Osso Buco Uno

Spending your night alone doesn't mean you have to settle for a pathetic meal of chopped hot dogs over boxed mac & cheese #treatyoself.  Becoming a professional single guy/gal involves a little effort and a little more stick–to–itiveness.  As though you were in a relationship with yourself, not putting in enough effort will lead to the ending of said relationship.  'But Mr. Leahy how can you breakup with yourself?'.  Easy.  You can dig down in the depths of dating app hell and swipe right on every mouth breathing mongol who runs across your greasy iPhone screen.  You can waste years married to a person you hate but didn't find you as repulsive as the rest of society.  You can have several children that look like Benjamin Button without the possibility of turning into a motorcycle riding fisherman hunk.  

It's time to get a little more picky and reject the notion that your seltzer budget can't accommodate your champagne taste.  Every so often you have to ignore the price, do as Fabolous (and at times The-Dream) says and put it in the bag.

THE BRAISE

Typically Osso Buco is made with Veal instead of Lamb, however this recipe works for both and full disclosure I had a half dozen Lamb shanks in the freezer.  Regardless of the protein you choose, the steps and time spent cooking should be about the same.  This is a relatively easy recipe to make, minus the risotto, but anticipate a lengthy wait until get to enjoy the finished product.  With any tough cut of meat on the bone you'll need two things; time and low heat.  The first step is making a brizayze:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of red wine, above is a glass of Pinot Noir
  • 1-2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lamb shank, this can easily braise 2 shanks (easily substitute Lamb for Veal if need be)
  • 1 peeled garlic clove
  • 1 large chopped shallot
  • 2 medium chopped carrots, not peeled
  • 2 stalks of chopped celery
  • 2-3 strips of bacon
  • Lemon peel
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs of each fresh herb (thyme, oregano & rosemary)

Not Shown:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons of corn starch, you can also make a rue out of flour and butter

On the left is all-purpose flour that is seasoned with salt & pepper, and the right is our lamb shank that has been patted dry.  Dredge (cover & shake free) the lamb shank on the flour so that every single surface is coated in flour.

Your shank should look something like this.  You can do this the night before and leave it in the fridge, however just like any land dwelling animal leave it out on your counter to warm up to room temperature before cooking.

If you want to use oil instead of bacon fat you can skip the next few steps...

BACON OIL

Place the bacon into a cold pan and turn the heat to high.

Once it starts to brown, turn the heat down to medium and let the bacon get as crispy as possible before it burns.  The crispier the bacon the more fat (renders) results for cooking.  I tell myself this is healthier than oil/butter, so I use it to cook any stews and/or braised meats.

The first commandment of cooking is 'thou shall not waste good bacon'.  This isn't going back in the braise but you can always use it in an omelet or in my case over a Cobb salad. 

Strain off any excess oil and leave enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan, leaving any browning at the bottom of the pan.

Take your flour covered shank and brown it in the bacon fat, this should take a few minutes each side over high heat.  Don't worry about over cooking anything here but try not to burn anything (as always).

Once all the sides are browned set the shank aside and no it shouldn't be ready to eat if you were thinking of trying.

Here is a better shot of the vegetables going into the braise, these are only for flavor so do not fuss over the uniformity of your vegetables.  You can leave the skin on the carrots and you don't have to peel the garlic, I wouldn't chop anything if it all fit in the pan whole.

Place everything into the same pot and crank the heat to high.

Brown the vegetable and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as you stir.

In case you have not noticed, I use a fair amount of tomato paste.  Plop a tablespoon into the pan.

Coat the vegetable in tomato paste and brown slightly (medium heat).

Add the wine, turn the heat up to the max and bring the wine up to a rolling boil (lots of bubbles).  Use a spatula/spoon to scrape the bottom/sides of the pan until nothing is left but clean pan and your braise.

Cook down the wine mixture by about half and turnt down the heat.

Add the chicken stock and aromatics (herbs and lemon peel) to the braise.  Turn the heat back up until the liquid is simmering again.

Your braising liquid should be fairly shallow, add your meat and the liquid should submerge about half the shank.  If you have too little liquid add more chicken stock, and if you have too much you probably did something wrong along the way.  This isn't boiled cabbage & corn beef you mick bastard... pour some liquid out, leave no more than half the meat submerged and place in the oven.  

Your oven should be preheated to 325 degrees and your pot covered.  Take a nice long break, drink the rest of that bottle of wine and relax because you have 2-1/2 to 3 hours before the shank will be done.

After about 2-1/2 hours this is what 1 shank should look like.  The meat is falling off the bone and the only way I could move it to the plate was using a set of tongs & a spoon.

Cover with aluminum foil loosely, I pitch a tin foil tent but not too tight that you steam your meat.

You like sauce?  Well here is a quick way to use that braising liquid to make a gravy:

THE GRAVY

Strain off the liquid from the vegetables into a bowl (measuring cup seen above with 1-1/4 cups of liquid).

Put the liquid back into the same pot and place back on medium-high heat.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch and stir into the sauce with a whisk.  Keep adding corn starch until you reach a desire consistency, I added somewhere between 1-2 tablespoons for a total of 1-1/4 cups of liquid.

Bring to a boil and cook the mixture down more to achieve a thicker gravy, keep adding small amounts (1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon) of corn starch into the sauce if you are not happy with the thickness.  This whole process is quick and can be done during the cooking of the risotto.

What is Osso Buco without some risotto?

TRADITIONAL RISOTTO

Ingredients (from left to right):

  • Frozen green peas
  • 1 cup of Arborio white rice
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, approximately 1-1/2 with a microplane
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, you can use salted butter however using unsalted you can always add more salt later
  • 4-6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large shallot, diced fine
  • 1 glass of white wine, Chardonnay shown above

Dice a shallot as fine as you can, above you can see how to dice any onion-like vegetable.  Slice horizontally followed by the vertical cuts into the shallot and finally cutting off tiny cubes of shallot (if that doesn't makes sense, I tried but I am not sorry).

Add your shallots into a pan coated in oil over medium heat, along with a pinch of salt.  Cook the shallot for a few minutes (5 minutes approximately) browning them until translucent.

Add your rice (1 cup) & butter (1 tbs) into the hot pan, coating everything in the pan and constantly moving it around to not burn the rice.

Add in your wine and cook down by half, when that has reduced add in a cup of chicken broth at a time.  This is where the photos stopped being taken and my time was dedicated to keep the risotto moving in the pan.  Use a spatula or spoon to constantly move the mixture in the pan, not allowing it to burn/stick to the bottom of the pan.  Once the rice has absorbed the chicken broth continue to add more chicken broth, constantly stirring the mixture.  This takes up to 20 minutes of the risotto simmering over medium-high heat.

About halfway into the cooking process take a moment to taste the rice before adding another cup of broth.  If the texture is 'al dente'  and there is still some liquid left over (as shown above) you are close to done.  Add in your cheese and stir into the risotto.

Make sure you taste the rice before you add the peas (about a handful) because any additional time over the stove with turn the peas into mush.  If you don't know how it should taste you're a horrible person but it should resemble the texture of regular white rice.  Turn the heat off but leaving the pot on the hot stove, add in any salt & pepper to taste.

Grate some cheese over the top of the finished product and you have yourself a meal fit for a king.  Yes it took a few hours, but you deserved it.  

Post cooking thoughts:

Don't change anything, this was perfect.  Cue the self gratification!