This Osso Buco Recipe is made with veal shanks, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, white wine, broth, thyme and is braised to perfection.
This is an Italian classic that requires braising delicious veal shanks. Osso Buco means “pierced bone” in Italian, and the bone marrow is really where you get most of the flavor. I used to always order this at Il Buco, one of the finer and fancier restaurants here in New York City. It is traditional to use olive oil for the browning process, but I love browning with butter. It just gives it so much more flavor. I have also seen other recipes that uses pancetta and it is thrown in when the vegetables are, adding a lovely flavor dimension.
It is traditional to use veal shanks for Osso Buco, and it is what most restaurants use when you order it. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find in your local grocery store, and you will have more luck at the butcher. Alternative cuts you can use include bone-in beef chuck, bone-in pork butt or shoulder.
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What is Osso Buco?
Osso Buco is a classic Italian dish made with veal shanks that are slow-cooked with vegetables, wine, and broth until they become tender and flavorful. The dish originated in the Lombardy region of Italy and is a staple of Milanese cuisine.
The name "osso buco" translates to "bone with a hole" in Italian, referring to the marrow-filled bone in the center of the veal shank. The shanks are typically seasoned, seared, and then simmered with a mixture of carrots, onions, celery, and tomatoes, as well as a flavorful liquid such as beef or chicken broth and white wine.
The dish is typically served with a gremolata, a mixture of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley, which is sprinkled on top of the dish just before serving to add freshness and brighten the flavors. It is often served with risotto alla milanese, a creamy saffron-infused rice dish, or polenta.
While traditional Osso Buco is made with veal shanks, it can also be made with other meats such as beef or pork shanks. Additionally, there are many variations of Osso Buco that use different herbs, spices, and vegetables, depending on the region and personal preference.
What you will need
- Veal Shanks
- Tomato Paste
- White Wine
- San Marzano Tomatoes
- Vegetable, Beef or Chicken Broth
- Bay Leaves
See recipe card for quantities for this Osso Buco Recipe.
It is spectacular how much flavor the bone and marrow gives to the dish. The rich marrow renders all that flavor during the braising, which bastes the meat and infuses in the sauce. The traditional way to serve Osso Buco is with gremolata. It is a mixture of lemon zest, parsley and garlic, which can be pulsed in a food processer.
The veal shanks I got were from the butcher here in NYC, and the hunks of meat were massive. This is why I only bought two of them, because it was enough to feed four people. Some other grocery stores or butchers sell smaller sizes, and those usually take much less time to cook. Cooking time truly varies depending on the size of the shanks, and you know it is ready when the meat falls off the bone. The inside of the bone is also edible, but requires work to get it out. I used the end of a teaspoon and it is so rich in flavor. You should serve your Osso Buco with polenta, risotto, pasta or even mashed potatoes.
How to make Italian Osso Buco Recipe
If you wish the tie the shanks with a kitchen string, you can do so now. This is just for presentation purposes and will not affect the taste. Start by dredging the shanks with flour.
In a large Dutch oven or lidded pot big enough to hold the veal in a single layer, start by melting the butter on medium-high heat. Add the shanks and brown on both sides, allowing them to become dark. Remove and set aside on a plate and lower heat to medium.
Add the onions, carrots, and celery, stirring until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste, until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute longer. Raise heat to medium-high and pour in the wine, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon until the brown bits on the bottom have dissolved. Stir in the crushed tomato and broth. Add the thyme and bay leaves.
Return the shanks back into the Dutch oven, basting with the sauce. Season well with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for an hour and a half.
Uncover the pot and raise to medium heat and bring sauce to a simmer. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens. Optional: serve with gremolata.
Hint: When you sear the osso buco, the heat should be on medium-high heat. Make sure to lower the temperature when covering.
What to Serve with Osso Buco
Osso Buco is a hearty and flavorful dish that pairs well with a variety of sides. Here are some delicious options to consider:
- Risotto: This creamy, buttery rice dish is a classic accompaniment to Osso Buco. The rich, savory flavors of the sauce complement the creamy, cheesy risotto perfectly.
- Polenta: Similar to risotto, polenta is a soft and creamy cornmeal dish that pairs well with the tender, flavorful meat and sauce of Osso Buco.
- Mashed potatoes: The rich, buttery flavors of mashed potatoes make them a perfect pairing for Osso Buco. The soft texture of the potatoes also helps to soak up the flavorful sauce.
- Roasted or grilled vegetables: A side of roasted or grilled vegetables, such as asparagus, green beans, or zucchini, can add a fresh and light touch to the hearty dish.
- Crusty bread: A loaf of crusty bread is perfect for sopping up the delicious sauce and juices from the Osso Buco. You can also use the bread to make sandwiches with the leftover meat and sauce.
- Salad: A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette can help balance out the rich flavors of the Osso Buco and add a refreshing crunch to the meal.
- Veal Shanks: Alternative cuts you can use include oxtail, bone-in beef chuck, bone-in pork butt or shoulder.
- Flour: If you would like to make this keto, I would use almond flour.
- Vegetables: Using carrots, onion and celery is an amazing combination, although I have seen some recipes use bell peppers instead of carrots.
