and carefully so shanks remain intact. Discard bay leaves and lemon zest. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust. Mix in chopped parsley.
To serve, arrange ossobuco on a heated large deep platter, smother with pan gravy, then top each shank with a sprinkling of gremolata. Accompany with boiled rice or a favorite risotto.