Elegant Italian Comfort Food

You'd think having an Italian mother I would have a family recipe for osso buco. But my mom's family didn't hail from that part of Italy. So on page 137 of The Silver Palate Cookbook you will find what I used to make my first osso buco more years ago than I care to count backwards to!

A really good osso buco has a slightly tangy taste, a rich depth of flavor created by the layering of flavors. As is my way, I fiddled with the recipe until the ingredients made me (and Picky Paul) happy. After many, many efforts, I managed to construct an osso buco that I can confidently serve to guests knowing it will satisfy even the most discriminating palate.

That doesn’t mean I’m actually finished with my osso buco recipe. My osso buco will be forever “evolving”. That’s what good cooking is all about for me.

OSSO BUCO
6 one pound bone-in lamb shanks or bone-in veal shanks (or a combo of both)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely grated
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
½ cup Chianti or other dry red table wine
2 cups whole or chopped canned tomatoes
1 sprig rosemary (1/4 teaspoon dry)
4 sprigs thyme (1/2 teaspoon dry)
2 bay leaves
2 cups low sodium low fat chicken or beef broth
¼ cup all purpose flour (for dredging meat before browning)
Salt and pepper to taste

Gremolata

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Set the oven at 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallot, garlic, carrots, peppers, sage, thyme and rosemary. Cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a French oven. Add the tomatoes and mix.

Dredge the meat lightly with flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Turn the heat to medium. Set two pieces at a time of meat in the pan and cook for 2 minutes on a side or until the meat is browned. Transfer to the baking pan. Continue cooking the pieces of meat, two at a time, until all the meat is browned and transferred to the pan.

Pour the wine into the skillet and cook, scraping down the sides, until the wine reduces by half then pour the wine over the meat. Add enough of the stock needed to barely cover the meat. Cover pan before placing it on the middle shelf of the oven. Cook the meat for 1 1/2 hours, basting with the liquid in the dish once or twice during cooking. Remove the cover and continue baking for another hour.

Meanwhile, stir parsley with lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix well. Spoon the meat and some of the vegetables over perfectly steamed white rice or a generous scoop of mashed potatoes (I like parmesan whipped potatoes better than the traditional rice). Garnish with a small spoonful of the parsley mixture. Makes 4-6 yummy servings.

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