Italy is the country of contradictions. We have the sun, but we complain about the heat and we all have the best recipe for something, inside and outside the kitchen. As I always say: there is no one Italian Cuisine, there are ever so many versions of it. We are great at making rules and breaking them, and this is why we cannot agre not even on a salad. This is part of our … ehm, charm? Ossobuco is no difference to this.Each family has it’s own rules and special recipe. Mine is no difference. This is a wonderful recipe that comes from my Grandma who was born around the beginning of ‘900 and holds in it a little secret.
So bear with me, and trust the Old Lady and I promise you will have a blast of flavours exploding in your mouth when you taste this version of Ossobuco, and you wont believe how easy and little time consuming it is!
P.S. Ossobuco is made with a 3 cm (1 inch) thick steak cut from veal back shin. You can use the front leg as well, however it has more connettive tissue and it might result a little more chewy, the front legs’ are smaller in diameter. Sometimes you can find ossobuco cut from older beef, it is ok, but it tougher, we use this part to boil and to make broth.
- 4 veal ossobuco (3 cm/1 inch thick)
- some white flour
- extra virgin olive oil
- ½ glass white wine
- ½ spoon tomato paste (optional)
- 4 small anchovies fillet (the secret ingredient - trust me on this one)
- 4 spoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
- the zest of 1 lemon
- First of all you want to prepare your meat, so check it for any little piece of bone that might be around (there should not be any if your butcher is good). With a sharp knife open little vertical cuts on the border of the ossobuco. This helps to cut the membrane that should be abound the ossobuco. The membrane should not be removed at all, it helps to hold the meat together, it has however the bad habit of shrinking when cooked and your ossobuco will non cook evenly and will not stay flat. This simple and quick trick will ensure good looking and super tasty meat.
- After your meat is nice and flat, pass it lightly in the flour and shake away very well the excess.
- Grab a pan or a casserole, it has to be wide enough to host your ossobuco in one layer and deep enough to hold some liquid in it. Heat 2 or 3 spoons of extra virgin olive oil and fry the meat in it. Turn it around several times till lightly browned.
- Pour the wine and let the alcool evaporate.
- Season with not too much, the anchovies will bring in the Mediterranean saltiness.
- If you are using the tomato paste (it adds a little healthy color and a deeper taste), dissolve it in a spoon of cold water or white wine and add it to the pan.
- Get some warm water and pour it in the pan halfway to cover the meat. Some people use stock or broth. We prefer to use just water. The flavour at the end is more definite, a different level.
- Bring to a gentle boil cover it and simmer it for at least 1 hour and half. The more it cooks the better. In the end it should be so tender that you can literally cut it with a fork. Remember to flip the ossobuco every once in awhile to keep it moist.
- When you feel they are cooked, remove the lid and scatter in the liquid the anchovies, they will melt away in a matter of few minutes adding a deep flavour to the meat. This is one of the super secret! ... just between me and you, try to add a little piece of anchovies to your next pot roast ... then let me know .....
- Back to our ossobuco, while the secret ingredient cooks away and the liquid reduces prepare the parsley finely chopped with the lemon zest, and when ready sprinkle it on the veal.
- Serve the ossobuco with a traditional saffron risotto or with mashed potatoes. Here in the picture I served it with caramelized onions (recipe here) and some artichoke.
- In Italy we eat the marrow from inside the bone. I personally do not like the consistency but the flavour is amazing. Try it.
This is a perfect dish to prepare in the slow cooker and finish on the hob, like the one you see in the picture. It has cooked for 6 hours at least on low.