One of the most satisfying dishes to eat is Osso Buco. It is traditionally made with veal shanks but this version with pork is equally delicious and as a bonus, pork is inexpensive. The shanks contain a large bone in the middle of the meat, adding lots of flavor to this dish. Even if you are a new cook, this dish is super easy to prepare and I guarantee lots of happy diners.
Osso buco is a dish that needs to cook for about 2½ hours, so plan accordingly. The prep is very easy – the meat is seared, removed from the pot and then a soffritto, a mixture of vegetables, is cooked. Then all the other ingredients are added and the meat is returned to the pot, covered and cooked in the oven, low and slow. What results is an incredibly delicious sauce with meat that is just falling off the bone. Traditionally, it is served with Risotto Milanese, a beautiful golden risotto dish flavored with saffron. You can also serve it with pasta or polenta.
The shanks should be pretty thick – I like ones that about two inches thick. When you buy them, they will very likely come with the skin on over the layer of fat. Many people leave this skin on and you can certainly do that. However, I don’t like it and I cut it off before I cook the shanks. It’s easy to do with a very sharp knife. If you cut the skin off, you will now need to tie the shanks with twine to keep the meat from falling off the bone. This step is not necessary, but just nice when serving the shanks because it keeps them from falling apart and makes them nice to serve a whole shank on a plate.
Most recipes call for dredging the pork in flour, but I do not do that. I feel that the flour tends to burn a little in the searing process and I would rather just have a nice rich fond form on the bottom of the pot from the meat.
There is a version which leaves out the tomato altogether. It’s delicious and pairs very well with the risotto and the gremolata. It’s essentially the same recipe, just omitting the tomato. A good reason to cook the dish twice!
The finished dish is sprinkled with gremolata, a zingy mixture of raw parsley, garlic and lemon zest that is delicious. Serve extra on the side so your diners can add more as they eat their osso buco.
for a printable recipe, click here
you will need kitchen twine for this recipe
salt and pepper
¼ cup packed finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 lemon, zested
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
I like to trim the skin off the shank and then wrap twine around it,
securing the meat to the bone.
I like to remove the skin from the pork shanks. This is entirely personal preference and you can keep it on if you want. The pork has plenty of fat, but I also trim any real big pieces of fat from the outside of the shanks. I make sure not to trim all the fat off, though. Take the kitchen twine and tie it around each shank, securing the meat to the bone.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Season the pork shanks on both sides with the salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat (I like to use my Le Creuset Bouillabaisse Pot). Place the shanks in the pot and sear each side for about 3 -4 minutes, creating a nice crust. Work in two batches because the shanks most likely are not going to fit in the pot all at once for the searing process. Remove the shanks from the pot to a plate. Do not wipe out pot. Lower the heat to medium.
Add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot, including the garlic. Saute for about 6 – 7 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Raise the heat a little and add the white wine and cook for about another 3 minutes. Add one cup of the chicken stock and the tomatoes – if you are using whole tomatoes, just crush them with your hands as you put them in the pot. Add the thyme, bay leaves, tomato paste and lemon zest. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, to blend the tomato paste. Return the shanks to the pot and nearly submerge them in the sauce. Add another cup of stock if you need to. Cover with a tight fitting lid, place in the oven and cook for about 2½ hours.
Meanwhile, make the gremolata by mixing the finely chopped parsley with the lemon zest and minced garlic.
Check the shanks – they should be tender. Remove them to a serving platter and cut off the string. Spoon some sauce over the shanks and serve the rest on the side. Sprinkle the pork with some gremolata. Serve the pork with Saffron Risotto, polenta or pasta.