There’s a buco in my osso

Osso Buco - slow cooking Osso Buco with Sweet Potato mash

Osso buco, that perfect slab of unctuousness coaxed into melt in your mouth tenderness by a luxurious slow cooking. Would you believe that up until a few years ago I had no idea what it even was ? I assumed it was one of those things on the menu at an Italian restaurant that I would never order. Much like gnocchi and saltimbocca (not that I have anything against them, I just haven’t had a good one).

So it wasn’t until I started getting interested in the slow food movement, and slow cooking specifically as a means to softening up less appealing cuts of meat, that I decided it was time to try making osso buco for myself. I’ve had some success with my oxtail dish – coda alla vaccinara, which ranks on my list of tastiest dishes I’ve made in recent times, so I was hoping that the marrow would work it’s magic in this too, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Now normally my recipes on the site are pretty slap dash. Yes they work, and most of them I’d be happy to cook again… but for whatever reason I don’t. I get bored, I wander off, I forget. My attention span is about as short as a three year old in a cafe drawing pictures with colouring pens (actually probably less, because she was good Ed :)). So it’s a testament to taste if I write about something more than once, and if it gets adopted into my regular stable of dishes, then it’s pure gold.

So clearly risotto in it’s many forms is on that list… as is anything containing chorizo in it, and poached eggs. A chorizo risotto with a poached egg on top may just my ultimate mash up dish, but now I’m getting distracted again…

Back to the Osso Buco.

The recipe I based mine around is a simpler version of the common ones, with a few small twists. I personally don’t think carrots and celery add much to the flavour (well they do, but not in a good way), and I much prefer red wine to white wine for the cooking. This is for once something that I’ve taken to refining a little over the many times I’ve made it now. So you my appreciative audience can benefit from my willingness to rinse and repeat this one a few times over to get it just right.
You still don’t get exact measurements though… they’re for the weak :)

Osso Buco alla Matt

The ingredients

  • 4 chunky pieces of osso buco – Veal seems to popular but if you’re a little different you can think outside the box and take the hole in the bone definition to whichever kind of meat you like. Other examples would be venison, or a very tasty lamb osso buco, that I tried recently after asking the boys at “Meat The Butcher” (still love that name) in Dog Swamp Shopping centre to slice up some lamb shanks for me.
  • flour for dusting
  • 2 onions – chopped finely
  • 4 – 5 cloves garlic – chopped finely
  • 2 cans tinned roma tomatoes (home made if you got em), and extra passata
  • a bottle of red wine (you won’t use it all, but it’s good to have while you’re cooking)
  • sea salt and cracked pepper.
  • some parsley if you like

How I make mine

So dust the osso buco in flour and shake off any excess, then in a hot pan fry them in olive oil until they’re a golden brown colour all over. Then take them out of the pan to rest a bit and wait for their time back in the sun.

Now add some more oil to the pan and throw in your chopped onions and a little garlic. Cook them slowly down until they’re soft and then bring back the osso buco, laying them on top of a little onion bed, and dousing thoroughly with red wine (1 or 2 cups), pureed tomatoes (1 or 2 cans), and a sprinkling of garlic.

You now turn the heat right down on the pan, making sure that the osso buco are arranged so that they lie flat in the pan, and are mostly covered by the liquid, adding more tomato passata or wine to bring the level up. This is where the magic happens.
Try and find something productive to do for the next few hours while the wine and heat work their way into the sinews and activate the marrow in the middle of the bones. Personally I don’t think you can cook this for long enough (given that you have plenty of liquid so it doesn’t dry out). The longer you cook it, the more mouth wateringly tender it will become.

Along the way, you may want to give it a season with salt and pepper, and somewhere towards the end sprinkle over some more garlic and parsley, give that another half an hour and you’re done.

Be careful taking them out of the pan, as by this stage (2 hours + later) they should be falling away from the bone without you doing anything.

I’ve served mine over a variety of side dishes, a sweet potato mash, a regular potato mash, a pearl barley risotto alla milanese (not as great as it sounds), and I’m also thinking polenta would be fantastic.

Traditionally in Milan it’s served over the risotto alla milanese ( a rich saffron risotto ) with gremolata on top. Not that I’m much of one for tradition, but they are seriously onto something with this combination.

Give this one a shot, it’s 2 hours of your life you won’t get back, but the 30 minutes of eating it afterwards will totally make up for it :)

Lamb Osso Buco - Pearl Barley Risotto alla Milanese

29 thoughts on “There’s a buco in my osso”

  1. Osso Buco is my all-time favourite dish.

    Now Matt, I understand that your coffee machine is having a few problems – I think a little trip North is in order, just bring the Machine, the Sharon and the Ossu Buco. . .

    I have the wine.

  2. Matt,

    Looks fantastic. Very similar on a comfort level to the pea and potato stew recipe I sent you a couple of weeks ago.



  3. Wow, looks fantastic.
    The last time I had osso bucco at one of Perths’s ‘better’ brasseries there was no sauce, just dry, sticky, dark brown little pieces of meat, nothing, … just the mash it came on. What’s the point in going out and paying Sydney or Melbourne fine dining prices and being served very average food? The produce here is really good so I think we should take the slow food philosophy to heart, buy the best ingredients we can and prepare them simply & with care. We will eat like kings & avoid that sad, dissapointed feeling as we hand the card over. And… there will be enough money left to buy some ‘really really’ good wines, and some.

