Winter came to the Bay Area this weekend and Jeff and I hunkered down, burrowing in to do some cooking and reading, weathering the weather so to speak. When the temperature drops and the rain comes we want comfort food—braised something or other. This weekend we decided that Ossobuco would do the trick.
Ossobuco is usually made with veal shanks, but when we went to the grocery story the veal shanks were mostly bones so we opted for beef shanks to make this homey dish. The recipe is from Tyler Florence and what makes it unique is his take on gremolata, a wonderful twist on the traditional garnish. The meal is definitely a weekend project as it takes 3 hours to prep and cook. The hearty flavors accented by cranberries and orange rind are heavenly.
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces veal or beef shank
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 lemon, zest peeled off in wide strips with a vegetable peeler
1 head garlic, cut horizontally through the middle
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bottle Amarone or Zinfandel wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
2 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 garlic clove (or 2 roasted garlic cloves)
1 orange, zest finely grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Put the flour in a large shallow platter and season it with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Dredge the shanks in the seasoned flour and then tap off the excess.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add 3 tbls. of olive oil. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan to melt. Sear the shanks until all sides are a rich brown caramel color. Remove the browned veal shanks to a side plate.
Using the same pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrots, lemon zest, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley over medium heat. Cook the vegetables down until they start to get some color and develop a deep, rich aroma. Season with salt and pepper; add a little oil if needed. Nestle the veal shanks back in the pot. Pour in the wine and let it simmer down for 20 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise for 1 and a 1/2 hours. Then remove the cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and the veal tender and nearly falling off the bone. Remove bay leaves.
For the Gremolata: Finely chop the pine nuts, dried cranberries and combine. Combine this with the garlic together in a mini chopper or with a mortar and pestle. Fold that into the orange zest and parsley. Scatter the gremolata over the Ossobucco before serving.