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Published January 31, 2012, 11:30 PM

Halgrimson: Osso buco well worth splurging

If you want to blow your grocery budget sky high, I’ve got just the thing for you. The dish is Osso Buco.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

If you want to blow your grocery budget sky high, I’ve got just the thing for you.

The dish is Osso Buco; osso meaning “bone” and buco, “hole.” It consists of braised veal shanks with vegetables. The shanks, at $12.99 a pound, are what make the meal pricey.

Osso Buco comes from Italy and is traditionally served with Gremolata, a garnish made of minced parsley, lemon peel, garlic and risotto – a deliciously creamy rice concoction made with Arborio rice, onions, stock and Parmesan cheese; in this case it was Risotto Milanese, which calls for saffron.

From time to time, my cooking friend, Oscar Flores-Ibarra, comes over to prepare a meal in my kitchen. I plan the menu and do the set-ups, and he does the hard work.

When we are not cooking together, Oscar is a husband, father, neighbor, a Minnesota State University Moorhead professor and all around bon vivant.

Our menu this time as it has been before, was Italian – Tomato and Bread Soup, Osso Buco Milanese with Gremolata, Risotto with Saffron, Sicilian Escarole Salad with Herbs and Anchovies and Perugian-Style Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake.

We began early one morning with the cheesecake, then the soup and when those were done, we started on the Osso Buco. The risotto is made at the last minute, and the salad is served after the main course, so both could wait.

I found the shanks at Prime Cut Meats, 2434 S. University Dr., Fargo. There were four pieces cut about 2-inches thick in each package totaling just less than four pounds which was enough to serve four people. And the saffron, at $7.89 for ½-gram at Penzy’s online store, doesn’t help the recipe’s bottom line either.

Osso Buco

½ cup flour

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 pieces veal shank with bone, cut 2 to 3 inches thick, about 4 pounds

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

1 large carrot, diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled, root removed and minced

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups veal or chicken stock

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

Gremolata for serving

In a paper bag, shake veal with flour, salt and pepper to coat. Tap off any excess. In a large heavy pan, heat oil and butter on medium heat and sear shanks on all sides. Add more oil and butter if needed. Remove the browned veal shanks and set aside.

Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and parsley to pan and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Raise heat to high, add wine and deglaze pan. Return shanks to pan, add bay leaves, stock and tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 1 hour or until meat is tender. Baste meat a few times during cooking. With a slotted spoon, remove meat to a warmed platter and cover with foil. Turn heat to high and cook to reduce sauce. Pour sauce on meat and decorate with gremolata.

Gremolata

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Grated rind of 1 orange

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Strew gremolata over Osso Buco before serving. Serve Osso Buco with Saffron Risotto. Serves 4.

Risotto Milanese

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 cups rice such as Arborio or basmati

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pinch of saffron

3 to 4 cups chicken stock, simmering in a pot

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until softened and golden. Stir in rice, butter, saffron and 3 cups chicken stock. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. If rice sticks, add a little more hot stock, stirring after each addition until well mixed.

Remove cover and allow excess stock to boil off. If rice is too dry, add a little more hot stock and cover. Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes. Rice should be tender and all of the liquid absorbed. Keep pan covered until ready to serve. When ready, stir in Parmesan and turn rice out on a warmed bowl or platter. Makes 4 servings.

Sources: Italian Meals in Minutes from Time-Life, www.epicurious.com

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