By Kris Hughes
When I first began this recipe it was something I thought would be a nice addition to the recipe collection because as everyone is tightening the belts this year. I thought it would be nice to make available a dinner that was affordable yet felt like something special you could serve to family or loved ones as the weather cools down.
What it kept making me think of was comfort. Cooking for people I love has always been a soothing task for me, one thing that kept me grounded through the tough days and cheered me up when I was sad and overwhelmed.
When any of these problems assaulted me as I walked through my door, I would head to my kitchen. If I was irritated and angry at the day I would chop vegetables and pound steak cutlets. If I was sad and lonely I would make the comfort food that reminded me of the people I was missing. The simple ritual of coming into my kitchen and taking a bunch of mismatched meats and vegetables and putting them together to make something that was warm and inviting has always been a form of therapy for me. When I have guests over they inevitably always end up leaning on a counter telling me about their day, seemingly as entranced by the smells and sounds of the kitchen as I am and this recipe really brings those memories to the surface.
Osso bucco is a traditional Italian dish usually made with veal shanks. I love the down home feel of this dish that has a surprisingly sophisticated side despite the fact it’s so easily prepared. When prepared properly you will end up with meat that has a rich buttery texture and a sauce that is surprisingly delicate. Pair it with a buttery Chardonnay or nice Chianti a side of your favorite pasta or risotto, a salad and fresh baked bread and I think that you to will be able to spread that wonderful kitchen brand of comfort to your loved ones as well.
4 Beef shanks
enough flour for dredging
salt and Pepper
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbs butter
One bag of frozen Miripoix
(diced Celery, Carrots and Onions)
One large or two small cloves of garlic
½ cup white wine (optional)
3 Bay Leaves
I tsp of herbs de Provence
Three or Four cups Chicken Stock
One 16 oz can of whole tomatoes
1 Tbs Flour
1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot over Medium High heat.
Sprinkle Salt and Pepper on your beef shanks and lightly dredge them in flour.
Let them brown well on both sides, (3-5 Minutes per side) this will result in a more rich sauce. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Pour in the miripoix and simmer until warmed through scraping the bottom with a spoon to release the fonde ( all those dirty looking bits stuck to the bottom)
Add the garlic, white wine, bay leaves and herbs de Provence put the shanks back in the pot and add the chicken stock until the shanks are completely covered.
Then crush the tomatoes with your hand and put them in the pot as well.
Note that I did not have you add salt and pepper to taste, that is because when this sauce reduces, the chicken stock will make it more salty, this is one dish I definitely recommend waiting to salt until later.
Turn the pot down to a low simmer and wait, like two and a half to three hours, no joke. Trust me its worth it. You will know when its done when the meat is fork tender like a roast.
Remove the shanks from the pan carefully (I use a large spatula) and set aside again.
Fish out the bay leaves and turn up the pot to medium high. Reduce the sauce in half or until it coats the back of a spoon. This is where I sometimes use the tablespoon of flour, I just sprinkle it on and whisk vigorously until it’s incorporated. Don’t be tempted to use more though or the sauce will become heavy. Add the balsamic vinegar and put the shanks back in the pan. Serve immediately or let it sit overnight, it gets even better! Just return to the stove top and heat and a medium temperature until bubbling.