- Tomato paste: Using tomato paste in the sautéed vegetables adds tons of savoriness and ups the complexity factor in a big way.
- White wine: If you do not want to use white wine, you can substitute using broth instead. This would equal 2 cups of broth. I wouldn’t skip the wine though!
- Broth: You can use vegetable, chicken or beef broth, although I highly recommend using beef broth.
- Tomatoes: It is best to use San Marzano whole peeled tomato in a can and crushing it with your hands. Alternatively, you can used diced or crushed tomatoes in a can.
- Herbs: I used thyme and bay leaves although I have seen others use dried thyme and or fresh rosemary leaves.
Can I Make Osso Buco Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can definitely make this Osso Buco Recipe ahead of time. In fact, many people believe that Osso Buco tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld together. Here are some tips for making Osso Buco ahead of time:
- Cook the Osso Buco as directed in the recipe.
- Allow the Osso Buco to cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the Osso Buco and its cooking liquid to an airtight container or a large resealable bag.
- Store the Osso Buco in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- When you're ready to serve, reheat the Osso Buco in a pot or microwave-safe dish with some of the cooking liquid to prevent it from drying out. Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the Osso Buco is heated through.
Osso Buco Recipe Variations
There are many variations of Osso Buco that can be made depending on personal preference and available ingredients. Here are some popular variations:
- Meat Variations: While veal is the traditional meat used in Osso Buco, you can also use beef or pork shanks to make this dish. Beef shanks will have a stronger flavor and pork shanks will be sweeter.
- Cooking Method: While the traditional way to make Osso Buco is to slow-cook the shanks in a Dutch oven or similar heavy pot, you can also make this dish in a slow cooker or pressure cooker for faster cooking times.
- Herbs and Spices: Different regions of Italy use different herbs and spices to flavor their Osso Buco. Some popular additions include bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and sage.
- Vegetables: While the traditional mirepoix of onions, carrots, and celery is used in Osso Buco, you can also add other vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, or fennel to add extra flavor and texture.
- Liquid: While the traditional liquid used in Osso Buco is a mixture of beef broth and white wine, you can also use chicken broth, vegetable broth, or red wine for a richer, deeper flavor.
- Gremolata Variations: The classic gremolata is made with lemon zest, garlic, and parsley, but you can also add other herbs like thyme or basil, or swap the lemon zest for orange zest for a different flavor profile.
- Serving Variations: While Osso Buco is traditionally served with risotto or polenta, you can also serve it with mashed potatoes, noodles, or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth.
To make Osso Buco, you will need some basic kitchen equipment:
- A heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven: This is necessary for cooking the Osso Buco, as it allows for even heating and slow simmering.
- Tongs: These are useful for flipping and moving the meat around in the pot.
- Sharp knife: You will need a sharp knife to trim excess fat from the meat, and to chop vegetables and herbs.
- Cutting board: A cutting board will be needed for chopping vegetables and herbs.
- Measuring cups and spoons: These are necessary for accurately measuring ingredients.
- Zester or grater: To make the gremolata, you will need a zester or grater to grate the lemon or orange zest.
- Serving dishes: You will need serving dishes to plate the Osso Buco and the accompanying sides.
Optional equipment that may be useful:
- Slow cooker or pressure cooker: These appliances can be used as an alternative to the stovetop method, making the cooking process easier and faster.
- Kitchen twine: This can be used to tie the meat around the bone, helping it retain its shape while cooking.
- Fine mesh strainer: A strainer is useful for removing any impurities from the cooking liquid.
- Immersion blender: If you want to make the sauce smoother, you can use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables and sauce together.
How to store Osso Buco
To store leftover Osso Buco, let it cool down to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When reheating, place the Osso Buco in a pot or microwave-safe dish with some of the cooking liquid to prevent it from drying out. Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the Osso Buco is heated through.
It's important to note that the longer Osso Buco is stored, the more the flavors will meld together and the more tender the meat will become, so reheated leftovers can often taste even better than the original dish. However, it's important to use proper storage and reheating methods to ensure the safety and quality of the food.
Osso Buco Recipe Top tips
Here are some top tips for making the perfect Osso Buco:
- Use fresh, high-quality ingredients: This dish is all about the meat and the flavors, so use fresh and high-quality meat, vegetables, and herbs for the best results.
- Season the meat well: Before browning the meat, season it generously with salt and pepper. This will help to enhance the flavor of the meat and add depth to the sauce.
- Brown the meat properly: Browning the meat before cooking it in the sauce will give it a beautiful crust and help to lock in the juices. Make sure to brown the meat well on all sides before setting it aside.
- Don't rush the cooking process: This dish is meant to be slow-cooked, so don't rush it. Allow the meat to simmer in the sauce for at least 2-3 hours, or until it is tender and falls off the bone.
- Add the gremolata at the end: The gremolata is what adds a fresh, citrusy flavor to the dish, so don't add it too early in the cooking process or it may lose its flavor. Add the gremolata at the end, just before serving.
- Serve with a flavorful side dish: Osso Buco is traditionally served with risotto or polenta, but you can also serve it with mashed potatoes, noodles, or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.
- Make ahead for even better flavor: Osso Buco can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. This will allow the flavors to meld together and the meat to become even more tender and flavorful.