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Serve with bread for dippingFriday.  Sigh.

It’s raining ice here.  How’s the weather where you are?  Also, after waking up the last two mornings at 5 and laying in bed last night until 11 giggling with Jay, I’m a little droopy today.

It was worth it, because he’s cute.

This is, like, totally the best meal for cold days when you’re feeling droopy.  It’s not hard at all, but it does require a little bit of chopping.  You can use any meat in the world that you’d like, and the cheaper the better!   Since we braise it for so long it falls apart and gets so tender even if you use something that would usually be really tough.

Traditionally Osso Bucco is made with veal shank.  If you would like to purchase baby animal thighs, please be my guest!  I prefer adult dead animal thighs.

It’s a moral issue, you see.

Not really.  You know that.  Dead animal is dead animal, and I’ve chosen to consume them from time to time.  I go the beef or other meat route for cost and availability purposes, usually.  Also worth noting:  I’ve made this with bone-in, skin-on chicken before.  I’ve made this with boneless pork ribs (called country-style, usually).  I’ve made this with pork shoulder cut into chunks. I’ve made just the sauce and spooned it over grilled white fish.

It works beautifully, every single time.  So, use whatever protein you’d like!  On this particular day I found something super cheap in the store called “beef shank for soup.”  Um…ok!  This is kind of like soup, so I went with it.  Also, my dogs like femur bones more than other kinds of bones.  So…they got them after I cooked the meat.  Turns out, they REALLY like femur bones when they’re covered with saffron tomato white wine sauce.  Snobs.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need, for 4 portions plus leftovers:

  • 4 -5 lbs beef shank or any other braising meat
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 medium or 2 large carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock (approx, I used 1 13 oz can)
  • 20 oz crushed or whole tomatoes, broken into bits (2/3 of a large can, or the whole can if you enjoy more tomato-y flavors)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 1 cup water
  • crusty bread, for serving

For the Gremolata (herb topping):

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

So there you have it.  All easy ingredients, but definitely a list.  Trust me, though.  I promise this is all worth it. First, let’s heat a large pan to medium-high heat with the olive oil, and salt and pepper the meat all over. When the pan is hot, add the meat to the pan and LET IT WORK.  Don’t fidget with it.  It’ll stick, then as it cooks it’ll unstick from the pan when it’s ready to flip.  This could take 5 or up to 10 minutes.

Start meat to sear

Also at this beginning stage, preheat the oven to 325F.  While the meat is searing, let’s cut the carrots!  I just scrub them, cut off the tops, then cut them into 4 inch sections that I can work with.

Cut carrots into chunks

Then, I cut each section into thin planks, then into small strips. Then, I cut the strips into little bits.  We’re going for a fine chop on everything here, because as the sauce cooks the little bits of veggie break down and come all together and it’s GLORIOUS.  Trust me.  You can use a chopper or food processor to make this part go faster!

Cut carrots into little bits

Now, the meat might be ready to flip!  When the first side is really dark, flip it over and turn the heat down to medium – the pan will stay hot but gradually cool off for when we’re ready to start the veggies.

Flip meat to second side

Cut the celery the same way you did the carrots.  Thin strips, then small bits.

Celery chopped into bits

Pretty!  These are ready to go.  I start the celery and carrot before the onion since they take a bit longer to cook.

Chopped celery and carrot

When the meat is very brown and crusty on both sides, remove it to a plate to rest until we need it again.  Now we’re going to make the sauce.

Let meat rest

Add the chopped carrots and celery to the moderately-hot pot with all the yummy meat drippings.  Sprinkle them with salt and add the crushed red pepper, too.

Start

Stir the veggies around, and let’s get to the onion!  Just like the carrot, chop it really finely.  Cut it into planks…

Cut onion half into planks

…then stack the planks up and cut them into strips…

Cut onion planks into strips

….then chop up little bits of onion.

Finely chop onion

When the carrots and celery have been cooking for about 5 minutes, add the onion to the pot.  Stir it around.

Add onion to softened hard veggies

Now, the garlic.  Crush it with the side of your knife to remove the peel.

Smash the garlic

Then, chop up the whole mess really finely.  I chop all 4 garlic cloves here and reserve a little bit for the gremolata, which we’ll make while the meat is braising.

Finely chop garlic

Add the garlic to the pot, and stir everything around for 2 minutes.

Add garlic to softened veggies

While the garlic starts to cook, grab the tomato paste!  If the veggies are starting to brown, add another drizzle of olive oil and/or turn down the heat.  The veggies should be softening but not grilling to death.

Tomato paste

And, prep the herbs (rosemary and thyme) by stripping the leaves from the stems.

Strip thyme and rosemary from stems

Then, chop the herbs into little bits.

Finely chop thyme and rosemary

Add the tomato paste and the herbs to the pot, and stir them around for one minute.

Add tomato paste and herbs to chopped veggies

Then, add the wine!  Stir the wine until it’s evaporated by half.  You may need to turn the heat up a little bit to get the liquids boiling.

Add wine to veggies

When the wine has bubbled and reduced a bit, add the tomatoes and chicken stock.

Add chicken stock to veggies

Stir everything together, and crush the saffron into the sauce with your fingers.

Add saffron to sauce

Yum!  Stir this all together, and taste it.  Add another sprinkle of salt, if you’d like.

Let sauce simmer for 2 minutes before adding meat

Then, slide the meat back into the sauce with any juices.  Cover the pot, and put it in the oven for HOURS.  The cooking time will totally depend on what kind of meat you have, but this particular batch was super tender after 2.5 hours.  You can’t overcook this kind of dish, though, so start as early as you think you need – the dish will stay hot for a long time if it gets done way before you’re ready to eat.

Add beef back to sauce to braise

Now, let’s grab our gremolata ingredients so that when the osso bucco is done we can EAT.

Ingredients for gremolata

Chop the parsley, dill, and garlic together on the cutting board – just move the knife over and over the mixture.  Sprinkle the salt over everything.

Chop parsley with garlic and salt

Then, zest the lemon directly onto the herb mixture.  Nice.

Zest lemon over parsley

Use your fingers to gently mix everything together.  This smells REALLY good, and you can make it to go over anything!

Blend zest into parsley with fingers

Set the gremolata aside for when you’re ready to serve.

gremolata ready for topping

Then, mix the cornstarch with the water so it’s ready too, and go watch an entire movie.  Or take a nap.  Or drink heavily.  It’s your life.

Mix cornstarch with water

After a decade and a half, check on the meat.  When the bones are totally separated from the meat and the meat cuts with a SPOON, you’re ready to go!  Let the meat get as tender as you have time for.

Let simmer until bones fall off

Remove the osso bucco from the oven and set it back on the stove over medium heat.  It’ll be super hot – be careful!  Give it a nice stir to scrap up any bits from the bottom or sides of the pot. Then, dump in the cornstarch mixture and stir it in for 3 minutes until it bubbles and thickens slightly. Taste the osso bucco, and add more salt or crushed red pepper if you like.

Add cornstarch last then taste

That’s it, kids!  I know you’re relieved to know that, yes, there is an end to this.  I know this seems long, but it’s really simple and SUCH great weekend food.  I promise you’ll love it!

Top with gremoulata

I serve this in bowls with crusty bread and gremolata over top.

Serve with bread for dipping

Try this soon – there’s no need to go to a restaurant for osso bucco – I promise.

Serve alongside bread

Happy Friday!

Submitted to Weekend Potluck.  So delicious, it needs to be shared!

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