Osso Buco – Italian Peasant Food

This past weekend, called for a celebration with some friends.  For a menu, we opted for Italian ?peasant food? and Osso Buco.  I served this rich meat treat over a bed of simple Risotto, Green Beans finished with a lemon...

This past weekend, called for a celebration with some friends.  For a menu, we opted for Italian ?peasant food? and Osso Buco.  I served this rich meat treat over a bed of simple Risotto, Green Beans finished with a lemon and onion sauce, an Arugula salad also dressed in lemon and a classic Panzanella salad.  It was a beautiful buffet to serve from  a ?wanna be? Italian.

I have learned to love the Italian ways of cooking and have always enjoyed creating Sauce or Gravy, Meatballs and Brisole.  The secret is like many things, time, great ingredients and lots of love.  Here is the link to previous post debating Sauce or Gravy

Here are a few hints if a pot of Osso Buco will be presented at your table soon.  Start with your butcher.  Order veal or beef shanks with the round bones filled with marrow for this special treat!  Since the recipe calls for some stock, I also pre-ordered some beef bones, all with marrow, and created the stock for both the Osso Buco and the Risotto.   These bones made a wonderfully rich stock.

Veal Shank
Veal Shank

I made this treat two days in advance of the Saturday night supper.  Something happened this time that was really a cooks treat in disguise.  The meat fell off the bones after the first cooking, and as I did not want to lose any of that rich marrow, I opted to change my serving plans.  I worked to keep the meat in the largest chunks as possible, storing this in plastic containers to rest until the rewarming on Saturday.  I removed any fat and carefully collected the marrow from each of the bones and rested this with the meat. I covered the meat with the rich sauce and allowed all of these flavors to marry in the waiting process.  In my opinion, this resting is a secret to many Italian Sauces.

The recipe I followed for my Osso Buco really was a combination of three recipes.  Julia Child?s Osso Buco Milanese was consulted, but Ann Burrell had a secret ingredient in fennel that I needed to include and then there is a stained recipe card from years ago that always gets pulled out when I create this treat.   I do not know whom to credit as the author of this original recipe.   This dated recipe called for a sweet white wine over the red I love it include in my ?peasant meal?.

Classic Osso Buco
Classic Osso Buco

Classic Osso Buco


  • 8 veal or beef shanks about 3 /4 to 1 pound each, tied equatorially with string
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 - 3 large onions, shredded in the food processor
  • 5 ? 6 carrots, peeled and shredded in the foot processor
  • 5 ? 6 ribs of celery, shredded in the food processor
  • 2 fennel bulbs, core removed, shredded in the food processor
  • 8 cloves of garlic, shredded in the food processor
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Small can  tomato paste
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes ? I use the Hunt?s Roasted Tomatoes as my favorite
  • 1 cup red wine (only use wine to cook with that you would drink!)
  • 1 ½ cup beef stock (take the time to make this from bones for this recipe)
  • 6 bay leaves, fresh are better than dry
  • 1 fresh thyme bundle
  • ½ cup fresh chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Select the largest Dutch oven for this dish.
  3. Season the shanks with salt and pepper then dredge in flour.  Heat olive oil to a medium high to high heat then add the seasoned and floured shanks.  Brown the meat very well on all sides, do not crowd the pan in this process.  As the shanks are browned, remove them to a plate.
  4. In a food processor, grate the onion, fennel, carrots, and celery.  Separately grate the garlic as you will want to add this last. After all your shanks are well browned, add these grated vegetables to the pot and cook with the pinch of red pepper flakes and some added salt and pepper.  Brown these vegetables well.  Do not rush this step as this will add so much added flavor to your sauce.
  5. Scrape all the browned bits from the pan as you cook these veggies. As these are finishing the browning process add your garlic and cook for another 5 ? 7 minutes.   After these are browned and your garlic is also cooked, add your tomato paste and cook for about 3 ? 4 minutes getting this paste browned as well.  Then add your wine, stock and your other tomatoes and seasonings.  Once this is well incorporated, add back your beef shanks and bring this mixture to a boil on the stovetop before you bake it in the oven for another 1 ½ hours.
  6. Bake this covered.  After 45 minutes check on the liquids and baste the shanks with the sauce.  Check on this every 30 minutes.
  7. The meat should be fork-tender in about 1 ½ hours.  At this point, remove the shanks from the sauce and keep these warm if you are serving immediately. Removing the kitchen twine from the shanks.   Boil the sauce on the stove-top to help to reduce and intensify flavors, about 10 minutes.  Re-check seasonings at this point.  Skim off any fat from the sauce.   Remove bay leaves and thyme bundle.

If you are making this ahead, remove the meat and cool.  Keeping meat and sauce separate.  In my latest run of this recipe the meat fell off the bones so I cleaned the bones and removed all fat and stored this ready to be re-warmed.  This really worked better in my opinion that serving this dish in the classic way.

I re-warmed this rich pot of Osso Buco on the stove top, sauce first, then added the meat so as not to break this up too much, re-checked the sauce for seasonings and then parked it in the oven at 250 degrees so my stove top was free to create two pots of Risotto.

Mangia!  Italian for ?eat? and enjoy!