Osso Buco and I have a thing for each other. I was introduced to it in my mother's kitchen and it has occupied a special place in my heart ever since. If I see it on a restaurant menu, I will likely order it. More recently, I've decided to learn how to make it myself. For such deep and rich flavor, the ingredient list is surprisingly simple thanks to the braised meat.
Traditionally, Osso Buco, an Italian dish, is made with pieces of veal shank cross-cut to expose the marrow. Though I enjoy it with veal, not everyone else does. Additionally, while the shank meat is great, it is on the leaner side and I've found that it can get a little dry sometimes. With these two things in mind, we set out to see if we could make a version with Osso Buco using beef that has moist and tender meat as well as rich and delicious marrow.
We found that using boneless beef short rib meat cut into 2" pieces yields a meat that is tender and pulls apart easily, maintains its moisture without drying out, and brings a fantastic flavor to the dish. In addition to the meat, we add several cross-cut beef shank bones to the braise to provide their flavor and bring marrow into the picture. After all, it's not Osso Buco without the bone marrow.
We like to serve the Osso Buco over risotto. The velvety texture and creaminess of the risotto is a fantastic match with the warm savory flavors of the Osso Buco. After all, they are both cooked in white wine and chicken stock, how could they not be friends?
Full recipe below, adapted from: Daniel Gritzer's Osso Buco on Serious Eats
- 3-4 lbs of boneless beef short ribs cut to 2" pieces
- 2-3 beef shank marrow bones
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken stock (pull out one of your chicken stock Souper Cubes® :) )
- 1 cup of dry Vermouth
- 2 carrots
- 2 ribs of celery
- 1 large yellow onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1-28oz can of whole plum tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Gather and prep the ingredients
It pays to have your mise en place. That is to say, having all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking leads to a much smoother experience where you are less likely to forget an ingredient, or burn something because you are off chopping carrots.
Mince your onions, carrots, celery, and garlic finely. Cut up your boneless beef short ribs into 2 inch pieces. Break up your plum tomatoes and strain as much liquid as you can from them. Have your chicken stock, and wine measured and ready to go.
Now is a good time to get the oven up to 325° F as well. Make sure that you set up the racks so that there is room for your dutch oven and its lid.
Step 2: Brown the beef
Place a large dutch oven or sturdy oven safe stock pot on medium heat and add the oil.
Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Then, lightly dredge each piece in flour before placing it in the pot to brown. Work in a few rounds so that you don't crowd the pot.
Transfer the browned meat to a bowl and continue until all of your pieces are done. As you brown the pieces, the meat will leave fabulous brown bits of fond and browned flour that will help us make a thick and delicious braising liquid. If you think that the pot is getting dry at any time, add a little more oil to help things along.
Step 3: Sauté the vegetables
Add in your onions, scraping up bits of fond and browned flower with your wooden spoon from the bottom of the pan to mix in, then after a few minutes, add the carrots and celery allowing them to saute for 5-7 minutes or so. Lastly, add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Add the wine. You can use any dry white wine you like. I've had success with dry Vermouth, my butcher suggested it and I've been using it since.
Step 4: Add the chicken stock and tomatoes
Add the chicken stock to the pot to build up the braising liquid. One of the great things about making and freezing your own stock with Souper Cubes®, is that when you need one cup for your recipe, you take out one cube without needing to measure it again.
Add the tomatoes. Our Italian friends from the Milan area (home to Osso Buco) don't use tomatoes in their recipe, but I like the flavor that they add. We are a bit off the traditional Osso Buco script anyway at this point.
Step 5: Add remaining ingredients
Now is the time to add the marrow bones, bay leaves and remainder of the ingredients.
Step 6: Place in 325°F oven for 3 hours
Place the pot in the oven with the lid on top but ajar. After 2 hours of cooking, remove the lid to allow the top to brown for 1 more hour. I have also had success with a parchment paper lid with a 2" diameter whole cut in the middle placed right on top of the braise. If using the parchment lid, leave that on for the first 2 hours and remove for the last hour as well.
Step 7: Enjoy!
We love pairing this dish with homemade risotto.
Step 8: Freeze leftovers for later
We are all about freezer meals and getting to enjoy things again another day when we don't feel like cooking. One of the benefits of this recipe, and of using 2" pieces of beef (or veal) instead of whole veal shanks, is that its easier to freeze efficiently. We made a few Osso Buco Souper Cubes®. They froze well and reheated perfectly. It was just as good the second time.