Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Braised Osso Buco with Sweet Pea Risotto

It's no coincidence that most of the staple comfort foods from around the globe consist of wholesome, inexpensive ingredients, cooked long and slow to maximize flavour and yield a beautifully tender, well balanced dish that nourishes and warms you.

Today's recipe is no exception. Osso buco is a traditional Italian recipe using veal shank. I used grass fed meat, but you don't have to. Because this cut is quite tough and contains a lot of connective tissue, it needs to be cooked for a longer period of time at a nice low temperature in a flavourful liquid. The result is a rich and decadent sauce with tender meat that just falls apart. The only thing that could make this even more delicious is that it is served over a creamy pea risotto. 

Traditionally, osso buco is served with risotto Milanese, which is a saffron risotto. It is wonderful, but I wanted to use something that would add a little bit of freshness. I use petit pois in this recipe because I love how tender and sweet they are. You could sub them with another vegetable though if you don't like peas, or just leave them out and have a light herb risotto.

Once you know how to make risotto, you can experiment to your hearts content, adding any number of things into it, and serving any number of things along side it. This version is dairy free, but if you can tolerate dairy, feel free to add a handful of Parmesan cheese at the end.

Braised Osso Buco   
2 veal shanks *see note
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced (reserve other half for risotto)
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, whole
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock (homemade or store bought. can also use veal stock)
1/2 cup strained tomatoes (pasata)
3 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs of rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
4-5 sprigs thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)

*note: The shanks that I used are about 3/4" thick which is plenty for us. If you use thicker cuts, increase the braising time accordingly. (Until tender)

  • preheat oven to 275F
  • preheat oil in any heavy bottom skillet with a lid that is also oven safe (cast iron, steel) on medium high heat. 
  • Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper
  • When pan is good and hot, lay osso buco in, and don't touch for a couple minutes
  • when the meat lifts off the pan easily and is browned, flip over to other side and leave undisturbed again until the second side is also well seared.
  • remove the meat from the pan and set on a dinner plate. 
  • place the pan back on the stove and add diced vegetables and whole garlic cloves
  • cook vegetables, stirring frequently for about five minutes
  • deglaze with red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with your spoon to get all the bits up. continue to reduce the wine until it is only a couple tablespoons (see picture)
  • add in tomatoes, stock and herbs. bring up to a simmer and add meat back to pan including any juices that may have accumulated on the plate
  • cover with lid and move to the oven. 
  • check after 2 hours using a fork to see if meat is tender. It should be almost falling apart
  • if not tender yet, return to oven for another half hour and check again.
  • Prep Risotto after osso buco has been in for about an hour and a half

Sweet Pea Risotto
2 TBSP olive oil
1 cup arborio rice (sometimes called risotto rice)
1/2 onion, diced very finely, about the size of the rice grains
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 - 3 1/2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavour (you can use real Parmesan or omit entirely if you choose)
1/2 cup petit poi
1/2 bunch chopped Italian parsley 
1 tbsp ghee or butter if you can tolerate it  

  • in a saucepan, heat stock until hot, but not boiling
  • heat oil in skillet on medium heat
  • add onion and cook until they begin to become translucent
  • add rice and cook, stirring constantly until some of the grains are lightly toasted
  • add white wine and cook for about three minutes stirring frequently
  • ladle in about a half a cup of hot stock and stir
  • when most of the liquid has been absorbed, add in another ladle full (see photo)
  • continue to do this, adding stock and stirring constantly until most is absorbed until the rice is tender. *See note  Each grain should still be individual, but tender (not mushy). There should be enough liquid left in the pan that it creates a creamy sauce around the rice, not stiff, but not soupy. 
  • remove from heat and stir in peas and nutritional yeast. My peas were still frozen, but because they're so tiny, they heat through in just a minute or two.
  • stir in parsley and ghee or butter and season with salt and pepper if necessary 
*NOTE: if your osso buco is not ready when your risotto is close (but still has lots of bite to it), you can remove it from the heat and then resume once your osso buco comes out of the oven. Just leave the lid on your meat to ensure it will be hot when you serve.

Optional Gremolata Watercress salad
Gremolata is a traditional condiment for osso buco consisting of raw garlic, parsley, and lemon zest. It is perfect for breaking up the richness of the meat and the risotto. I decided to use this as a base for a vinaigrette and dress some wonderfully peppery watercress with it. Arugula would also be acceptable if you can't get cress. I added lemon juice and some olive oil in a quite acidic ratio, creating a perfect bit of zip to go along with the decadent flavours of this dish. You can choose to skip this entirely, but I highly recommend it.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch parsley chopped
zest of 1 lemon ( be careful nit to get any of the bitter pith)
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 TBSP olive oil
Sea salt (a good pinch, adjust to your tastes)
fresh pepper

toss garlic, lemon juice and zest, parsley, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl to combine. Once everything else is plated, add watercress. Toss in dressing.

To Plate
Put 2 scoops (about a cup to a cup and a half) of risotto in the centre of the plate. Carefully, using a large spoon, place one whole osso buco on top of the risotto. Spoon some of the sauce that the meat was cooked in over the top. carefully place a small hand full of the watercress salad on top of the meat. Enjoy!

Now, tell me your friends and family wouldn't be impressed if you served them THIS!

Let me know what you think of this recipe, and if there are any questions I'd be happy to help.