Sunday, December 12, 2010

In the Kitchen: Osso Buco & Buckets of Rain

A soaking wet Sunday and all I want to do is curl up on my couch and cook up a cozy meal.  This one's guaranteed cold weather comfort food. A few weeks back I decided to make an adventurous purchase at the farmers market.  I'd never made osso buco before, but the convincing guys from Grazin' Angus Acres out of Ghent, NY had me sold - it doesn't take much when I imagine braised anything falling right off the bone.  Typically osso buco is made with veal shanks, but Grazin' Angus sells 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef and their shanks make a mean dish (Chelsea Clinton and Mark Mezvinsky thought so and featured Grazin' Angus and their "animal welfare approved" short ribs at their otherwise vegan wedding).  Basically, their well-raised beef translates to much leaner cuts of beef with greater amounts of healthy omega-3 fats.
Anyhow, back to the osso buco.  Try it out this holiday, it's a definite star at the table.

Osso Buco with Golden Raisins & Crispy Shallots
serves 4

2 lbs osso buco (veal or beef shanks)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
flour for dredging 
2 teaspoons and 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 to 3 cippolini onions, halved
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 can whole tomatoes
1/2 bottle dry white wine* (I used a wine with notes of pepper and crisp apple)
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
5-6 thyme sprigs
lemon zest, parsley and crispy shallots for garnish* (see note on shallots below)

Pat beef dry, season with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour.  Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sear osso buco for 5 to 6 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery and saute for 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned.  Add osso buco back into pan along with raisins and tomatoes.  Add wine and chicken stock as well as bay leaves and thyme.  Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 2 hours on the stovetop.  *Note that beef shanks may take longer than veal.  Preheat the oven to 375 and finish braising in the oven for an additional 90 minutes to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender, moist and falling off the bone.
Garnish with lemon zest, chopped parsley and crispy shallots.
*For crispy shallots, thinly slice 1 slice into rings or half-moons.  Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet and "fry" over high heat for about 4 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
Serve with parsnip puree.

Truffled Parsnip Puree
3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped, about 2 cups
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil
salt and white pepper to taste

Add parsnips through garlic into a medium saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes until parsnips are soft.  Transfer mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth.  Add in truffle oil and season with salt and white pepper to taste.

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