These days, there seems to be various controversies revolving around so many food topics. Some of those controversies include high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, sustainable food and even free-range meats, to name a few. Veal is one meat that often comes up because of known issues with how they are raised and treated. Some folks even shy away from veal dishes because of farming practices. But rest assured, this classic Osso Buco is an exception since it was made with free-raised veal…
If you’re not familiar with veal, it’s a lean and tender meat from young calves. The only one place I go to for my veal is Strauss. They’re located just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border and is a reputable source for free raised veal. The veal calves are raised in the pasture, where they have unlimited access to mother’s milk and pasture grasses. Strauss also does not administered hormones or antibiotics.
The veal itself is a rich pink color and is typically lower in fat. For this dish, I used veal shanks, which breaks down and becomes extremely tender after slow cooking. The veal shanks are browned and combined with a classic mireapoix (diced onion, carrot and celery mixture) and braised with white wine and chicken stock. The use of a bouquet garni (fresh springs of rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and cloves) adds a wonderful depth of flavor. To serve, I paired this with steamed rice and garnished with fresh lemon zest and parsley.
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 whole cloves
Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
3 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small carrot, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
For the veal shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Veal shanks will brown better when they are dry. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.
In a large Dutch oven pot, heat vegetable oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.
In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt at this point to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary. The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.
Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.
Remove and discard bouquet garni from the pot. Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.