Have You Ever Considered Osso Buco with Beef Shanks
I love classic osso buco (AW-soh BOO-koh) made with veal shanks braised in wine, stock, and a whole bunch of vegetable ingredients. However, some home cooks are not thrilled with using veal as an ingredient, and others may find veal shanks too expensive so I thought I would give beef shanks a try and see if it made a difference.
The bottom line - it did. The meal was good, but not great.
I made some changes to my veal Osso Buco recipe. Besides substituting beef for veal, I took some shortcuts to make the recipe faster to prep and easier to make at home, but I don't think that's what affected the outcome of the dish.
The beef shanks are not as flavorful or tender as the veal shanks. Maybe I didn't cook the beef shanks as long as they needed to be cooked, but after two hours, they were a little dry and the meat didn't fall off the bone as veal shanks do.
The sauce from braising the meat in the wine and stock with all those vegetables is still incredible. I can't wait to serve the leftovers on wide pasta noodles with all that wonderful sauce.
We served the osso buco with delicious baby Yukon Gold mashed potatoes my wife expertly prepared and a spring mix salad with her favorite commercial dressing.
Some of the changes I made for this recipe work perfectly well with the classic veal shank osso buco. For example, I think substituting beef/brown stock for chicken stock gives the dish a richer flavor. I also don't have no problem using canned diced tomatoes for the fresh tomato pulp.
The original recipe calls for six veal shanks, but the package of beef shanks contained only four and was so much bigger than veal shanks that I thought it would be enough. If you are cooking this for a dinner party, the number you use depends on the number of your guests. You want to serve one per person for the presentation.
Osso Buco Revisited
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil more as needed
- 6 beef shanks
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 medium onions
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery sticks
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 anchovy fillets or 3 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 14 oz diced tomatoes
- Bouquet Garni consisting of the peel of 1 lemon, 3 parsley sprigs, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf
- Gremolada condiment to serve with
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic
- There's a lot of prep work involved, but once it's done, the rest is easy.
- Chop up the vegetables. The onion, carrot, and celery should be finely chopped, and the garlic should be minced.
- Put together the Bouquet Garni by adding all the ingredients to a piece of cheesecloth and then tying it up like a little satchel with a piece of string.
- Prep the beef shanks by tying kitchen string around the perimeter of each shank. This keeps them from falling apart while braising. This is more important when braising veal shanks that are more tender and fall apart more easily.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
How to Make at Home
- Start the cooking process by heating the butter and oil in a large pan that you can put in the oven over medium-high heat. A large Dutch Oven works great for this recipe, but I have also made it in a large fry pan.
- While the butter and oil are heating up, dredge the veal shanks in flour, shake off any excess, and then add them to the pan: Brown both sides and the edges.
- If your beef shanks are as large as the ones I purchased, you may only be able to cook two at a time. When the browning is done, remove and set aside on a separate plate and continue browning the rest.
- When all the shanks are browned and reserved on a plate, lower the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté these ingredients until the onion starts to caramelize. I needed to add a little more olive oil because the pan was too dry.
- Add the garlic and anchovy and continue to sauté until you can smell the garlic cooking but be careful not to let it burn.
- Add the wine to deglaze the pan and continue cooking it down until there is just a trace of wine left.
- Add the stock and tomato to the pan. This is an excellent time to add the Bouquet Garni and the beef shanks.
- Bring the stock to a boil, cover and put it into the oven. If you don't have a large Dutch or French Oven and your fry pan is not large enough to hold all the shanks, you will have to transfer them to a large casserole pan with a tight-fitting cover.
- I cooked the shanks for 2 hours, turning them shanks over after the first hour. I also basted them every 30 minutes, checking to make sure the stock was not boiling. If it was, I turned down the oven temp a bit.
- After two hours with veal shanks, the meat falls off the bone. With the beef shanks, this wasn't the case. The meat was not as tender as I would like it to be. I'm still not sure if it's the meat or if I need to cook them longer. In any case, and my opinion, the veal shanks are generally more tender and have more flavor.
- When the shanks are done cooking, remove them and place them on a large serving plate, remove the string and keep warm. Find the bouquet garni, remove it and throw it out. Now it's time to process the wonderful sauce.
- I use a hand blender to process the sauce right in the pan, but you can also use a regular blender, a food processor, or a food mill if you have one. Once you process the sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- On a warmed plate, add your mashed potatoes, risotto, pasta, or whatever you decide to serve this with; add one shank and top with a little of the gremolata. I like to have a small bowl of the extra gremolata at the table if anyone wants more.
What to Do With Leftover Osso Buco
If you tried my beef shank osso buco recipe from the other night and had any leftovers, you may be interested in knowing what I did with mine. Osso buco is one of those great meals that not only is fantastic the night you make it, but may be better a night or two later.
Osso Buco Leftovers
- osso buco leftovers
- 1 pound pappardelle pasta or egg noodles
- salt to taste
- side dishes your choice
- I started by heating up a big pot of water to cook the pasta. (see my pasta tips)
- Then I took all the meat off the center bone, cutting it up into ½ inch chunks. Another option might be to shred the meat with your fingers.
- Once the meat is cut or shredded, add it to a saucepan that will hold the meat and the leftover sauce. Heat that up over low-medium heat.
- While the meat is reheating, add some salt to the pot of water and then add the pasta. Cook the pasta to a firmness you like. I find the pappardelle pasta or any egg noodle pasta because it cooks faster than spaghetti or penne. So, be sure to time your side dishes accordingly. You want to serve this as soon as the pasta is cooked to your perfection.
- When the pasta is done, drain it, plate some in a large soup bowl so you can add a lot of that wonderful sauce and serve.
- I served these leftovers with a fresh salad with a mustard vinaigrette along with some broccoli that I made for the kids. It really doesn't get much better than this.