3.01.2014

A Bone to Pick

I don't recall how we acquired Italy, The Beautiful Cookbook, but I do recall the first two recipes I made. Today's Osso Buco, along with a saffron risotto laced with marrow.

I am not a fan of most dishes that arrive at the dinner table with bones.

Fish dishes are the worst offenders, making it extremely difficult to carry on a conversation while surreptitiously trying to remove small bones from your mouth. Fear of choking has nothing to do with it (St. Blaise is always there behind me); it is all about emotional discomfort and embarrassment.

Chicken dishes also offend, although I know that cooking poultry on the bone gives us the best flavor and the moistest meat. There are a few chicken dishes for which I forgive them their bones: coq au vin, and my recent find of chicken in banana curry.

I think the biggest reason I don't like things served on the bone is that the act of cutting the meat resembles a wrestling match and provides the distinct possibility (which I have several times made a reality) that I will send my main course flying.

Murphy's Law dictates that this will always happen when:
   A. There are antique linens on the table;
   B. Red wine will be served and overturned onto said antique linens;
   C. Someone wearing champagne-hued shantung silk is sitting in the trajectory.

One dish for which the bone is a necessity is Osso Buco. Why? Because this is the ONE dish I can think of where the bone gives one something other than trouble. Osso buco means “hole in the bone.” It is this hole that yields marrow. I absolutely love the flavor and texture of that small amount of unctuous, silky, earthy, rich, molten marrow

An aside: I would love to have a set of marrow spoons but, really, they aren't needed to enjoy marrow. It is quite simple to slip it out with the blade of a table knife, and then enjoy it on its own, or slathered on a piece of bread, or mixed into your risotto.

Since making this dish that first time, Mark and I have seen many versions of Osso Buco on menus, all of them somewhat disappointing to us after the simple elegance of this one.

This version has no soffritto, no tomatoes, no dark gravy. It is light in flavor, and has very few ingredients other than the meat; all that is needed is lemon, anchovy (paste or filets), and fresh parsley.

Saffron risotto, the traditional side dish for Osso Buco, can be finished with marrow from bones that have been roasted separately. The addition of the marrow makes for the creamiest risotto you’ll ever experience. My thanks to Lorenza de Medici for her wonderful books filled with ancestral and traditional Italian cuisine and history.

Buon appetito!

~ David

Osso Buco alla Milanese
Minimally adapted from Italy, The Beautiful Cookbook by Lorenza de Medici
 

4 slices veal shank, about 1-inch thick
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (or 1 anchovy fillet, chopped)
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Dredge veal shanks in flour, and shake off excess. Melt butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the shanks on both sides in the butter - about 5 minutes total.


Add the wine and allow to evaporate completely.


Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer the meat for 1 1/2 hours, adding water a little at a time to keep just a little liquid in the bottom of the pan.


Remove shanks and place them on a warmed plate.


Add the anchovy paste, lemon zest and lemon juice, and mix well. Return shanks to skillet and turn to coat on both sides.


Sprinkle with parsley and serve with saffron risotto.


Makes 4 servings.

36 comments:

  1. Fried chicken? You will eat that on the bone, right? Osso Buco is a dish where I wish I could eat the bone (like a dog). Actually I think I have... GREG

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    1. Busted! Yes, Greg, I do eat fried chicken on the bone... but I have also been known to eat it with a knife and fork. (And, yes, I was called names...) Yep, gnawing and sucking on that bone ain't pretty, but it sure does taste good!

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    1. Thanks, Liz! I had forgotten how simple this lovely dish was!

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  3. Saffron! :) I totally agree with you - and Persians looooooove sucking the marrow out of bones at the table. As a kid this made me shudder, but you make it sound so.... sophisticated to do with a knife! Looks amazing, and as always i adore your china.

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    1. That made me smile, Ahu - I guess you would have to see me desperately digging onto my marrow bone to see just how UNsophisticated I am! I thought about buying marrow bones the other day just to make the saffron risotto with marrow!

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  4. hahaha! I was having a good laugh reading your post. Bones are trouble but like you said, sometimes they are needed. Indian curries almost always need bones and I always prefer the chicken curries with bones, though they are fidgety. Of course, Indian food is also eaten with fingers so the bones are easily taken care of! This osso buco looks gorgeous! I made it once and it was fantastic. Love the taste of marrow in this. And your saffron risotto is lovely. Remind me to make you some Indian nihari if you ever come this way, its also made with shanks and has a wonderful flavour from the marrow and....bones :)

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    1. Nihari sounds wonderful - I looked it up but don't see any reference to marrow - do you cook it with marrow bones? I do make my chicken curries (sometimes) on the bone, but with all the turmeric, there will be NO tablecloth! :)

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    2. Typically, in the old world, it's made with lamb feet and shanks. Modernised versions are using beef and marrow bones. I make mine with beef shanks and lots of marrow bones. Ugh, I destroyed my tablecloth the other day by dropping incredibly yellow curry. Oh well, good excuse for a new one :)

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    3. I like the way you think - good excuse for a new tablecloth! Nihari sounds so good, either with lamb or beef.

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  5. Watch out for the flying chicken bone! You have a firm point regarding bones in food. I only really have a problem with bones in fish. Everything else doesn't bother me so much. And as for a bone that harbours marrow, well, I have no bones to pick with that! Marrow is one of the joys in life.

