Monday, April 25, 2011

osso buco

I tried really hard to get veal shanks that originated somewhere around here.

This recipe calls for a whole shank, 3 to 4 pounds. I didn't expect to find those at a supermarket, and we don't really have real butchers around here, so I started out with two specialty purveyors I know. Both could get cut shanks. Neither could get whole.

I called a couple of ranches between here and Ocala. Most of them didn't deal in veal. One of them told me that their veal didn't have legs. Which, I mean, I've heard horror stories about veal, but I've never heard that.

Then one day I was in Whole Foods for something else, and figured I'd ask.

"Yeah, of course we have that. We cut them ourselves, but you can buy it whole if you want."

Glad I asked.

Whole Foods gets their veal from a consortium of ranchers in Wisconsin, so, so much for a local cow, but at that point I was committed. I read the mission statement of the consortium, and it said they are pastured, raised on mother's milk, antibiotic and hormone free. The calves, I mean. Not the consortium.

Anyway, since I was making this for eight, I got extra shanks, and that made this the most expensive dish in the book so far. Until I get to the stuff with truffles. Then all bets are off.

The dish was pretty easy. It started by putting the shanks in the biggest roasting pan that will fit in my oven.

Then I browned the shanks on the cooktop. Since I used a big roaster, I had to do it over two burners.

Then added the vegetables.

Then added wine, stock and tomato sauce.

Then put it in the oven and forgot about it for a couple of hours while I made everything else for the dinner.

At the last minute, made the gremolata to go over it. The photo at the top of the post is as it was taken to the table. Yes, a little sloppy again. I wasn't so much styling that night.

Also, made two contorni from the book to serve with this dish:

Polenta: Too easy to get its own post. I made it to the recipe. Sort of. I substituted grits for polenta. I buy stone-ground organic grits whenever we go to South Carolina. I love polenta, but I'll take these grits every time. Every. Time. The only other ingredients are water and mascarpone. I used those as directed.

And broccoli rabe: Boiled and shocked, then sauteed with some anchovy. Just fine.

I have to say, going with the whole shanks is really cool. The cut shanks are nice for individual presentation, but the whole shanks, served family style, was pretty primal. Especially when everyone started looking for tools to use to extract marrow.

Not naming names.

Up next: strawberries and peaches with balsamic zabaglione


Z. Marie said...

Hmmm, I don't think I've ever seen this with whole shanks, probably because of the individual presentation thing. Yours looks awesome, though.

Unknown said...
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web said...

Not naming names. LOL.

Alan said...

The whole shank is new to me too. You were able to finish that off? Looks intimidating -- it's a pretty rich piece of meat.

jim webster said...

well, there were eight of us. we actually only ate 2 of the 3 shanks, but the other one became awesome leftovers.

jim webster said...

and thanks, z. you're being kind. that photo of the finished dish didn't do it justice.

Alan said...

Ah, sure, of course -- family style. My bad. Looks like fun, actually. Osso buco's one of my favorites; my mom's been making it for years, used to go down to a butcher on Arthur Avenue to get the shanks. (Those trips to Arthur Ave. are among the few things I get nostalgic about.)