Sunday, February 20, 2011

Breaking the Silence

Hello followers!
I know I haven't been writing much. Mainly because I haven't been cooking much. I know, I know. Blasphemous! Travesty! Shame on me! But with Jon out of town for 10 days, Valentine's Day, and Marc's family in town...I haven't found the time and I've been eating out A LOT.

But this past Wednesday, when Jon texted me telling me he bought veal shanks and that he wanted to make osso buco...I was a little scared. First of all, I knew that this dish involves veal shanks but I had no idea what else went into it. Secondly, he wanted me to serve it over risotto. Another thing that I had never, ever made because I'd heard it required patience and strong stirring arms. Neither of which I have.

But off to Sunflower Market we went to collect everything we needed for our Italian feast. Carrots, celery, onions. Tomato paste and beef broth. Kitchen twine to hold the shanks to their bony centers. For the risotto: arborio rice, chicken broth, shitake mushrooms, and parmesan cheese.

For those who don't know, osso buco is a traditional Milanese dish. Literally, osso buco means "bone with a hole", which makes sense because the shank comes from the...well...let's call it the baby cow's forearm...and has a big bone in the center of it. Sorry to those of you who don't agree with eating baby animals...

The shanks are braised sloooowly in a veggie tomato sauce. The vegetables are strained out of the sauce after the braising period to give you a nice smooth sauce to serve over the meat.

Osso Buco
4 veak shanks
olive oil
salt and pepper
flour, for dredging
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, copped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 small can tomato paste
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups beef broth
kitchen twine

1. Tie kitchen twine around shanks to hold the meat to the bone. Salt and pepper both sides of the shanks and lightly dredge in flour.
2. Heat olive oil in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven until it smokes. Sear shanks about 5 minutes on each side until browned. Remove shanks and set aside.
3. Add to pan: chopped onions, celery, garlic, and carrots. Cook until veggies are tender.
4. Add tomato paste, simmer for about a minute.
5. Add white wine and simmer for 5 minutes to deglaze the pan.
6.  Return shanks to pan and add beef broth.
7. Cover and braise at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, turning veal every 30 minutes and adding beef broth as necessary.
8. Remove veal from roasting pan and set aside. Strain vegetables from sauce and return sauce and veal to roasting pan. Simmer until bubbly and serve immediately.

Sounds like a lot of work, huh? It's not so bad. Especially since I spent that hour and half making this:

Shitake and Parmesan Risotto
4 cups chicken broth
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
8 tbs (1 stick) butter
1 cup chopped shitake mushrooms

1. Heat chicken broth to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbs of the butter in a large sauce pan. Add onions and garlic to butter.
3. When onions and garlic are tender, add rice and coat with butter.
4. Add 1/2 cup of the hot chicken broth to the rice mixture. Stir constantly until all broth is absorbed. Repeat this, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time until the broth is gone.
(to make my risotto extra creamy and flavorful, I also added a tbsp or so of the butter when I added chicken broth) :)
5. When chicken broth is gone, add Parmesean cheese and chopped mushrooms. Stir until well blended and cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

*In hindsight, I should have cooked the mushrooms with the onions and garlic to bring out more flavor...but like I said, this was my first time!

I'm pretty proud of the end result. The risotto was incredibly creamy, and the meat fell right off the bone!

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