Osso Buco

I’ve made osso buco, an Italian dish of braised veal shanks, several times. I’ve eaten it in fine Italian restaurants. 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

  • 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.

osso-buco-1.jpg3 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.

osso-buco-2.jpg4 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).

osso-buco-3.jpg5 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.

24 Comments

  1. Peter O'Donnell

    The recipe intro mentions the marrow, and the need for a marrow spoon to get at it, but then doesn’t say any more about how or when to incorporate it in the sauce.

    Am I missing something obvious here?

  2. Renee

    I’ve had Osso Buco a few times but only once that was ever tasty enough for me to compliment it and I do believe there was pancetta in it… that might just be it, the secret ingredient! I think I’ll try this dish at my father’s when I visit this coming weekend.

  3. jonathan

    Gotta admit, I’m not a big Osso Buco fan either. Or any veal, for that matter (a moral thing). It never fails to amaze me how restaurants have been able to elevate the lowliest cuts of meat to the most expensive (and often sought-after) items on their menus.

  4. Elise

    Hi Peter – During cooking, some of the marrow in the bones will make its way into the sauce, and some of the marrow will stay in the bones either to be forgotten or ignored, or retrieved somehow.

  5. karl roth

    Just a bit of trivia – I’ve heard tell that in Italy they have a nickname for the spoon used to get the marrow out – it’s called “the tax collecter”.
    Great foodblog site !

  6. Greg J Belanger

    I had this recently at a conference in Las Vegas. Its delicious. Being Italian and the grandson of an meat salesman, I was raised with the concept that veal is the king of meats. We very seldom had it at home but when dining out in style it was a must. I thought to myself when I was eating it in Vegas, “I wonder if Elise has a recipe for this on her food blog?” Now I have this wicked awesome recipe. Thank you!

  7. Veron

    I just made mine almost the same time you did! I did mine with lamb shanks though. I want to try it with Garlic next time.

  8. Elise Lafosse

    I served your Osso Bucco to guests this past Saturday and it was a real hit. Loved it, so tender. Thank you so much once again!

  9. Martin

    I’ve made variations of this dish a few times but all recipes ignore a central thing: the vegetables cooked along with the meat are out of this world. I always use as much as at all possible, in fact I use two clay dutch ovens (Roemertopf) and freeze the surplus. Makes for an excellent side dish or semi-vegetarian entree.

  10. Laurie

    This is such a fantastic dish, but up here in the far north we use “moose shanks”, and so far there isn’t any difference

  11. Campylaura

    The marrow is served with the meat, still in the bone, and is considered the prize of the dish. It is usually scooped out of the bone by the diner and spread on a lovely bit of bread before being consumed with much gusto. It’s very rich and buttery in a meaty sort of way, and I’m sure one of the most caloric things a person could consume. It’s definately a guilty pleasure.

  12. The NJ Viggiano's

    When I was a child, this dish was made in the winter or when someone was sick with a severe illness. The marrow of the bone was eaten, with a small spoon, as a strenthening elixir to help those, especially children, suffering from blood disorders, and cancers. Of course, the veal is the most tender and tasty; however, I am sure they are all delicioso!! Buon appetito1

  13. Chris

    Great recipe. Very rich with layered flavours.
    I didn’t have a dutch oven so I cooked it on a cooktop in a stock pot, and used a touch of olive oil and butter to help brown the meat. I’ll definitely be making this again.

  14. 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

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. Sarah

    I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! I haven’t made it yet, but this will be our main course for Christmas Eve dinner this year (my first as hostess!!) My mom and I are so excited to make it–we plan on pairing it with herb risotto and a nice green salad. Thank you again! :)

  21. 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

  22. 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!

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