Don’t let the weather fool you: The season is still upon us where we get to turn our ovens on and let the mouth-watering smells of whatever we’re cooking permeate our living spaces. Osso Buco is as cozy as it gets, best served with warm polenta or a side of egg noodles, or even rice pilaf. My riff on this Italian beef shank braise delivers an elegant sauce made with vegetable stock, mushrooms, onions, and red bell pepper. To attain some of the tradition to this popular Italian meal, I garnish it with gremolata, which is a mixture of lemon zest, parsley, and minced garlic. The gremolata adds a pop of color to the numerous shades of brown in this meal, and wakes up the nuance of flavor with citrusy garlic notes. 

Making this dish at home checks off a variety of cooking techniques you would learn in culinary school: searing, creating a roux, braising, and more. If there was ever a meal that would help you understand technique, it is Osso Buco, because you start with a hard sear on the meat. This creates that maillard reaction I once described in my cauliflower recipe. Then, adding flour will allow you to create a roux, and not cooking the flour for too long will get you a blonde roux, which is the lightest of the four different types of roux: white, blonde, brown, dark brown. 

Bumping up the flavor with the addition of stock will result in creating a sauce, but most importantly, it is the liquid needed to braise the meat—the most vital cooking technique used in this dish. 

Braising is a moist heat method of cooking that helps tenderize the main food item; in this case, the Osso Buco. Essentially, it is cooking a food item in liquid inside a tightly covered vessel for a slightly longer period of time, usually an hour and some minutes. To avoid confusion, let me help: The main difference between a braise and a stew, or even soup, is that you use a lot less liquid in a braise. 

Finally, you will need time: the time it takes—about an hour and a half—to braise the meat. The Osso Buco transforms into something magnificent during this time. The meat is succulent and tender. The sauce becomes slightly thickened, flavorful, and rich. 

When you garnish the Osso Buco with gremolata, please do not forget to take a photo and show it off on social media. Please. It will make your friends believe you accomplished something major in the kitchen. And when you think about it, you did. Kudos to you!

Osso Buco with Mushrooms & Red Bell Peppers

Yields 2 servings

Ingredients for the beef shanks:

2 lb beef shanks

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped yellow onions

2 large portobello mushrooms, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick

4 cups vegetable stock

1 red bell pepper, large dice

Salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for the gremolata:

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

Zest of 1 lemon

Parsley, large pinch, finely minced

Instructions for the beef shanks:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Instructions for the gremolata:

Heat up a cast-iron braiser or dutch oven for 2 minutes on high heat. Turn the heat down to medium high. Add the extra virgin olive oil. Season the beef shanks to taste with salt & pepper on both sides. Sear the beef shanks on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes each side, or until golden-brown. Remove and set aside. 

Add the butter and all-purpose flour. Stir to create a blonde roux. Add onions and portobello mushrooms. Stir to thoroughly combine, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. 

Add the vegetable stock and stir to combine. Add the beef shanks back to the skillet and nestle them deeply in the sauce. Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise for 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and uncover. Increase the oven heat to 405 degrees F. Add the diced red bell pepper, stir the sauce without moving the beef shanks too much—keep the beef shanks nestled in the sauce. Transfer back to the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. In a small bowl, add the minced garlic, lemon zest, and minced parsley. Thoroughly combine. Use as garnish for Osso Buco. Garnish with the gremolata. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *