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.


PLEASE – post recipes with whole, real food ingredients only. Dairy, sprouted grains and legumes and natural sweeteners are allowed, but recipes containing processed or refined ingredients or vegetable oils will be removed.  Don’t forget to link back to this post! Thanks for your cooperation.