Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Honey! I'm home!"

Those of you who have lived in an apartment building will know what this is about.

You come home on a dreary night, after a dreary day. You come in the door, and there's the smell of something in the air. Lamb? Pork chops? Onions and a hint of garlic... Probably the woman who lives in 202. She's kind of grandmotherly and is always making stuff. Or maybe the young couple with the kid in 406 -- nah, they'd never have time to cook. The Russian guy in 102? Those Russians love to cook meat...

But, wait! You come down the hallway to your apartment and the scent grows it possible? Could it be? You open the door and breathe fully.

"YAY! It's us! That wonderful cooking smell is US!"

And -- YAY -- it's veal chops!

So last week, we did a trial run of some Osso Buco alla Milanese for our big Northern Italian-themed dinner this weekend in the North Bay.

I mean, you gotta try these recipes out -- and as it turned out it was very educational. Osso Buco is not easy, but it turns out so yummy and tender. This recipe is again adapted from an old Cuisine and makes a lovely winter dinner.

Osso Buco alla Milanese

Bouquet Garni:

  • Peel of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup parsley sprigs
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 veal shanks, tied around the perimeter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¾ cup of AP flour
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 1 ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2- 21/2 cups chicken stock, homemade is best
  • 3 cups fresh tomatoes, seeded and grated into pulp
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • zest of 1 lemon finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Assemble the bouquet garni and tie it into a coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth.

Tie the veal shanks with kitchen twine around the perimeter to help hold them together as they braise. Then season liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour on the two flat faces (you don’t need to coat the sides) and place on a rack while they’re waiting.

Heat the butter and oil over a high heat in a large pan. Brown the shanks on both sides about 5 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

Turn down the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot and celery to the same pan. Sauté until golden. Add garlic and anchovies and cook for a few minutes.

Add wine and deglaze the pan. Reduce until the wine is almost gone. Add the chicken stock, tomato pulp and bouquet garni and return the shanks to the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil, spooning some of the mixture over the shanks.

Cover the pan tightly and place in the oven. Check it in about ten minutes to make sure that the mixture is just barely simmering in the oven.

Every 30 minutes, baste the shanks with some of the sauce and after 1 hour, turn each shank over. Continue cooking and basting for a total of two hours.

When the shanks are done, remove them and take off the twine. Keep the meat warm on a platter while you work.

Remove the bouquet garni and discard, then using a food mill, process the sauce. Add salt or pepper to taste.

Mix together the gremolada ingredients.

Serve the shanks covered in hot sauce with gremolada sprinkled on top.

Serves 8.

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