Sounds fancy, eh, but it’s really just Italian Pot Roast. Traditionally this dish is made from veal shanks, but I substituted pork shanks because of price. I picked up the pork shanks at Society Fair, a gourmet shop, in Old Town, where the butcher hand-sawed them because the bone-saw wasn’t working. The vegetarian that once inhabited my body for five years shuddered, but then I asked if I could suck out the marrow after it was cooked. He recommended I shouldn’t. Blood, sweat, and tears for about $3 a pound. Veal shanks, however, can run as high as $20 a pound. Therefore the price point and the ethics of veal make pork the easy choice.
Although there are a number of recipes floating around the web, I used Tyler Florence’s Osso Bucco recipe for two reasons: he uses red wine over white wine and he dumps a whole bottle into the dutch oven. Now Tyler’s recipe calls for an Amarone wine, but that’s the good stuff so I went with a $10 Barbera from Fern Street Gourmet just off King Street/Rt-7. I also substituted chicken broth for beef broth because, well, that’s what was in the fridge. Otherwise, it’s the man from Florence’s recipe to the T sans lemon zest and the cranberry gremalota. While you can go with pasta or quinoa to rest comfortably underneath the osso bucco, I whipped up some garlic mash potatoes. The result is ridiculously tender pork slathered in dark rich gravy over some tasty tatters. The yield is four large servings for about $35-$40. It’s a good dish for company, which doesn’t set you back too much.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pieces pork shank for osso bucco
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 lemon, zest peeled off in wide strips with a vegetable peeler
- 1 head garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bottle Barbera wine
- 8 ounces of chicken broth
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand-crushed
DIRECTIONS (via Food Network with slight edits): Put the flour in a large shallow platter and season it with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Get in the habit of always tasting your flour; once it coats the veal it is harder to adjust the seasoning. Dredge the veal shanks in the seasoned flour and then tap off the excess (extra flour will burn and make the dish off-tasting).
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and hit it with a 3-count drizzle of oil. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan to melt. Sear the veal shanks, turning carefully with tongs, until all sides are a rich brown caramel color. Drizzle with a little more oil, if needed. (Do this in batches if the shanks are big and look crowded in the pot.) Remove the browned veal shanks to a side plate. There will be a lot of flavor left over in the bottom of the pot. You’re going to use that to create your sauce.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Using the same pot, saute the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and parsley over medium heat. Cook the vegetables down until they start to get some color and develop a deep, rich aroma. Season with salt and pepper; add a little oil if needed. Nestle the shanks back in the pot. Pour in the wine and let it simmer down for 20 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half. ( My dutch oven is on the smaller side so I let the wine reduce for nearly an hour to make room for the tomatoes and broth.) Reducing is key for intense flavor. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise for 1 and a 1/2 hours. Then remove the cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and the veal tender and nearly falling off the bone.
Remove bay leaves
POSTSCRIPT: A word of advice for anyone who wants to make Pork Osso Buco: call your favorite grocery store or butcher ahead of time. I got lucky at Society Fair, because as the butcher told me, “I got a pig hanging up in the back.” If he hadn’t, I was out of luck until mid-week when they got more inventory. I was told the same thing at BRABO’s The Butcher’s Block at the Lorien Hotel.