This osso buco recipe turns the lowly shank into a fine-dining creation. You can use the shanks from any big game animal with equally great results for this osso buco recipe.
When I’m butchering, I simply wrap my shanks in plastic wrap and freezer paper and then freeze them whole. When I’m ready to cook this dish, I unwrap the shanks and slice them into 2-1/2-inch-thick discs while they’re still frozen.
You can use a standard hacksaw and blade for this job, which is easy and clean. When they are still partially frozen, I tie them around the middle with butcher’s twine, which helps keep them together while cooking.
While this dish is technically just a simple braise, it ends up being quite fancy. It’s perfect for when you want to impress the in-laws or any other special guests.
Two shanks (about 5 pounds total) cut into 2-to 3-inch-thick cylinders, tied around the middle with butcher’s twine
Freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dredging
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch rounds
1 rib celery, sliced into 1/3-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry red or white wine
2 quarts vegetable stock (or water)
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh sage, rolled and chopped thin
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano
Polenta (recipe below, or substitute store-bought and reheat according to the package instructions)
4 cups water
Pinch kosher salt
l cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tbsp butter
Milk as needed
- Heat an 8- to 10-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Season the shank discs well with salt and pepper.
- Lightly dredge the discs in flour.
- Add the oil to the pot and swirl to coat. When the oil starts to shimmer, sear the shank discs in batches (avoid overcrowding the pan, which will steam the meat). When the meat is well browned on all sides, remove to a plate. Be careful not to burn the bits on the bottom of the pan, as it will impart a bitter flavor.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until the onions are browned.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Push the vegetables to one side of the pot. Add the tomato paste to the empty side of the pot and let it begin to caramelize a little. Once it darkens, stir the tomato paste into the vegetables.
- Add the wine to the pot and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to reduce slightly.
- Return the meat to the pot. Add enough stock to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
- Skim off and discard any scum that accumulates on the surface.
- Stir in the thyme, rosemary, and sage.
- Cover the pot and cook at a bare simmer until the meat is fork-tender, 3-1/2-4 hours. Check halfway through to make sure there is still enough liquid covering the meat; add more if needed.
- About 30 minutes before the meat is done, make the polenta in a 4-to 6-quart pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt.
- Whisking constantly to avoid lumps, slowly add the polenta in a thin stream.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to stir for 15-20 minutes until the polenta becomes thick and large bubbles form (kind of like a volcano).
- Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and the butter.
- Set aside, covered. Add milk if needed to loosen up the polenta when you serve it.
- When the shanks are fork tender, remove them from the oven and carefully remove the strings with kitchen shears.
Divide the polenta among the dinner plates. Top each puddle of polenta with a shank piece. Spoon the sauce and the vegetables over the meat. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish. Serve immediately with grated cheese.