Bison Osso Buco Recipe Challenge

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.


  1. (Anonymous) says

    I have no idea where to find a recipe like this, but I hope someone else does. I'll be very curious to see what you get!

  2. (MissWatson) says

    Thanks! Even the Joy of Cooking? I haven't looked there yet. I've looked in "A la Distasio", Bonnie Stern's Heartsmart Cooking, and a Slowcooker cookbook. I've also looked online, but it seems like a lot of people think orange goes with marrow…fools.

  3. (Anonymous) says

    Both versions of Joy of Cooking (the original and the later revised edition) have recipes that use only lemon zest, no orange. However, both use white wine. I'll keep looking.

  4. (Anonymous) says

    Ditto New American Heart Assoc Cookbook (25th anniversary ed) and Bonnie Stern Heartsmart. Both use lemon (no orange) but white wine.

  5. (MissWatson) says

    Hmm…so do I just use red wine instead? The white makes sense with veal, but I think I really need red for bison.

  6. (Anonymous) says

    I've checked two Italian recipe books and one says to red wine, while the other says white. You may be right, though. With bison red wine may be better. Also neither recipe uses orange. Both say to use lemon zest, but no orange.

  7. (MissWatson) says

    Oh thank goodness. If an Italian cookbook says it's okay, then it's okay with me. No Italian Grandmothers will beat me over the head with their spatulae for using red instead of white. Are there any other differences between the two recipes than the wine?

  8. (Anonymous) says

    Now that you ask… One says to cook it at 425 for an hour, the other says 325 for 2 hours. Personally, I'm a fan of low and slow. Curiously, I remember friends of ours making it by leaving it simmer slowly on the stove for a couple of hours. It certainly was easier to check on than in the oven.

  9. (MissWatson) says

    I definitely agree with the long and slow and was wondering about the putting the dish in the oven part…I was kind of hoping I could get away with transferring it to a baking dish covered with aluminum foil from the skillet on the stove and checking it as little as possible. 325 for two hours it is. Thank you!!

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