Well, we had a very light amount of snow this weekend. I knew it would be underwhelming. It was pretty at first, but now everything is just a bunch of gray slush, which is slightly annoying, but thankfully the weather didn’t stop the trains from running, which is always a good thing. Due to the lack of a snow storm, Kramer and I were able to wander about town all weekend. On Friday night, we went out to dinner for another fun Restaurant Week meal with an old friend of mine, Emily. Emily and I went to preschool together in Palatine, Illinois, and despite not having gone to the same elementary school, lived very close to one another and were always at each other’s houses. My family moved to Southern California when I was about 11, and hers moved to Maryland a short time after, but we were able to keep in touch sporadically throughout the years. However, with the advent of Facebook and all that the Internet has to offer, we’ve been able to get together again because she moved to New York last summer. It’s funny how things work out that way, isn’t it? Anyway, it’s so great to be able to hang out with her again after all these years. We went to Aureole, which was phenomenal. They had veal cheeks on the menu, and as various cuts of offal are usually the way to my heart, I was quite happy. On Saturday, we went to a movie with our friend Morgan (who has a fantastic web series up right now; if you look closely, you’ll see Kramer and I in the background of many an episode, specifically episode one) and Kramer’s sister Rachel, who we hadn’t seen in almost a month because she was back home in Phoenix for her winter break. We saw Carnage, which was, without a doubt, the funniest, most well done movie I have seen in a long, long time. If you haven’t heard of it, do yourself a favor and watch the trailer, then immediately go to whatever independent theater near you that is playing it and see it!
Now, on to the good stuff. I had never made osso buco before, but it was on sale at the store, so I figured, why not give it a try? The best part of osso buco is, without a doubt, the incredibly succulent tablespoon or two of bone marrow (be still, my beating heart). Osso buco actually means “bone with a hole in it”, believe it or not. I decided to coat the shanks in dijon mustard (I put mustard on almost everything), then dredge them in flour, and sear them quickly in, yes, duck fat. I kept all of the duck fat from when I made a roasted duck a few months ago, and I had the foresight to freeze it for future use. I can’t say for certain, because this is my first time making osso buco, but that duck fat really made this dish something special. It helped put a nice, browned crust on all sides of the shanks, before I made a sauce with shallots, garlic, carrots, curry paste (trust me on this one), red wine, and beef stock. After braising slowly in the oven for just over 2 hours, the meat was simply falling off the bone, just begging to be eaten with some crusty bread. I do have to say that this is my new favorite dish. If I am ever cooking for a special occasion in the future, this is, without a doubt, the dish that I will be making. Kramer and I couldn’t believe how delicious this was, and we had to stop ourselves from eating two shanks each so that we could have it for dinner again the next night (and might I say, this was even tastier after 24 hours in the fridge). Osso buco is not a fancy dish that takes a lot of time or skill, so I really hope you pick some up next time you see them on sale at the store – your taste buds will thank you a thousand times over.
Mince your garlic, shallots, and carrots, and tie your shanks tightly with one or two loops of twine, to keep them together as they braise.
Now, I was lucky enough to have some leftover duck fat in my fridge, so I used that for the ultimate indulgence. However, you can absolutely use butter in its place. Melt whatever fat you are using over high heat.
Add a bit more duck fat or butter if you need to, then reduce the heat to medium-high. Add in your shallots and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened, then add in your garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in your curry paste and caraway seeds, stir to combine, then add in your red wine and beef stock. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and bring to a boil.
Add your veal to your pan, along with your fresh herbs. Use a spoon to pour some of the wine and stock over your shanks, then cover, and place in a 325 degree F oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.
- 4 cuts of veal shanks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons duck fat (or butter)
- 2 shallots, finely minced
- 1 carrots, finely minced
- 12 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste (you can use tomato paste in its place, but the curry paste definitely elevates the dish)
- ⅛ teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 cup good red wine (do not use Two Buck Chuck for this, people)
- 2½ cups beef stock
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or any other fresh herbs you have – rosemary would work well, too)
- crusty bread, for serving
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Dry the meat with paper towels, then tie each shank with twine once around, if you have it (it will help to keep them from falling apart, as they become very tender when fully cooked – if you don’t have twine, it’ll be fine, but they will probably fall apart a bit – they will still be delicious). Rub the meat with salt and pepper, then with the dijon mustard. Dredge the meat in flour, and set aside.
- Add your duck fat (or butter) to your pan over medium-high heat. Place your veal in the pan and sear on all sides for about 4 minutes, until well browned. Transfer the browned meat to a plate and set aside.
- In the same pan, add another tablespoon of duck fat or butter. Add in the shallots and carrots and stir for 5 minutes over medium heat, until softened, then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add in the curry paste, then the wine and stock and scrape up any browned bits. Place the meat back in the pan, along with the sprigs of thyme. Place a lid on the pan and place in a 325 degree F oven for 2 to 2½ hours, until tender. Serve alongside some crusty bread and be sure to scrape out all of the bone marrow!