The tongue and taste know a no more delicate, sweet and entrancing sensation than a perfectly slow braised osso bucco. When my children were small osso bucco was one their favorite dishes. For children, there is no meat more tender and sweet than the rich fatty veal that surrounds the veal shank bone. The meat needs no knife. It melts with the touch of a fork. Then, after the meat, came the unusual table game of plunging into the shank bone’s center, its “bucco.” My girls giggled as they turned their forks upside down and plunged the edge of the handle into the bone’s center to retrieve its rich marrow pudding. It’s the center of the shank bone that gives this dish its name. In Italian “osso” means “bone;” “bucco” means “hole.” So, “osso bucco” means "the hole in the bone."
Finding good veal shank bone can pose a problem.Grocery store veal shanks tend to be very thin. For grocery store veal there is also the question of how the animal was raised and how it was slaughtered.A good butcher with quality meats from ethical sources offers something quite different.You will also have to be willing to pay for the difference. A good veal shank is not inexpensive.
As a Philadelphian, I have access to the excellent meats of D’Angelo Brothers on 9th Street. I would hope that you might find an equivalent butcher in your area.
Curiously, osso bucco was not something I ever had growing up. To the best of my knowledge osso bucco was not a dished served in any Italian American family that I know. My guess is that the cut of meat, an individual shank per person, simply did not fit the home style mass feeding of the Italian American kitchen.
I cannot even imagine an Italian family table where a dozen people would each have their own individual serving of a piece of meat on a bone.The only kind of veal on a bone that we would have would be a veal rib that went into the Sunday gravy or a stuffed veal breast called "panzetta."
I brought osso bucco back to my family after my studies and travels in Italy. It met with mixed reviews with the older folks. Those of my parents’ generation did not seem to care for the fatty quality of the veal shank. They had grown accustomed to leaner American style meats.Yet, some years later with my own children osso bucco was only really popular.While osso bucco may not be a recipe from the old generation Italian American kitchen, it deserves a place in the Italian American kitchen of today. This is one of the finest dishes that needs to be preserved and passed on not only to Italian Americans but to everyone.
Osso bucco recipes vary when it comes to the secondary ingredients that create the sauce. Many recipes call for tomatoes and garlic combined with other elements. I find that these recipes mask the sweet fatty delicacy of the veal shank. For me, the best osso bucco recipe requires little more than some lemon and a dose of wine and chicken stock.A simple wine and chicken stock braise will render a remarkable unctuously caramelized sauce. For a bit more texture and a deeper dimension of flavor add crimini or porcini mushrooms just short of the finish.Serve the osso bucco with a chicken stock risotto finished with Pecorino Romano and with a side serving of something bitterly edgy such as Brussels sprouts.Ossa bucco may not have been on the Italian American tables of the past century, but it is a delicacy that merits entry into the Italian American kitchen of our own generation.
Osso Bucco - The Illustrated Recipe
Osso Bucco - The Illustrated Recipe