Saturday, March 29, 2008

Osso Bucco

I sent this exact recipe to my friend (Kreis!!) a year ago.  If you will attempt to make it, make sure that you don't skip any step! You will be rewarded :-D

Osso Bucco is a good for parties because of two things:
1. It's easy to make, and you just leave it on the stove while doing
other things, or better yet you can do this one day in advance as it's
one of those dishes that gets better the next day.
2. It's a crowd pleaser and since it has red wine - people are
automatically impressed hahahahaha
This recipe is for 10-12 people (good sized portions)
Spaghetti noodles are ok, but i prefer flat noodles like linguine for
this, just don't use anything too thick like fettucine
1 cup olive oil (can be more, it depends on how big your pot is)
2 Big cans of diced tomatoes (I prefer the Hunts diced tomatoes in
Basil and garlic, don't use crushed tomatoes though)
1 small can tomato paste
1 Kilo Beef Shank - buy the ones with bones and marrow, to make the
sauce richer, buy shank with good fat marbling, not too lean
1 Can Pitted olives slice thinly (drain very well)
1 bottle Red wine (i prefer cabernet sauvignon, but any wine is ok
just don't use sweet ones)
1 Extra Large or 3 Medium sized onions
1 head garlic
Dried herbs (pre-mixed Italian herbs are good - thyme, basil, oregano, etc)
Salt and Pepper
Prep work:
Dice the onions and garlic into fairly small cubes
Wash beef gently and pat dry with paper towels - this is an important
step as we will be frying the beef
Season the top, and bottom sides of the shank with salt and pepper
GENEROUSLY - this is where most of your seasoning will come so don't
be too shy.  I usually use up half a cup of salt (rock salt not fine
table salt) for this and tons of ground pepper.  Rub the salt and
pepper in by gently massaging the top and sides with the salt.

1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot, you'll know its really hot when you
sprinkle water inside and the water dances inside.  A heavy bottomed
pot is a must since Osso Bucco is essentially a slow cooked stew.
2. When the pot is hot, add half the olive oil (enough for frying one
side, not deep fry).  Wait until the oil is heated as well.
3. When the oil is hot, gently drop one shank, and fry bottom side.
When bottom side has browned, brown all others (top and sides),
ensuring that all sides are sealed (fried).  This is an important step
because otherwise the beef will get tough.  Do the same for all
shanks.  Set aside browned shanks.

Side step: If the oil is too brown and looks burnt, its better to
remove this oil and other burned parts.  Then put fresh olive oil in
(no need to wash the pot, it already has beef essence).  If the oil is
fine, no need to replace oil.
4. In the same pan, bring down heat to medium high and toss in onions
and cook until wilted (you should still hear a good sizzle). Add some
salt and pepper to bring out the flavor of onions more (you are not
seasoning the dish, just the onions - use this as a guide for
seasoning proportions)
5. Add the garlic (we don't cook the garlic first because it becomes
bitter when it burns, so add it after the onions) and cook till
wilted.  Add some salt and pepper again to bring out garlic flavor.
6. Add tomato paste to the onion and garlic. To add a roasted taste to
the tomato paste and infuse the onion and garlic flavor, "fry" it with
the onions and garlic for a minute or two. It's ok to burn it a little
(very little though), when the paste starts sticking to the bottom,
scrape it with your stirrer.  The oil will get a red tinge.
7. Add the shanks back to the mixture, making sure to coat all sides
with the tomato paste mix.  Fry together for a minute making sure it
doesn't burn too much (or it'll get bitter - sound's difficult to
balance but im sure you can do it)
8. Pour the whole bottle of wine in. This is the time to scrape the
bottom parts to mix semi-burned tomato paste into the sauce. Let the
wine boil to remove the alcohol (you'll know this by smell). Around 5
- 10 minutes of medium simmer.
Side step: Check from time to time if shanks or paste are sticking
to the bottom, scrape the bottom if this happens.
9. When the wine reduced a bit and the alcohol is gone, add both cans
of tomatoes, sliced olives and 3 cans of water (same size).  At this
point its your discretion how much water to add, but ensure that there
is enough water to boil down for 4-5 hours.  The taste is a little
different if you add more water after the mix has boiled down and the
meat is still not tender (the taste is not as rich) so just gauge how
much you need.  Of course if the pot can't accomodate that much water,
just add more water a little at a time.
10. Season the mix at this point.  Add the herbs and a little salt and
pepper if still needed, I usually don't add much anymore given the
seasoning previously put in and the salty olives. Also, remember that
this will boil down so the taste will get richer, so just adjust the
taste at the very end...
11. Leave this too cook for 4-5 hours on medium low heat until the
meat is falling of the bone and the meat is very very tender.  The mix
should be boiling a little (more simmer than rolling boil)

12. Before serving, get the large pieces of meat, and mush with your
fork -  this is the true test if the meat is really tender, the meat
should separate without too much effort.  If the meat of the marrow
has not mixed in the sauce yet - scrape the insides and mix with the
13. Put all meat back in the pot and add cooked pasta.  Cook together
until the pasta has absorbed the sauce.  Make sure that the pasta is
well seasoned (salt the pasta water like the sea).  Otherwise the dish will be bland (but you know this already hehehehe).  Do this step right before serving so the pasta
doesn't get too mushy.
14. Put in a large platter and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top.
 Add parsley as garnish.

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