Sunday 15 March 2009
The bone marrow in the central core of osso bucco is what gives this dish its rich flavour and glossy appearance. Through slow cooking the meat becomes meltingly tender and the marrow so soft and sweet that it can be dug out using no more than a spoon. The final sprinkling of the gremolata adds a freshness and zest to the end dish that is necessary to counteract its rich flavour.
6 pieces of osso bucco, ask the butcher for ones of equal size
Sea salt and black pepper
40ml/11/2 fl oz olive oil
3 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped into generous-sized chunks
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bunch of marjoram
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
4 fresh bay leaves
1 tin of good-quality tomatoes
750ml/11/4 pints dry white wine
Salt and pepper
For the gremolata
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
The zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
Season the meat well all over, and pour the olive oil into a heavy-based saucepan. Place over a medium heat and, when the oil is hot, brown the meat well all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Pour off any fat remaining in the pan and return it to the stove. Turn the heat down and add all the vegetables, along with the garlic and herbs. Cook gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables have begun to soften. Now add the tomatoes, turning up the heat slightly as you do so, followed by the white wine. Cook for a further 10 minutes, then return the meat to the pan. Place a lid on the pan, set the heat to fairly low and cook for an hour and a half. By now the meat will be soft and tender, and the sauce rich and glossy. Taste and adjust the seasoning, it will need more salt and a good grinding of black pepper.
Traditionally, osso bucco is served with risotto Milanese, dense arborio rice generously laced with saffron, but the combination of thick sauce and buttery rice can be too rich for some tastes, so I sometimes serve it with potato gnocchi or even just a leafy green vegetable such as cavolo nero or spinach. I've done it here with gremolata.
For the gremolata, place all the ingredients into a bowl and toss together lightly with your fingertips. To serve, spoon the meat and sauce on to a warmed serving plate and scatter over the gremolata.
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