Osso Buco

Osso Buco (Slow-Cooker)

… an Italian stew using shin steaks a.k.a. shanks

  • Two to four 1-1/2- to 2-inch-thick beef shin steaks or shanks (about 3 lb.)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free 1-for-1 substitution flour)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion (red or yellow or sweet) , chopped (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped/crumbled dried rosemary
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (up to 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest (optional)

Put flour in a wide, shallow dish. Season the shanks all over with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour; shake off the excess flour.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the shanks to the skillet. Cook until golden, turning once, about 10 minutes. (If you are prepping for the next day, set the shanks aside.)  Transfer the shanks to a slow cooker.

Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the pan with another Tablespoon of butter.  Saute until soft (8 minutes).  Add wine, tomato paste, chicken bouillon to the skillet.  Stir in thyme, rosemary, garlic and bay leaf. If this is for tomorrow’s meal, return the shanks to the pan and allow it to cool.  (To cool in a hurry, put the covered pan in a sink with an inch or so of water.)  Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and pour the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker. Add the water. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours—the meat will be very tender and almost falling off the bone.

If you do not plan to serve one shank per guest, remove the shanks and debone them, trimming off excess connective tissue.  Punch out the marrow in the center and chop it finely to return to the sauce.

If you want the sauce to be thicker, pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a large skillet and return the meat to the slow cooker to keep warm. Simmer sauce over medium heat until reduced to about 2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve over the carb of your choice; e.g., mashed potatoes.  To feed a crowd, cook a pound of noodles, drain and stir into the crock pot meat and sauce.

Remove the shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter.  Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks.  Garnish with optional lemon zest.

NB:  The traditional presentation of the shanks is somewhat elaborate, involving tying a string around each shank and using a bouquet garni in a cheesecloth bag.  It is then garnished with “Gremolata”.