Main Course: Sunday supper, a Dinner Party, or a Romantic Evening
There’s a nostalgic quality to meats cooked for Sunday suppers that goes back to an earlier generation and big family get-togethers. They were never light meals, but they were always wonderful meals and the dishes were memorable. For me, there … Read More
There’s a nostalgic quality to meats cooked for Sunday suppers that goes back to an earlier generation and big family get-togethers. They were never light meals, but they were always wonderful meals and the dishes were memorable. For me, there are few things more comforting than a richly tender cut of meat that has cooked for hours, its wonderful scent flowing from the kitchen and perfuming the house. Now, that is my heaven.
This Osso Buco is fairly traditional, but it is such an extremely delicious preparation that in this case, I let the meat and tradition speak for themselves. Serving the Osso Buco over Saffron Orzo enhances all the flavors and makes for a stunning presentation. So whether you are trying to impress friends at a weekend dinner party, treat the family to a sumptuous Sunday dinner, or create a romantic dinner for that someone special in your life, this is a great dish to make. And it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.
On another note, Marrow is one of those rare treats, and Osso Buco is a great excuse to indulge. Be sure to provide little spoons for scooping the marrow out of the bones. Enjoy it spread on toasted peasant bread.
Braised Osso Buco with Gremolata and Saffron Orzo
6 center-cut veal shanks, cut 2 inches thick (each about 12 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
2 ribs celery, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 carrots, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 large onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 cups prepared marinara sauce or Basic Tomato Sauce (page 437)
2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade (recipe follows)
2 cups dry white wine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried
Saffron Orzo (recipe follows), for serving
Gremolata (recipe follows), for garnish
1.?Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2.?Sprinkle the veal shanks generously with salt and pepper.
3.?Heat the oil in a heavy flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the veal shanks and cook until browned all over, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer them to a plate and set it aside.
4.?Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the celery, carrots, and onion to the casserole. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, adding the garlic during the last 5 minutes.
5.?Add the marinara sauce, broth, wine, and thyme to the casserole, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
6.?Return the veal shanks to the casserole. (The sauce should reach about halfway up the meat.) Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake until the meat is very tender, 2 to 2½ hours. (Do not overcook the meat.)
7.?Remove the casserole from the oven and carefully skim the fat from the surface, using a metal spoon. Serve the Osso Buco over Saffron Orzo in shallow bowls, and sprinkle a tablespoon of Gremolata over each portion. Don’t forget the small spoons for scooping out the lush marrow.
makes about ²?³ cup
Gremolata is a fresh condiment traditionally served with Osso Buco. The combination of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic is a refreshing, unexpected contrast when sprinkled over the meat. It adds to the dramatic and complex flavors of the dish.
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, and toss with a fork. For the freshest taste, use within 2 to 3 hours.
Saffron Orzo and Basic Chicken Broth on the next page…
serves 6 as a side dish
Orzo is such a pleasing "small" pasta-and just right to serve with many foods instead of rice because it is so much lighter. Here I’ve prepared it in a broth scented with saffron, making a delightful golden bed for veal or lamb.
8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade (recipe follows)
Salt, to taste
½ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups orzo
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1.?Combine the chicken broth, salt, saffron, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-size pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the orzo, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the orzo is just tender, about 9 minutes.
2.?Drain the orzo and return it to the pot. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the parsley, and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Basic Chicken Broth
makes 3 quarts
There’s nothing like homemade chicken broth. I like to punch up the flavor by adding a few extra wings to my soup chicken or stewing hen. My mom always included parsnips and fresh dill. All these flavors plus slow simmering result in a delicious broth. Try not to boil the broth as it cooks, because boiling will cloud the end result. Slow and steady is the key. Partially cover the pot so your broth doesn’t cook away. You’ll be using a tough chicken-usually excellent for soup but not very good for eating-but try the meat before you discard it. It might be fine for a little chicken salad.
1 soup chicken or stewing hen (5½ to 6 pounds), cut into 6 pieces, plus extra wings (optional)
1 large onion, unpeeled
4 whole cloves
2 celery ribs with leaves, cut into chunks
2 carrots, unpeeled, cut into chunks
2 parsnips, unpeeled, cut into chunks
1 large leek (white bulb and 2 inches green), trimmed, halved lengthwise, and well washed
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled, lightly crushed
2 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
6 dill sprigs
6 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
6 whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons coarse (kosher) salt
1.?Remove the giblets from the chicken and reserve them for another use. Rinse the chicken and wings and trim off any excess fat. Place the chicken and extra wings, if using, in a large soup pot.
2.?Stud the onion with the cloves, add it to the soup pot, and then add all the remaining ingredients. Pour in 12 cups of water.
3.?Bring the water to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 1½ hours.
4.?Remove the chicken pieces from the pot (set them aside if you want to use the meat). Discard the large vegetables. Carefully strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as needed. Let the broth cool to room temperature. If it is not for immediate use, transfer the cooled broth to a storage container, cover it, and refrigerate it until the layer of fat has solidified on top, 4 hours or overnight. Remove the fat before using.
Note: Refrigerated, the broth will keep for up to 3 days; frozen, for up to 3 months.
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