[We have a wander around Italy on the hunt for the most typical dishes of our heritage. Which you can also replicate at home, if you fancy. That’s right, because we’re also going to give you the recipe!]
We have already discussed in a previous correspondence how Milan is home to countless doorways that conceal behind them secret courtyards or gardens: a hidden world revealed only to those who cross those austere, wooden, double-door, and, at times, dizzyingly high thresholds...
And just like those hidden gardens, the bone marrow in ossobuco veal stew is also concealed, only to be discovered at the last moment: a fatty tissue with a super soft texture that you have to fish out with a fork from its hidey-hole inside the leg bones (in Italian, “ossobuco” means, literally, “bone hole”).
[The bones used for ossobuco come from the upper portion of the legs of a cow or calf, from either the front or hind legs.]
Don’t worry, I am well aware that the parallel between gardens and ossobuco may sound a little far-fetched... But, as it happens, Ossobuchi in gremolada is one of the classic recipes of my home city, Milan, and the perfect dish to enjoy on cold winter days – just like today (I am writing on a Sunday in December).
I’m not sure how this recipe fits into our busy schedules these days, but Ossibuchi in gremolada is actually neither difficult to prepare nor time-consuming to cook.
And, above all, you can enjoy that delicious aroma of stewed meat, enhanced by the citrus notes of the Gremolada – a sauce made with parsley, garlic and lemon peel – which beautifully accompanies not only ossobuco, but also many other meat dishes. You have to try it!
So, let’s give it a go together!
GREMOLADA AND OSSIBUCHI
[preparation time: 15 minutes preparation + 90 minutes cooking time]
Ingredients [serves 6]
- 6 veal shanks (300 g each)
- 90 g flour
- 700 ml meat stock (ready-made stock cubes are also fine)
- 300 g brown onions
- 70 g butter
- 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 50 ml white wine
- Fine salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 generous sprinkling of black pepper
For the Gremolada
- a generous sprig of fresh parsley
- the zest of one lemon
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 3 cloves of garlic
We begin with the meat. You will need a large, shallow pot or frying pan. Fry the onions (previously sliced) in 3 tablespoons of oil. To make sure the onions don’t burn, dilute the oil with half a glass of water, then put the onions in the pan: they will sauté while the water evaporates. And, as usual, your cholesterol will thank you..
Add half the wine and allow them to simmer for a couple more minutes, then remove them from the cooking juices and leave them aside.
To prevent the veal shanks from curling up during cooking, score the edge with 3 or 4 cuts – it is easiest with scissors. Then coat them in flour, shaking off any excess.
In the same pan as the one you used for the onions, melt the butter and the remaining oil, then brown the veal shanks over a medium-high heat, on both sides, until a nice crust has formed on the outside. Add the remaining wine and cook over a high heat until the wine evaporates. Add the stock until it covers the meat, add the onions you had set aside, cover the pot and let the veal shanks cook over a medium-low heat for half an hour to 40 minutes.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the salt: we’re not quite ready for it yet!
Don’t give in to the temptation to lift the lid and turn the veal shanks: there is plenty of liquid, so they won’t burn and it’s best that they don’t dry out in the air. If you’re concerned, simply reduce the heat to the minimum.
After a little over half an hour, you can finally lift the lid, gently turn the meat and add salt and pepper to taste. Leave the veal shanks to cook for another 20 minutes, always keeping the pan covered!
In the meantime, you can prepare the famous Gremolada. Peel the garlic cloves, remove the germ so they are easier to digest, wash the parsley, strip the rosemary leaves from the stem and chop it all up. Traditional foodies don’t use a knife, nor the blades of a blender, but rather the pestle and mortar – crushing the herbs by hand. Feel free to decide which tool you want to use – the important thing is that the ingredients are well ground.
When the meat is ready, arrange it neatly on a serving dish and dress it with the Gremolada. Garnish with freshly grated lemon zest and voila, your Ossibuchi are ready to enjoy just as though you were in a garden palace in Milan!
Buon appetito! 💗