Osso Buco

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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 dad 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 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.

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3 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.

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4 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).

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5 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 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!)

  • JP

    Hiya, i have been eating this dish since i was a kid.
    I adore the stuff and can’t get enough of it.

    I personally don’t use the Pancetta but i will certainly give it a try next time i get some shin….Speaking of that, osso bucco can be rather expensive, so what i tend to do is order a whole shin from my local butcher 3 days in advance of when i need it, the entire shin costs me around £25 and i usually get about 6 cuts from it (supermarkets charge waaaay more than this), the bonus (apart from the cost) is that you get the whole shin bone too, so i get the butcher to cut the bone (so it bends)and then pop the bone in with the portions, then i use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke out all the marrow into the sauce just before serving……the taste is sublime!!!

    Go see your butcher, you’ll save money i promise!

  • Mindy

    I just made this tonight and I have to say this is one of the best Osso Bucco I have ever eaten. So tender, no knife was needed. Now I’m sorry I only made four shanks. Will be making this again very soon. A great meal in this cold weather. Thank you

  • Andrée Lapierre

    My mother who is 84 years young had always wanted to sample Osso Buco but didn’t fancy the look of it in restaurants or the cost sooooo I tested your recipe, may I say that it was more than tasty, we had 2 shanks and proceeded with the recipe as given, delish. I will make this my one and only Osso Buco recipe, very moist.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Andrée Lapierre
    Montréal, QC

  • Maurice

    I just finished preparing this dish with lamb shanks? I seasoned the meat heavily with salt, pepper and garlic powder too. It was perfectly seasoned. Delicious, 5*! Flavors marry well! I cooked with stock not broth and substituted prosciutto instead of pancetta (it works beautifully). I added a little lemon juice to the gremolota to moisten and it worked well also. You need no knife, cut it with a fork. I will try it with veal shanks when available. Lemons zest adds just the right touch but not too sweet.

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