Monday, 24 November 2014

Osso Buco & Risotto Milanese

Osso buco means "bones with holes” or “hollow bones" and probably why it is never translated as such on even the most anglified of menus. It could be argued that slow-braised veal would certainly sound more appetising and perhaps even more accurate but the fact is that the bones , full of rich, delicious marrow rather than actually being hollow are the dish's crowning glory. And if you don’t fancy just gulping that marrow down solo then mix it in with the sauce and/or rice: you won’t get squeamed out but you will get the deliciousness.

The best-known version of course hails from Milan, where it is generally served with a vivid yellow saffron risotto Milanese. Most of the recipes I look at claim to be for 'ossibuchi alla milanese', yet seem to vary hugely. But I think this, using the most-oft cited ingredients and techniques is pretty traditional.

The risotto milanese, if perfectly traditional would also have bone marrow cooked into it but the richness of the osso bucco with the marrow from the shin bones is probably enough

I’ve wanted to make osso busso for ever. Well at least since I ate a plate of it in a ridiculously half kitsch, half grungy trattoria type place in otherwise swish Milan. I nearly swooned at the first mouthful and have thought of it often. I’ve been braving Borough Market more frequently recently and so thought I would finally buy some veal shins and cook this as soon as possible. So here it is.

A couple of things to note: firstly beware saffron bought in say, Morocco, that you presume to be real. Saffron should make the risotto milanese a vivid yellow, not the weird orangey pink as can be seen here. And do make the effort to whip up a little gremolata if you can to sprinkle over the finished dish. It will really make the flavours sing.

Osso Buco
serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
2 thick slices of veal shin, including the bone
20g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled & deseeded & finely chopped
1 strip lemon zest
100ml white wine
200ml chicken stock
sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
15g flour
grated nutmeg
salt & pepper
For the gremolata (serves 4)
½ unwaxed lemon, zest finely grated
1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
pinch of sea salt

Mix the nutmeg and salt & pepper into the flour and dust over the veal shins on both sides.

Heat the oil in a heavy based casserole over a medium heat and then fry the shins until golden on both sides.Remove and set aside.

Reduce the heat to low, add the butter to the pan and lightly fry the onion, garlic, celery and carrot with a small pinch of salt until softened but not coloured. Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute or so more.

Pour in the wine and deglaze the casserole, making sure to scrape up all struck on bits.

Reduce the wine by about half and then put the veal back in the pan along with the herbs and lemon rind and enough stock to just cover the meat.

Cover the pan with a lid and simmer gently for 1½-2 hours until very tender, turning the meat every half hour or so. Keep an eye on the stock level as you will want a thick but abundant sauce so add a little more stock as necessary.

Gently brush most of the vegetable bits off the shanks and with a flat spatula or fish slice carefully transfer the veal shanks to a dish. Strain the pan juices through a medium-mesh sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard on the solids with a spatula to extract as much sauce as you can.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and if necessary add a little cornflour mixed with a splash of water to thicken.

Serve the veal shins over some risotto milanese with the sauce poured over and some gremolata sprinkled over eveything.

Risotto Milanese
serves 2

40g butter
600ml hot chicken stock
1 small onion or a banana shallot, finely chopped
120g arborio rice
75ml white wine
1 tsp saffron
30g parmesan

Melt half the butter in a sauce pan then gently cook the onion over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until very soft but not coloured.

Turn the heat up a little and add the rice. Stir around for a minute or so until the rice is lightly toasted and coated with buttery onion then tip in the wine. Let this bubble up and absorb and reduce then crumble in the saffron.

Add the stock a ladleful at a time stirring often. Let each ladleful of stock get soaked up by the rice before adding the next.

This should take about 20 minutes: you want tender rice with the faintest amount of bite. Stir in the remaining butter and check for seasoning before stirring in the parmesan. You want the risotto to be quite oozy.

Let sit covered and off the heat for a few minutes before serving with the osso buco and gremolata.

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