Osso Buco

Italian osso buco, made with veal shanks, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, pancetta, and gremolata with parsley, lemon zest, and garlic.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I’ve made osso buco, an Italian dish of braised veal shanks, several times. I’ve eaten it in fine Italian restaurants but I’ve never really liked it until now.

This is a great recipe that my father pulled from the web a few years ago which uses pancetta, instead of olive oil, for the browning of the veal and cooking the vegetables.

Olive oil is the traditional method, so if you want to skip the pancetta, just substitute several tablespoons of olive oil.

But the pancetta adds a lovely flavor dimension, and is probably the secret ingredient that has me liking osso buco for the first time. So use it if you can.

“Osso Buco” means “hole of bone” because this marrow provides the rich flavor to the sauce. A marrow spoon, one of those long skinny spoons found in old sterling silverware sets, would come in handy with this dish, as the succulent shank marrow can be tricky to extract (I used the skinny end of a teaspoon).

The gremolata (parsley, lemon zest and garlic) is an important garnish for this dish, don’t skip.

Osso Buco Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced 1/4 inch cubes (do not substitute bacon)
  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds veal shanks (4 to 6 pieces 2-3 inches thick)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot (1/4 inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (1/4 inch cubes)
  • 1 medium onion, diced 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp (about 4 cloves) chopped garlic
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1-2 cups chicken or veal stock
  • Flour for dusting the meat before browning
  • Salt and Pepper

Gremolata

  • 2 Tbsp Minced flat (Italian) parsley
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

Method

1 Preheat oven to 325°F.

2 Brown the pancetta: Heat a dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat for about five minutes. Add pancetta to pan, cook, stirring occasionally.

When the pancetta is crispy and most of the fat has rendered (about 5 minutes of cooking), remove the pancetta to a plate covered with some paper towel and set aside.

If necessary, drain off all but two tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

3 Dredge shanks in flour, brown in pan: Season the veal shank well with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal shanks through some flour, shake off any excess, and add the meat to the hot fat in the pan.

Increase the heat to medium high and cook the meat on each side until well browned (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the shanks to a plate, set aside.

4 Sauté onions, carrots, celery: Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the dutch oven. Cook the onion mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent (about five minutes) and toss in the garlic and thyme.

Continue cooking until the vegetables just begin to brown (about 10 minutes).

5 Return shanks to pan, add wine and stock: Add the shanks and the pancetta back to the pan. Pour in the wine, and then add enough stock to come a little more than half way up the side of the shanks.

Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and put it in the oven to cook until the meat is tender, about an hour to an hour and a half.

6 Make gremolata: Combine the gremolata ingredients, place in a separate small serving dish.

Serve on top of risotto or polenta. Sprinkle with gremolata.

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Showing 4 of 23 Comments

  • Henry

    Terrific. My girls loved it, save the lemon shavings (kids!)

  • Ingrid

    I’ve always wondered, can you use beef (rather than veal) shanks for osso buco? Or does anyone have recommendations for yummy beef shank recipes?
    Thanks!

    I’ve heard of using lamb shanks for osso buco, but not beef shanks, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been done. With beef shanks I would suspect that they would do well in a slow braise stew. ~Elise

  • Nicole

    My husband and I just finished eating this osso bucco. It was fantastic! I made it with the asparagus rissoto (also on this website) and it was a perfect match. The only thing I would do is add a bit more carrots, they came out so good.
    ENJOY!

  • Melinda

    My partner looooves Osso Bucco, his face breaks into a huge smile if he arrives home to the smell of it cooking. I just wanted to share my version. The secret (I believe) is to cook the dish with a quartered orange – it adds a whole new dimension (also a brilliant addition to slow cooked corned beef), I also use red instead of white wine and add around 400grams of diced italian tomatoes or passata, sometimes I also add chopped anchovies and a little diced chilli whilst cooking the vegetables (extra carrots and sometimes also add diced mushrooms). I also cut up the meat, remove the marrow (add it to the casserole of course) and bones 3/4 of the way through the cooking.To offset any sweetness and add a nice crunch contrast, I serve it on a bed of brown rice with a side of green beans. I top off the casserole with some shaved fresh parmesan, gremolata and a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt. Now re reading your recipe and reading mine, sounds like a completely different dish – oops.

  • John

    I see some comments on here are asking if you can use different cuts of meat, I’ve used all sorts of beasts and it all comes down to the shank of what ever animal you use. It’s that slow cooking process that breaks down the tough meat fibres and sinew of that cut that give fantastic flavours. I’m off the so called expensive cuts(wague etc;)in favour of these cheaper cuts purely cause of flavour. It takes a lot longer to cook, but the end result in my opinion is chalk and cheese.

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