Light and Shadow in my kitchen – Osso Buco
I do not always feel like a kitchen goddess. Not even very often, actually. Like the other day, when I made Elisenlebkuchen, the queen of gingerbread.
During a visit at my mother´s I rummaged through her cookbooks and discovered the original recipe for Elisenlebkuchen inherited from my grandma. Immediately, the memory of my childhood Christmas flashed through my mind, and I could almost smell the spicy little cakes again.
I wrote the gingerbread recipe down and as soon as I got home I had to try it, too impatient to wait until the next day and buy the proper ingredients. Out came this epic gingerbread failure:
They do not even resemble remotely the smooth, succulent, almost creamy cookies they should have become.
By hindsight, I could identify my mistakes: The recipe askes for “finely” ground almonds. I had only whole ones in my cupboard and grounded them in my food processor. Not nearly fine enough, obviously. The second mistake: I overbaked them thoroughly. They should only dry out in the oven more than actually bake. The taste was fine, though, but that was a small comfort.
Luckily there is light in my kitchen, too. Sometimes even bright light. Like yesterday, when I cooked Osso Buco. Originally, I intended to make an oxtail stew. The butcher had no oxtails in stock, but beautiful knuckel of veal instead and I decided to switch to Osso Buco.
On the website of Tyler Florence I found a tantalising recipe for this Italian dish. I have liked Tyler Florence since I watched his informative, amusing and mouthwatering documentary about Mexico. I hadn´t cooked one of his recipes before and decided to give this one a go.
It turned out so delicious that we decided to have it for Christmas dinner again. I changed just a few things: I added some juniper berries, skipped the originally added broth entirely for red wine and increased the number of bay leaves.
Adapted from Tyler Florence
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces of veal shank (about 3-4 lb)
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 lemon, zest peeled off in fat strips with a vegetable peeler
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 bay leaves
about 15 juniper berries
1 bottle dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, roughly mashed
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 anchovy fillet
2 garlic cloves
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Put the flour in a large shallow platter and season it with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Get in the habit of always tasting your flour; once it coats the veal it is harder to adjust the seasoning.
2. Dredge the veal shanks in the seasoned flour and then tap off the excess (extra flour will burn and make the dish off-tasting).
3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and hit it with a 3-count drizzle of oil. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan to melt.
4. Sear the veal shanks, turning carefully with tongs, until all sides are a rich brown caramel color. Drizzle with a little more oil if needed. (Do this in batches if the shanks are big and look crowded in the pot.)
5. Remove the browned veal shanks to a side plate. There will be a lot of flavor left over in the bottom of the pot. You’re going to use that to create your sauce.
6. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
7. Using the same pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrots, lemon zest, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley over medium heat.
8. Cook the vegetables down until they start to get some color and develop a deep, rich aroma. Season with salt and pepper; add a little oil if needed.
9. Nestle the veal shanks back in the pot. Pour in the wine and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
10. Add the tomatoes and stir everything together.
11. Cover the pot and put it in the oven.
12. Braise for 1 1/2 hours. Then remove the cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and the veal tender and nearly falling off the bone.
1. Mash the pine nuts, anchovy, and garlic together in a mini chopper or with a mortar and pestle.
2. Fold that into the orange zest and parsley.
3. Scatter the gremolata over the Osso Buco before serving.
Serve with pasta or polenta.