CK Cooks, Dinner, Holidays / Entertaining

CK ♥ Erin (Ultimate Osso Buco)

CK's Masterpiece Meal

CK here for a little guest post.

At one time I was living with my grandparents, and they instituted an “Everyone cooks a dinner” rule, meaning that even I, the 12 year old kid in the house, had to prepare a meal for the family by myself. Apparently being a glutton for punishment, I told them I wanted to make an Osso Buco dish. For some strange reason they accepted. The details are now a little hazy, but I remember being able to pull off said meal with great success.

Fast forward many a year and Erin demands an evening off from cooking (attempting to disguise this as a “please make me something nice because you love me” meal). You see, CK started the whole relationship on the wrong foot by cooking for her on one of the first dates they had. Since this was one of the things that stole Erin’s heart, she has a sweet spot for any concoction that Chef CK can come up with. As she’s heard (repeatedly) that one of my greatest triumphs was the aforementioned Osso Buco recipe, this was the logical choice for my annual cooking creation.

Once I decided to make Osso Buco, I had to find the right recipe. Going to the ever trusty Food Network site, I came across Tyler Florence’s Amarone Osso Buco. The recipe looked fantastic. I especially liked the idea of Cranberry Gremolata. We decided this was the one, and proceeded to assemble ingredients.

A few surprises were immediately presented. First, neither Erin nor I were aware that veal shanks were so difficult to obtain. We went to three markets before we realized we had to go to an honest-to-goodness specialty shop. We ended up going to Savenor’s Market, which had amazing cuts of meat (though the veal shanks were especially pricey, like they would be anywhere), not to mention a great selection of other Italian specialty foods, and was once considered Julia Child’s favorite market and preferred source of meats for her cooking shows.

The second surprise we ended up coming upon was the Amarone wine. Erin was tasked with getting this for the recipe, and headed over to our local wine shop. She quickly discovered that the wine indicated in the recipe was a $50 bottle of wine. This, coupled with the $50 worth of veal we had already gotten was putting this recipe in the running for the most expensive recipe ever featured on Erin Cooks. Seeing as we wouldn’t even get the opportunity to drink this wine straight up (the entire bottle goes into the recipe), Erin decided to save a little money here and opt for a less expensive wine from the same region.

The cooking of this recipe is fairly straightforward. My recommendations would be to pre-chop all your vegetables and have them ready to dump in when the time is right. This way you can focus your attention on properly searing the shanks, instead of trying to cut things up while cooking the meat. The thing that took me aback the most was the entire head of garlic going in. When it does, it really is just slicing it in half from top to bottom, and dumping both ends in. It’s more for flavoring than eating, so don’t worry about it too much.

And finally don’t forget about the Gremolata! I was so invested in the cooking of the veal and getting and assembling all the ingredients that I forgot to make the Gremolata until we were ready to serve. It really does add a little extra “oompf” to the dish, and finishes everything off nicely.

All in all, this is a great meal to have, and if there’s only two of you, we found this to be 4 complete meals. This recipe makes two servings of Osso Buco each, as well as being able to make two days worth of soup out of the leftover sauce and vegetables, thanks to the addition of extra broth, vegetables, and some pasta or potatoes.

Second Helpings

Amarone Osso Buco
(based on the recipe published by Tyler Florence)

Osso Buco:
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces veal shank for osso bucco
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 lemon, zest peeled off in wide strips with a vegetable peeler
1 head garlic, cut horizontally through the middle
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bottle Amarone wine (we used a similar, more reasonably priced wine from the same region instead)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand-crushed
Cranberry Gremolata:
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
2 garlic cloves
1 orange, zest finely grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the flour in a large shallow platter and season it with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Get in the habit of always tasting your flour; once it coats the veal it is harder to adjust the seasoning. Dredge the veal shanks in the seasoned flour and then tap off the excess (extra flour will burn and make the dish off-tasting). Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and hit it with a 3-count drizzle of oil. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan to melt. Sear the veal shanks, turning carefully with tongs, until all sides are a rich brown caramel color. Drizzle with a little more oil, if needed. (Do this in batches if the shanks are big and look crowded in the pot.) Remove the browned veal shanks to a side plate. There will be a lot of flavor left over in the bottom of the pot. You’re going to use that to create your sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using the same pot, saute the onion, celery, carrots, lemon zest, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley over medium heat. Cook the vegetables down until they start to get some color and develop a deep, rich aroma. Season with salt and pepper; add a little oil if needed. Nestle the veal shanks back in the pot. Pour in the wine and let it simmer down for 20 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half. Reducing is key for intense flavor. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise for 1 and a 1/2 hours. Then remove the cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and the veal tender and nearly falling off the bone.
Remove bay leaves.

For the gremolata:
Finely chop the pine nuts, dried cranberries and combine. Combine this with the garlic together in a mini chopper or with a mortar and pestle. Fold that into the orange zest and parsley. Scatter the gremolata over the Osso Bucco before serving.