    I must say, I've never seen an osso bucco like the one you've plated here. It looks divine. Almost like a French version of the stodgy Italian one I'm used to seeing. I wouldn't say no to this!

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    1. John - this was our first osso buco and is still our favorite. the one with the gravy just seems to much for the delicate meat.

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  6. Great post David.. I was picturing a "Pretty Woman" moment with you in a fancy restaurant and your chicken bone flying across to land on someone else's table :) This is such a great recipe, I can't believe there are so few ingredients and it just looks so delicious!

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    1. Karen - I always picture that scene in pretty woman, but there is never anyone to catch it after I have sent it flying! I do love recipes with few ingredients - the flavors really shine.

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  7. Your meal looks wonderful. One of my favorite Italian dishes...my husband and I were just talking this weekend about making it again soon. I have to drive about 45 minutes down to a market in Massachusetts to buy nice veal shanks so I have to plan ahead.

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    1. Karen - When I lived in Kittery, Maine, the butcher (Carl's) always had them on hand. How close are you to Kittery?

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  8. We are truly kindred spirits - the likelihood of me having a spaz attack rapidly increases when we have company or use vintage linens!

    It never ceases to amaze me how American cooks like to over-complicate Italian food. Granted, some dishes need to stew, braise, or simmer, but many more are as fresh and simple as yours. Very nicely presented!

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    1. Thanks for making me feel better, Susan!

      I also knew you would appreciate the simplicity of this, having lived in Italy.

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  9. You are so funny, and I feel exactly the same way about bones! Thought I'm okay with them with rack of lamb (in a lollypop sort of way). And yes, of course in this dish, which as always looks AMAZING!

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    1. OMG - I completely forgot to mention that I love - LOVE - rack of lamb and don't mind the bones there at all! Thanks for the reminder, Valentina. And that also reminds me that I should post my mother's recipe for rack of lamb soon.

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  10. Hello, my name is Karin, and I'm a gnawer....I come from a family of gnawers...my Oma could get every speck of meat from any bone on the plate, always saving a small piece of bread to spread the marrow on as the finale to a gastronomic opera. So while I don't share your loathing of skeleton, I do absolutely understand it, especially the launching of haunch across the table (and onto that silk).
    Osso buco is one of my favorite special occasion meals (my mom and I have had it more than once at our non-turkey thanksgiving feasts, and I even had it on Thanksgiving in Tuscany (where it was an ordinary Thursday evening locally.) Thanks for sharing, fellow marrow fan! xo

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    1. I know, Karin - save the silk at all costs! :) I love the idea of osso buco for an ordinary Thursday. That sounds so right!

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  11. Well, David, this looks extraordinarily delicious - the risotto has a wonderful color from the saffron but what I like even better is the osso buco - which I love by the way - I really like this recipe, it sounds so much more wonderful that the ones that I have been making in the past - since I am going to the butcher tomorrow, I will keep my eyes open for some lovely veal shanks as I would love to give this recipe a try - have not seen anchovy paste around her though...will have to use the jar version then. Tolles Rezept und tolle Fotos!
    Thanks for sharing such a lovely recipe and such fabulous pictures!
    Ganz herzliche Grüße aus Bonn - am Wochenende soll es bis zu 18 Grad werden - mal sehen!
    Andrea

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    1. Thanks so much, Andrea - I am so pleased you like the looks of this version of osso buco! You can definitely use a couple of anchovies fillets chopped finely instead of the paste - it works beautifully. Ich hoffe, dass Dein Wochenende so schön ist, wie vorausgesagt! Ganz lieb Grüße ~ David

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  12. That is the signature dish of the city I live, and I have to say your version looks AMAZING! I have to say, I have never seen such perfect, tidy ossobuchi... they are a lot larger and 'sprawling' here in Italy!

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    1. Fiona - that makes me so happy to hear, especially form someone living in Milano who sees this on a regular basis. I love the concept of a 'sprawling' osso buco!

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  13. Chicken in Banana Curry? And where is this recipe?

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    1. It's coming soon, Susan! If you need it sooner, let me know! :)

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  14. This was my father-in-law's signature dish and was always a treat. Your version, as you wrote, looks much lighter. I will give it a whirl soon--perfect for this weather!

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    1. I think the lightness is what we love so much, Susan. The Milanese version is so different from all the others. And, yes, perfect for 3 degree weather...

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  15. I've never seen anchovy paste sold like that! Very convenient! I am a huge fan of osso bucco. You manage to make it look so elegant... when I make it, it's delicious but much 'messier' on the plate :) The saffron rice sounds like a perfect accompaniment to the succulent meat and wine infused sauce. Another perfect meal David!

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    1. I bet you could find the anchovy paste in an Italian imports store. Reese brand is pretty popular here. And, again, thanks for your really nice comments!

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  16. I have this cookbook and whenever I look through it, I kick myself for not using it more often! Your osso bucco looks divine! I think I need to make this one! CC

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    1. Christina - I sometimes forget I have the book, too - because it is so tall, I have to shelve it elsewhere and not with the cookbooks. I am trying to remember it is there more!

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  17. My father would absolutely love this dish, D.
    It's so elegant. What a treat!

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