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'Bone Hole!' Also Known As Osso Buco


I can't even begin to explain how much it made my little foodie heart soar with pride when my best friend's son looked at the dinner I was serving and declared, "Bone hole! I love bone hole!" He was referring to my osso buco...and I am grateful that he knows what that means.

Funny story: when the boys went on their cruise with my parents in back in 2014, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf would call us daily and tell us what he had for dinner. "Today I had pheasant." "For dinner I had caviar." Everyday it was something fantastic sounding that made my mouth water.

One night, he announced, incredulously, "Mom, I ordered osso buco and it didn't come with the bone. Can you believe it?!?"

Nonna shared that D actually asked their waiter about the missing bone, explaining that osso buco literally means 'hole in the bone.' The waiter shrugged his shoulders and leaned down to whisper to D - You're right...it should have the bone.

So, when D and I were planning our meals for the parade of celebrations we had this week, including two different parties for his birthday, I suggested osso buco for one of them as I had some veal shanks in the freezer. He requested to serve the osso buco on his family birthday dinner. Done.


I love that this dish is largely hands off. So, while D's birthday lunch crew played games, I started dinner...then I didn't have to touch it for hours! I did have to make this in two different pots, so each ingredient is doubled, but this recipe is easily halved to serve four. Also, the spices are non-traditional, but I was going to for a little bit of Moroccan flavor here.

Ingredients serves 8
  • eight osso buco-cut shanks (I had veal shanks)*
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 6 to 8 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
  • 12 C organic chicken stock (it should come about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the shanks)
  • 1 C red wine
  • 1 fresh tomato sauce
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • polenta, for serving
  • parmesan, for serving
*I found the veal osso buco at D'Artagnan Foods.

Procedure
Blend the cumin, cinnamon, and coriander together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the shanks with the spice mixture.

Heat butter in olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy bottom oven-safe pot over medium heat until melted. Brown the shanks in the butter-oil mixture. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, letting a golden crust to form on each side.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the carrot, onion, celery, and fennel; sauté until slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the shanks to the pot. Pour in the stock, wine, and tomato sauce. Bring the liquid almost to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 3-1/2 or 4 hours - until it’s almost falling off the bone. You can check it every so often, if you like, but I didn't add any liquid or stir at all! Osso buco should be tender and juicy, but still hold its shape.

To serve, I put some polenta in the bottom of the bowl, placed shank on top, and drizzled lightly with the sauce. Then I let diners grate parmesan over the top on their own.


Here's that hole-in-the-bone. The marrow slid easily from the bone and was so, so tasty. 

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