Almost Osso Bucco

Oh, Make Ahead Mondays, how I love you.

According to Wikipedia, Ossobuco is Italian for “bone with a hole” (osso bone, buco hole), a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank.  Accordingly, the dish osso bucco is traditionally (and deliciously) made with veal shanks, which are often hard to come by and are pretty expensive when you can find them.  The shanks are then braised, usually in the oven, in a mixture of wine, stock and vegetables, and is traditionally served with risotto alla milanese.

I love osso bucco – it’s one of the few Italian dishes you can find in restaurants (when you can find it in restaurants) that isn’t smothered in some sort of tomato sauce and buried in pasta.  It is a rich, simple dish that is, when you come right down to it, delicious peasant food.  Unfortunately, as I noted, veal shanks are not readily available, but beef shanks are fairly easy to obtain – at least in my freezer, where I have no less than two at any given moment.

It was the last two from our former side of beef that I used for this recipe, which lent itself quite well to the slow cooker.  And it really couldn’t be easier – brown the beef, throw all of the ingredients in the crock pot, set it on low for eight hours and walk away until it’s done.  It’s really worth the trouble of getting up 15 minutes or so early on a weekday morning to brown the meat and assemble the dish – when you get home in the evening, all you have to do is make your side dish (we served it over a puree of roasted parsnips – perfection!), remove the bones and chop the meat.

Most osso bucco recipes call for dredging the meat in flour before browning, which I’ve skipped here.  If you want to thicken it with a slurry of a little water mixed with tapioca or arrowroot flour at the end, feel free to although I added beef rib and marrow bones for added richness.  If you don’t have them, don’t worry about – it will be fine with just the shanks.

It won’t be the prettiest dinner you’ve ever served, but it will be one of the easiest, to say nothing of one of the most delicious.  It is also one of those dishes that is even tastier the next day, so eat those leftovers!

Almost Osso Bucco
Almost Osso Bucco
Serves: 8
  • 3 pounds beef shanks
  • 4 beef ribs
  • 2 small marrow bones
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tallow
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Working is batches, brown the beef in the tallow until the meat is nicely browned.
  2. Add the beef and marrow bones to the crock of a slow cooker and cover with the vegetables. Carefully pour the wine, beef stock and tomato sauce around, not over, the beef and vegetables. Cook on low for eight hours or until tender.
  3. Remove the bones from the stew and cut the beef into bite size pieces. Serve over mashed potatoes or parsnips.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 28.7g total fat, 91.3mg cholesterol, 600mg sodium, 1131.1mg potassium, 8.5g carbohydrates, 1.9g fiber, 4.8g sugar, 45.6g protein.


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21 thoughts on “Almost Osso Bucco”

  1. Careful about Mr. Wikipedia – sometimes it can lead you astray. LOL

    Osso Bucco (Osso bucci is the plural form…) is one of my favorite dishes to prepare in the kitchen. You are taking a piece that generally gets thrown into ground veal, and making something beautiful with it.

    The dish supposedly originated in Milan (that’s where my Wife’s family originated…) but there are a lot of variations out there. (Just like the Italian language. LOL) It seems there are villages all over claiming fame to the dish

    There is an argument as to whether there should be tomatoes in there or not. I say use what tastes good.

    In terms of using beef, that’s great! One thing to keep in mind is that since most osso bucci recipes call for white wine, it’s because it’s for a veal shank – therefore you want to use something delicate. In the case of the beef shank, you could even go with a nice red wine, and some other bold spices too, like cinnamon, rosemary, or even cloves, because the beef will stand up to the flavors.

    I have even done lamb osso bucci with a dry red merlot, rosemary, and blood oranges for a more Turkish feel.

    Finally – Ossobucco a la Millanaise is traditionally served with gremolata (a mixture of garlic, lemon zest and olive oil,) over either pasta or rice (like ossobucco di bianci – a one pot- peasant type dish.)

    Sources: Larousse Gastronomy, Gastronomy of Italy

    1. Oh, sorry – almost forgot… why don’t you serve it with the bone?

      In the old days, (before mad cow disease. LOL) they would serve Ossobucci with a special marrow spoon so you could scrape the marrow out of the middle.

      When I serve it up in the restaurant, it is usally with cappelini d’angelo aglio e olio (angel hair pasta in garlic oil sauce) with the whole ossobucco on top, with the gremolata garnishing it.

      Then again, I understand why I don’t serve the pasta anymore. Har Har.

      1. Mostly because the marrow had melted out into the stew itself, and it was just easier to remove the bones (there were more than just those in the shank in this instance). And marrow spoons are hard to find these days; when I roast marrow, I serve it with tiny tasting spoons. It’s the best I can do.

  2. That sounds really good! And you know, when a recipe tells me to dredge any meat through flour I usually skip that part – just because it’s a PITA and messy. But knowing someone else skips that part for healthier reasons makes me feel better. 😉

  3. The truth is that this tastes even better as leftovers. The marrow (which was removed before removing the bones – do you think we are crazy?) helps the broth thicken up and makes the sauce plenty creamy – actually creamier the longer it sits in the fridge. I think the more bones in this the better!

    I loved the dish and can’t wait to try it again. How about goat shanks?

    1. Ohh! Goat shanks would rock!

      Do you guys have harrissa around there? A nice faux tagine style osso bucco would totally rock the boat! You could even make cauliflower “cous cous!”

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