I love osso bucco, the perfect example of peasant cooking. The big round of shank meat, the herb and citrus flavor of the gremolata, the melting marrow from the big central bone. The only thing is – traditionally, it is made with veal shank. And with the cost of veal, this really isn’t peasant cooking any more. *OK, I’m cheap. Well, until it’s time to buy a new kitchen gadget, then I won’t be stopped. You expect me to be consistent?
Luckily, beef shanks are a lot less expensive than veal shanks, and provide just as good of a meal. Here’s my “weeknight” osso bucco, prepared in the pressure cooker. *Don’t have a pressure cooker? No worries. See the Variations section for instructions on cooking with a standard dutch oven.
Season and sear the shanks in two batches: Trim all the fat you can from the outside of the beef shanks, then (optionally) tie with twine to hold them together. Season the shanks with 3 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in the pressure cooker pot until shimmering. Add half the shanks, and sear for 3 minutes per side, or until well browned. Remove the browned shanks to a bowl. Add the second half of the shanks to the pot, and sear for 3 minutes per side. Move the second batch into to the bowl. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and fat in the cooker.
Saute the aromatics: Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme to the pot. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for five minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the chicken stock and wine to the pot, increase the heat to high, and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits from the bottom.
Pressure cook the shanks: Add the shanks and any liquid in their bowl back into the pot. Submerge the shanks in the liquid as much as possible. Pour the tomatoes on top, but don't stir. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure, then cook at high pressure for 30 minutes in a stovetop PC, 36 minutes in an electric PC. Remove from the heat, allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes, then quick release any pressure left in the pot.
Prepare the gremolata: While the shanks are cooking, make the gremolata. Mince the garlic, lemon zest, and parsley leaves together, then toss in a small bowl to combine.
Prepare the sauce: Remove the shanks to a serving platter. Pour the sauce into a fat separator, let it rest for ten minutes for the fat to surface, then pour into a serving boat. To serve, put a shank on the plate, pour some sauce over the top, then sprinkle a little gremloata on top.
Veal Osso Bucco: As I said in the opening, real osso buco uses veal shank, not beef shank. Veal shank tastes great…but is really expensive. If you can afford it (or find it cheap), it cooks exactly like beef shanks – use the same instructions and timing.
Don’t have a pressure cooker? No worries. Use a heavy bottomed dutch oven with a lid, and increase the amount of chicken stock to 2 cups. Follow the instructions right up until “lock the lid”. Then, instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a boil, and cover with the lid. Move the pot to a preheated 350*F oven and bake for 2 hours, until the beef shanks are tender. Continue with the prepare the gremolata step.
Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes to soak up the extra sauce. Also, the marrow in the bones may be the best part of the meal – scoop it out and serve on toast. (Or just eat it straight up, like I do.)
If you have the time, refrigerate the shanks overnight to help remove the fat. After cooking, let the shanks cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days. This will let the fat rise to the surface and solidify. To serve, lift the solid fat from the shanks, then reheat the shanks over medium heat on the stove.
The marrow is the best part of this dish, especially spread on toast. Mmmm…beef marrow…
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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