  4. Damn!… That sure looks good on a cold August night!

    All you need to accompany that wonderful “unctuousness” (Am in love with that word since I heard Kate Lamont use it at one of her tasting evenings) is a good glass of wine, a warm fire and some some great company!!! Mmmm

    Speaking of great local produce, I finally got in early enough to book a spot for the latest Slow Food offering for next month! My tastebuds tremble in anticipation! In the meantime I may just have to turn my hand to some winter comfort food… As therapeutic to make as it is to eat… and, “Osso” good :o)


  5. Yes Mr Grendel… I think we should think of some kind of rotation system for culinary O’s starting at ….?

  6. Oooh… Yes please! Mrs Lorraine she come too!
    The other “likely lads” have yet to met me in all my red-headed hyperactive glory Kam! Perhaps you’d better warn them! ;-)

    I think it’s about time to unearth that hoard of Kipflers from my vege garden and search for a suitable bottle of red from the wine cellar (i.e. bottom shelf of the linen cupboard!)

    31st sounds good, oh “Brave Band of Brewing Brothers”…


  7. I first tried osso bucco five years ago on my honeymoon. It was love at first marrow-tinged taste! ’till the weather grows cooler, I’ll feast upon your lovely version.

  8. Yes Mrs Lorraine, they have been warned, I love kipflers… skin on, and I’ve just received a load of wine I’ve had in ‘proper storage’ going back to 96.
    So…. 31 is a Friday….
    People are so shy

  9. Who are you people and what have you done to my blog ??

    Kam, I agree with you, there’s no reason at all why most home chefs can’t create meals that leave restaurants for dead, both in quality of ingredient, and the love that’s gone into the dish. No corkage is also a bonus. I’ve been thinking for a while that I don’t think the pinnacle of my food experiences are going to happen in restaurants, as much as I still like going out.

    Brad, I get the hint :) I’ll be out looking for ingredients today. I’ve had that recipe in the back of my mind for a while now.

    Grendel, my machine is indeed still dead, and if I were more organised I would have gotten around to your place already. I think osso buco for technical assistance is a pretty tidy arrangement.

    Lorraine, I’ve done a tasting night with Kate Lamont too, it was great… I still make the fennel and pernot bisque occasionally that we had that night. Yes, it may just be time to bring you and your kipflers out of the woodwork.

    S’Kat, welcome to the southern hemisphere… land of opposites :) Save this one away for a rainy day, it won’t let you down.

  10. I have many memorable qualities… SHY is definitely NOT one of them!

    Yes indeed… WE ARE the “Abstract Gourmands” (not dissimilar to the “Daleks”) and we shall take over your blog!!!

    I think I also have a couple of blocks of Valrhona tucked away which have been waiting for an appropriate moment to be immortalised into a divine epicurean delight… Mmmm

    Now where’s your RSVP Matt?

  11. Matt,

    My three year old would be delighted to know ‘the sausage man’ (which is your new name in our house) thought she was well behaved!

    Osso buco, sounds like a good match for the Clonakilla!

    I’d love to be able to find the little veal pieces, which are mainly all bone and marrow and with a tiny strip of meat only. What I mostly find / get is usually the large pieces which are mainly meat.

  12. Matt, I was really wondering how you were going to top being “the sausage king of Perth.” I really was. But now you’ve gone and done it. You are not only the king of all sausagedom but you are the burgermeister of bucco! Those piccys are killin me. *drool* and now I walk around with a spit cup under my chin like in Mel Brooks History of the World movie.

    I do want to ask if you’ve challenged yourself enough with the 2 other members of the “trinity” though. :D When I make this dish and others like it, I really push the mirapoix to the point where they will caramellize and practically disintergrate on their own during the cook time. If they don’t, then I saute them longer upfront till they do. Then when you stir around and the juices at the bottom you basically have a “paste” that’s been made. The carrot for me adds that “sugar” that is appreciated in balancing the acidity of the red wine and tomatoes. The celery adds…hmmm, well I will try to think of that by the next time we talk! ;) I’m totally with you though on doing a red instead of white.

    Also, love your advice about thinking outside of the leg so to speak and considering other shanks we have known and loved.

    Great post!


  13. Yes it’s meat, but your recipe and set out is pretty good. Like the conversational style and subheadings. I’m sure this is not the usual comment :)

    You must have vegetarian fans, surely?

  14. Vicarious pleasure reading this. One of my favourite winter dishes, despite my vegetarian partner who admits to enjoying the sauce over some mash minus the meat. Ah well, all the more for me!

  15. ’30 minutes of eating it’ …pretty sure that wouldn’t even last 10 minutes in front of me! Now that vintage is almost over I’ll have my ‘slow cook sundays’ back, this will definately be on my list of things to cook.

  16. If only you could find a good red wine to go with it eh Kate ? ;)

    and the 30 minutes was actually how long it took me to eat one handed while taking photos with the other… :)

    1. Hi Tina, I’d put a lid on the pan for most of the cooking, then take it off for the last half hour or so. It really depends how much liquid you’ve got in there and whether you want to reduce it all to serve.

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