Sunday, January 16, 2011

Osso Buco with Pine Nut Gremolata

Sometimes you just want to do something extra for dinner. Step out of the weeknight dinner mode and really make something special. A special occasion dinner will take a little longer and might cost a bit more, but it's definitely worth it when the time comes. And any dinner you make at home will be less expensive than a similar dinner at a restaurant and usually means more to whoever gets to enjoy the dinner with you. Birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, all are great reasons to take the time to make something you wouldn't normally cook. In my case, this dinner was a thank you to my parents for a great holiday trip to Mexico. I figure if they want to take me and Gavin down to Mexico for an awesome vacation, the least I can do is take the time to make a great dinner and pair it with some really nice wine. And since I not only made the dinner but also got to eat it, I definitely think I lucked out on the exchange. But nonetheless, I wanted to at least show a small token of my appreciation.
Thanks to some great advice from a coworker, I decided to make Osso Buco, a classic Italian comfort food that is often served around the holidays here in the states. The veal slowly cooks in a rich, savory sauce of tomatoes and stock, making it so tender it just falls of the bone. It's hearty and satisfying and perfect for a meal during the cold winter months. The simple gremolata served on top adds just the right amount of freshness and crunch to the dish. Serve it over pasta or brown rice and you've got a show-stopping dish. Combine the Osso Buco with a rich Amarone and you've got a serious feast on your hands. This lush, velvety red wine from Veneto, Italy pairs perfectly with the hearty dish and makes the meal itself worth celebrating.

Osso Buco (serves 6)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 whole veal shank, about 3.5-4 lbs
  • 1 onion, diced, about 2 cups
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, about 15-20 thyme sprigs, stems discarded
  • 1 x 28 oz can plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups veal or chicken stock 
  • Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat oil in a large, oven proof dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat.
Season veal shank liberally with salt and pepper (about 1.5-2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper).
Brown veal in hot oil for about 4 minutes per side.
Remove veal and set aside.
Turn heat down slightly and saute onion, carrots, celery and garlic till soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add fresh thyme, tomatoes, wine and stock. Break up tomatoes with a spoon.
Return the veal shank to the pot. Make sure the liquid comes up about half way on the shank. If not, add more stock. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Cover the dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, or aluminum foil, and place on the middle rack in the oven.
Cook the veal for about 2.5-3 hours or until meat pulls away easily with a fork.
Remove the lid from the pot and cook for another 30 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce.
To serve, either remove the bone and pull the meat apart into chunks, or place the entire shank onto a separate platter and slice meat, serving the sauce alongside. Pass gremolata as a garnish.

Pine Nut Gremolata
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts 
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • Salt and pepper
In a small, dry skillet, toast pine nuts until golden and fragrant, being careful not to burn them.
Combine chopped parsley, lemon zest and cooled pine nuts. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

For a printable recipe click here

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