Thursday, 2 May 2013

Osso Bucco (with a twist)


Like most italian food Osso Bucco is simple to prepare, complex in its flavour. I love the philosophy behind Italian food, if you use great quality, fantastically fresh produce then why do you need to mess about with it? Italian food and indian food for me share something in common, the ability to extract maximum flavour from so few ingredients.
 This is a true milanese speciality, Osso Bucco means bone with a hole (a lovely marrow filled bone), this refers to the cross section of the veal shank that is traditionally used in the dish, which is slow braised with celery, carrots, onions, herbs, garlic, tomatoes and white wine.

 Now I have called this Osso bucco with a twist, I have not veered too left field of the classic in fear that I may have some very angry italians to answer to, I have however used beef shin instead of veal, purely because it much easier to source, also I have asked the butcher to give me the Shank whole, only because a whole shank is a show stopper and also because I love long strands of slow braised meat, it's irresistible to me.          
Traditionally Osso Bucco is served with risotto alla Milanese with is a saffron based risotto, I have decided to serve mine with wet polenta, I have to say it worked really well, the absolute kicker for this whole dish was the gremolata, this for me is what brings the dish to life, finely chopped raw garlic, lemon zest and parsley added just for that last minute touch, it brings all the flavours together.  We are not as fortunate as italians in the respect that english tomatoes are pretty tasteless at this time of year so I have added a little sugar to my Osso Bucco, if you can source lovely sweet tomatoes then just omit the sugar. I urge you to try this for your next dinner party, trust me silent guests is a good sign.

Buon appetito!

For the Osso bucco you will need:
a 2kg piece of shin of beef
4 sticks of celery (diced)
1 very large carrot of two smaller carrots (peeled and diced)
1 very large red onion(diced)
1 fennel bulb (diced)
2 tbsp of olive oil
100g of chopped pancetta
25g of butter
2 tbsp of flour seasoned with salt and pepper
50g chopped garlic
1 rosemary sprig
3 sprigs of fresh oregano
2 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
600g of fresh tomatoes (quartered and deseeded)
300ml of white wine
400ml of water
1x tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
1 tbsp of sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of maldon sea salt
2 tsp of  cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c. Dry the shin of beef and then coat it in the seasoned flour. Place a large casserole pan (preferably cast iron) onto a high heat and begin to melt the butter and olive oil together, brown the meat on all sides in the pan and then remove it and set it aside for later.
 In the same pan add all of the diced vegetables, garlic and pancetta and cook until they are all translucent. Add the herbs, fresh tomatoes, and wine and begin to scrape all the good stuff of the bottom of the pan. Add the tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and water to the pan and stir well until combined, then add the beef back into the pan and place in the oven for 4 1/2 hours to 5 hours, you should be able to pull the meat off the bone with ease. 

For the wet Polenta you will need:

700ml of whole milk
200ml of water
250g of polenta (fine is best)
1 tbsp of salt
2 tsp of chicken stock powder
50g of butter
100g of grated parmesan
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of  freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp of cracked black pepper

In a large saucepan place the milk, salt, nutmeg, water, stock powder, sugar Polenta and black pepper onto the heat. Using a whisk, whisk the polenta until it begins to thicken , this should take no more than five minutes with quick cook polenta, when the polenta texture is as runny and a Yorkshire pudding batter remove it from the heat because it will continue to thicken, add the butter and parmesan and continue to whisk like crazy until smooth and as thick as loose mash potato.


2 Large garlic cloves 
a handful of flat leaf parsley
the zest of a large lemon

All of the above needs to be finely chopped together and sprinkled over the plated dish.

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