I’ve never made osso buco before…but I’ve eaten it once, and it was incredible. The reasons for never having eaten it before are:
1. It’s notoriously an Italian bistro or restaurant dish (The Italian term ‘ristorante’ meaning a fancier and more expensive restaurant than ‘bistro’), and here in Canada it usually sticks to our upscale versions of the ‘ristorante’. So it’s not the easiest to find, especially on a budget.
2. Making it yourself involves hunting down a specific cut of meat, and unless you go to a good butcher, it may be difficult to find. You can substitute cuts that do not feature the namesake “Hole in the bone” (Osso=bone, Buco=hole), but then you miss whole attraction of eating the marrow from the bone.
But since I once had a bison osso buco (and I don’t eat the traditional veal version), I’ve been wondering how I could recreate the experience. Sorry to any vegetarians, but there’s just nothing like it. I spent three weeks in Italy wondering why Risotto alla Milanese necessitated bone marrow, and now I very much understand. There’s a depth of flavour, an over-the-top gluttouny, that makes you appreciate every sinfully-creamy bite. This also comes from the traditional stick of butter used to fry the marrow…but mainly from the thickening nature of the marrow itself. Anyway, this risotto is the labour-intensive traditional accompaniment to osso buco. Since I’m a marrow novice, I think I’ll stick to simple creamy polenta as an accompaniment.
But I really want to make osso buco. When I stumbled upon a huge frozen cut of bison osso buco at Jean-Talon market at the butcher that specializes in bison, I decided it was time to learn. I even bought a decent bottle of red wine so I could have a glass or two over the course of a week and then use the rest to braise the osso buco. The thing is, I’ve started looking at recipes and most of them are served with a gremolata, a mixture of Italian parsley, orange zest (or lemon zest) and garlic. I hate orange in cooked food, and even the recipes that say to use lemon in the gremolata often have orange in the braising liquid itself. I’m not going to wreck my first home made osso buco experience by purposely cooking with an ingredient I don’t think I’ll like. I also am running low on wine since I drink a little each night…but that’s okay because I should have a dryer one for the braising anyway. You can rationalize anything.
Anyway, I have a request. To my seven blog followers (and other mysteriously anonymous readers), I’m looking for a recipe for osso buco that uses:
1. Red Wine, not white, since I’m using bison, not veal (maybe an osso buco recipe for lamb would feature this)
2. A braising method that I can do without a dutch oven (Ideally I could do the first searing and saute-ing in a large skillet or pot and then transfer to the slow cooker, but transferring it to a roasting pan and covering with aluminum for hours is also an option.
3. No orange (zest, pith, or juice). Preferably no juices but lemon. I saw a recipe with pomegranate…I’m not ready to branch out yet.
4. No other ingredients that will overwhelm the flavour of the meat itself. A sweet reduction or a savoury jus is perfect, but it has to be about the meat.
So please help. If you give me a recipe, I will try my very, very best to pull it off. Then you’ll get to read all about how the recipe went. I’ll be your own personal test kitchen.