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So, I’m a little late September 29, 2010

Posted by Peeps in Cooking, Food, random stuff.

Okay, the other day I had troubles trying to post.  I got them all straightened out.

A couple weeks ago, Toys happened to drive by a local butcher shop.  And noticed they had something delightful on sale.  She mentioned it to me, and I stopped by there on my way home from work the next day.  Because with the cooler temperatures starting to arrive, what could be better than braised veal shanks?  It’s ossobuco time!

Now, a great many recipes for ossobuco are tomato based.  And while they’re mighty good, I’ve always thought they tended to bury the delicate flavor of the veal.  Toys found a recipe several years ago for ossobuco bianco.  It’s very bright and flavorful and lets the veal shine.  We haven’t had it in years, what with the cost of veal shanks.  It was time.

It’s very important to try to get your shanks as close to the same size as you can.  It helps with uniform cooking. Oh, and you’re going to want to preheat your oven to 225 degrees.
I once read in Cook’s Illustrated that tying the veal shanks helps keep them from falling apart while cooking and makes for a nice presentation. Okay, it’s a little thing. But I trust them. They don’t generally just have you do things for no reason at all.
You then salt and pepper your shanks on both sides and then dip in flour, being sure to shake off the excess. While you’re doing this, you should have a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter melting in a large, heavy Dutch oven. Once that’s hot, in go your shanks.
You want to make sure they get nice and brown on both sides. Then you want to add about 2/3 of a cup of dry white wine.
Let that reduce unto the wine is almost gone. What’s left should almost be a syrup. Once that’s ready, add enough chicken broth to the pan to come about halfway up the sides of the shanks.
Let that come up to a simmer. Cover your pot and bung it into the oven. Leave it alone for a couple hours. Two would probably be fine, depending on the size of your shanks. Ours were about a pound each. So we let them cook three hours. It’s a braise. It’s okay if it cooks a little long.
While you’re waiting, you want to get the gremolata ready. What’s that? One of the best seasoning blends ever devised, that’s what. Take a couple cloves of garlic, the zest of one lemon and about a tablespoon of fresh parsley. Mince them together.
When you can slide a fork into your shanks without resistance, they’re ready. Remove from the oven and add the gremolata to the pot.
Let it sit for a couple minutes for the flavors to combine and you’re ready to eat.
Traditionally, this should be served with risotto Milanese. And if you’re that ambitious, more power to you. Plain rice would be just fine, as well. We decided to go with polenta.
Make sure to have plenty of bread handy to make sure that none of the sauce escapes.
But that’s not the end of the story. We had a little bit of the meat left over. It’s not a light meal. We also had some of the sauce left over. And we were feeling a tiny bit guilty about spending so much on one meal, even though the shanks were on sale for the lowest price I’ve seen in years. So, we re-purposed the leftovers. And got to learn a couple things at the same time.
We decided to make beans. We like them a lot. And years ago, Toys made up a recipe from leftover lamb shanks and white beans, so we already knew we could have a major winner here.
So, first thing in the morning, we got a pound of great northern beans soaking. Once they’d soaked for four hours, they went into the pressure cooker. Yes, the pressure cooker. You see, Toys found someone who does this on a regular basis and had scads of information on cooking all kinds of beans under pressure.
To the beans, we added the leftover sauce from the ossobuco. We added a little more white wine and another pint of chicken broth to make sure the beans were covered by about an inch of liquid. Then we clamp on the cover.
Once everything is under pressure (when it starts making the proper noises), we’re ready to start the timer. Beans normally take hours of cooking time. In the pressure cooker, not so much. We set the time for twelve minutes. That’s it.
After the twelve minutes are up, the heat goes off and we wait for the pressure to come down. Once we can safely open the pot, we took a little taste. And had perfectly cooked beans. In twelve minutes. Dude.
But while the beans were perfectly cooked, they still weren’t quite right yet. So, we drained off some of the liquid that was left. We had about two cups worth, and Toys thought we could cook some rice in it. Okay, I can work with that.
Then some of the beans got mashed. Not many, just enough to thicken everything.
Much better. Whole tender beans in a think, creamy sauce. Almost there.
Stir in the shredded leftover meat, and you’re set. Make some rice, and serve the beans over it. You have another seriously wonderful meal, with leftovers for another day. And you feel virtuous for being thrifty, besides.
There is nothing like Fall comfort food.



1. Joanna - September 29, 2010

Wow, that looks lovely! I love the white beans! I posted my favorite osso buco a few weeks ago and, yes, it is tomato based!

Peeps - September 29, 2010

It’s worth doing for no other reason that having the leftovers to play with. Even though the original dish was really good. Try it, you may never use tomatoes in ossobuco again.

2. mazco34 - September 29, 2010

C and I would love this, except that C doesn’t like veal, beans or rice.

She does like chicken broth, garlic, and lemon.

And beer. Have I mentioned that she likes beer?

Peeps - September 29, 2010

Nothing wrong with beer. Unless you put chicken broth garlic and lemon in it.

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