Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

25.3.05

Osso buco, out of season.

I've been doing this for years. It's a robust, homely recipe that is forgiving of change. I don't mean by putting pineapple in it. I mean by using different herbs, using more or less tomato, that kind of thing.

I usually do it in the depths of winter, but this year I couldn't wait.

I seasoned the veal shanks by shaking them together with a dessertspoon of continental flour and some salt and pepper in a plastic bag and then I browned them in some olive oil.

After removing them to a plate I added one very finely diced onion, one very finely diced carrot and one stick of very finely diced celery to the pan. (I do tire of very finely slicing things but it pays off in this recipe.) Sweat the vegetables for five minutes, giving the pan a good shake every now and then.

Then I added some of my home-grown tomatoes, very finely diced, together with the rest of the tomato puree from the jar in the fridge (lightly covered with olive oil so it wouldn't spoil). And four cloves of garlic - scored not sliced. That's just me. I like huge chunks of scored garlic in my food.

Now, a cup of white wine and a cup of stock. Splash them in and swirl the pan around. Herbs - whatever is to hand. I grabbed a handful of rocket from the garden along with a few last leaves of summer's basil - :( - and a sprig of rosemary, sliced them finely and threw them into the mix.

Now the veal shanks go back in and the stove is set to simmer away for an hour or two of a late and lazy autumn afternoon.

Cook up your accompaniments. Mashed potato. Polenta. Some sharp greens wilted in garlic and oil and pepper. Open a bottle of red.

Make gremolata - grated lemon peel, garlic and chopped parsley. The sour and bitter flavours accentuate the mellow richness of the dish perfectly. Whoever invented gremolata knew exactly what they were doing.

Enjoy your osso buco as the shadows lengthen and a waxing moon rises on another warm autumn night.

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