Veal Ossobuco with Risotto Milanese

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Ossobuco of veal with saffron risotto


Not always easy to find, but always worth the search is the cross-cut shank of ossobuco, or osso buco.

My earliest memory of Ossobuco is from when I was about 7 years old and having dinner at my best friend's house. She was also called Hanna, so I called her Yrkki just to avoid confusion, she didn't appreciate it much. I was very much in love with her morose and slightly hostile older brother who threatened to beat us up if we ever went into his (unhealthily clean) room or touched his vast collection of neatly stacked board games. But the romance never happened for us, even though I obediently never touched his board games. Me and his sister did sneak into his room and snooped whenever he was out, obviously. But he turned down all my marriage proposals in the most ungentlemanlike manner and with very little endeavour at civility (yes I have been watching Pride and Prejudice again) and I never learned why. I thought I was quite an eligible 7-year old with my good grades, blond plaits and cute dungarees.

So during one of many sleepovers we had this mouth watering and meltingly soft, wonderful meat dish. I think that time it might have been pork. I'm not sure if I ever had it again until I started cooking myself. The dish surprisingly never was part of my mother's very broad repertoire. Which makes me think I definitely must cook this for them the next time they come and visit.

My next rendezvouz with Ossobuco was inspired by my sister who was bragging about what brilliant Ossobuco she had made and how all good wives should make it for their husbands otherwise they were not such good wives. I already have the handicap of not having taken my husband's name, which puts me behind her in the good wife competition. Although of course it's not a competition and we are not at all competitive, but very supportive sisters. But just out of interest I immediately had to try if I could make an even more fantastic version.

So I have been making this both from lamb and veal quite a few times and everytime husband's reaction confirms that this is a great man dish. I was planning to maybe do this for Christmas or New Year, but couldn't find the cut, so the other day walking past the lovely butcher's C Lidgates in Holland Park I popped in and they had beautiful thick cuts of veal.

Risotto with saffron - Risotto Milanese



Ossobuco  (feeds 2 with some leftovers depending on size of the shanks)

4  pieces osso buco veal shanks
Salt
Blackpepper
Plain flour
Rapeseed oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
2-3 fresh sprigs of thyme and/or rosemary (or 2tsp dry herbs)
2 bay leaves
water

Gremolata:
1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
Grated zest of a small lemon
1 garlic glove, minced (optional)

Season the shanks with salt and pepper and dredge with flour. You can tie some twine around the shanks to help them hold their shape during cooking, but I find the twine usually falls off anyway. Main thing to keep the shanks from falling apart is not to disturb them too much whilst cooking.

In a large Dutch oven or non-stick lidded pan heat a splash of oil over medium-high heat cook shanks in batches until lightly browned on both sides. Place browned shanks to a platter while you are browning the remaining shanks. Add oil if necessary and transfer the rest of the shanks to the platter.

Add oil to the pan, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium heat stirring continuously until vegetables are softened, around 5 minutes.

Add the wine and let reduce a little. Add the stock and tomatoes along with the veal shanks and any accumulated juices. The liquid should nearly, but not totally cover the shanks. If it doesn't, add a little water. Add the herbs and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cover.

You can either cook this on the stove keeping it simmering, or in a 170C oven. Depending on the thickness of the shanks it will take around 1.5 hours until the meat is meltingly soft. Add water if it starts looking dry.

Prepare the gremolata by mixing the minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest.

Once the meat is done, remove the twines if using and carefully mix in half of the gremolata. Try not to break the shanks.

The sauce should be nice and thick. You can adjust the consistency by adding a little water to thin it, or simmering it uncovered until the required consistency. Adjust seasoning.

Risotto milanese (serves 2)

250 g risotto rice
Vegetable oil (and butter if you like)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups hot chicken stock (and extra water if needed)
Pinch of saffron
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt
Knob of butter

Heat the oil in a non stick pan. I use just a splash of oil, but you can use half oil half butter if you like. I don't think it needs it because we will add a knob of butter in the end.

Saute the onion on low to medium heat until softened, a couple of minutes. You don't want the onion to brown at all. Add the rice and stir around until all grains are covered with oil. You can add a bit of heat now. Add white wine and cook until the wine is evaporated.

In the meanwhile heat the chicken (or veal) stock. Once the wine has more or less evaporated start adding stock to rice a couple of ladles at a time, keep stirring gently. When the rice has absorbed the stock add another couple of ladles. Keep doing this until the rice is done, about 15 min. I often add a bit more stock at a go in the beginning, but when you get closer to the rice being cooked you want to go little by little. If your rice is still not done and you have used all your stock, you can use water.

While the rice is cooking grind the saffron in a pestle and mortar and add a splash of boiling water, stir and leave to sit for a few minutes.

Once the rice is done, but still has a bit of bite stir in the saffron water and the grated parmesan. Finish by melting in a knob of butter.

Create a generous bed of risotto on a plate, place a veal shank and some sauce on the top. Garnish with some of the remaining gremolata and enjoy with a fresh salad.

Lamb ossobuco with yellow saffron risotto alla milanese
My lamb Ossobuco from previous Christmas, looks very similar,
even the same Christmas tablecloth. Risotto looks a bit drier. 


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