Saturday, July 12, 2014

Slow Braised Osso Buco Milanese

Ossobuco is a Milanese speciality of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. It is often garnished with gremolata and traditionally served along with risotto alla Milanese.  The origins of the dish appear to go back to the 1800's.  There appear to be two types of ossobuco: a modern version which includes tomatoes and the original version which does not. The older version, ossobuco in bianco, is flavored with cinnamon, bay leaf and gremolata. The modern and more popular recipe includes tomatoes, carrots, celery and onions. Gremolata is optional, although still very popular.

The star of the show in this dish is obviously the veal shank.  It's flavorful but tough, making it well suited to slow braising.  Braising the shanks in this flavorful "gravy" renders the meat so incredibly tender that it practically melts in your mouth. The veal shank comes from the top of the thigh, which tends to have a higher proportion of bone to meat than other cuts of beef. It is then cross-cut into sections about 2 inches thick.  So when you pick one up at the market, you will see the characteristic bone in the middle of the piece of meat, giving the dish it's name..... osso buco which is Italian for "bone with a hole" (osso bone, buco hole).

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Ingredients:

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, kept whole
    • Cheesecloth
    • Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
  • 3 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 medium sized carrots, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups (15 oz can) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
Gremolata 
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic (1 -2 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)


I went beyond the traditional white wine in my ingredients and added some additional red wine for a little more depth of flavor.  This is, of course, a personal preference.  Make the recipe to your liking, as always.  If you prefer to not use wine at all in your dish, I would substitute 1 1/2 cups of beef or chicken broth in place of the white + red wine step.

Step-by-Step:    
Let's start off by making our bouquet garni.  This is just a little packet of seasoning that we will tie up so that we can fish it out later on.   Add your rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and garlic cloves into a square of the cheesecloth and tie it up with a piece of kitchen twine.  Bam!  Nothing hard about that.  Set it aside.
1 sprig rosemary, 1 sprig thyme, bay leaf, 2 whole cloves garlic
Prep your meat.  
Pat your veal shanks dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.  We need them to be dry so that we can get a nice sear on them.  Tie them up with the kitchen twine so they won't fall off the bone later on when they get really tender.  Season each of them generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Dredge each of them in flour and shake off the excess.  I know you've done this hundreds of times with other meats, right?  Nothing new.
2 veal shanks, about 2" thick each
Tip - If you would prefer to use beef shanks, you will need to extend your cooking time.
Pat dry thoroughly!
Tie them up.
season generously with kosher salt and black pepper
dredge in all purpose flour
This coating will give us the beautiful color we want.
Let's get cooking!
You can go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 degrees at this point.  In a large Dutch oven pot, heat the extra virgin olive oil until really hot (you should almost start to see it shimmer).  Carefully add the tied veal shanks to the hot oil (use long tongs!) and sear them all sides until they are nice and brown.  That may take about 3 - 4 minutes per side.  Remove the browned shanks and set them aside.  
1/4 cup EVOO
They should start sizzling immediately.  If not, the oil is not hot enough!
Don't turn them until you get a nice color developing on them.
Remove to a pan when brown on all sides.
Tip - If your twine ends up coming off while you are searing the shanks, don't worry about it, just tie on some new pieces once they've cooled off a bit, before you put them back into the sauce.
 
To that same pot, add your chopped onions, carrots and celery.  Season the vegetables with a healthy pinch of kosher salt to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables.
1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium sized carrots, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
kosher salt
Saute them until soft and translucent, probably about 7 - 8 minutes.  Add the tomato paste to the vegetables and stir well to incorporate.  

2 Tbsp tomato paste
To the dutch oven, add in both the red and white wines and 2 cups of the chicken stock (reserving the remaining 1 cup). 
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
"Why chicken stock?"  This is what my husband asked me.  And I betcha a lot of you may have the same question.  This is my best guess.  Veal stock would probably not be accessible to most people.  Vegetable stock would be underwhelming.  That quantity of beef stock may be too overpowering for the veal.  But believe me, there will definitely be some depth of flavor here!  Don't you worry.  Just look at this braising liquid!!

Return the browned shanks to the pot.  Now add the bouquet garni and the petite diced tomatoes.  Bring all of this to a boil. 
This quantity of recipe can accommodate another veal shank (maybe even two), but there were just the two of us, so I only used two.  So we had way more braising liquid than we needed. 
Add the bouquet garni to the braising liquid
1 1/2 cups (1 15 oz can) petite diced tomatoes
Bring to a boil
Braise.  Once the liquid has come to a boil, transfer the dutch oven to the preheated 375 F oven for 2 hours.  After the first hour, you will want to check on them every 15 minutes or so, making sure that the braising liquid remains about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the meat, and basting them with that amazing sauce.  If the level of the liquid starts getting too low, add the remainder of the chicken stock.  Again, the level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank!

While your veal shanks are in the oven, combine the ingredients for the gremolata.  Set aside.  Make sure you only get the yellow part of the lemon, not the white pith underneath. 
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped rather fine
1 tsp finely chopped garlic (1 -2 cloves, depending on size)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
At the end of the cooking time, when you see that they are sufficiently succulent, carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place them in decorative serving platter.  You will want something large enough to go under the whole piece of meat to transfer it, so it won't fall apart.  Don't forget to cut off the kitchen twine!

You can remove the bouquet garni from the pot and throw it away.  Then pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks.  Garnish your osso buco with the gremolata and impress the heck out of your dinner guests!!!!   Collect your applause!  This dish goes wonderfully with risotto, polenta, or just served over some good old mashed potatoes!


I hope you enjoyed this amazingly delicious recipe!

There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order a signed copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook! 
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)

Here's just one delicious example - Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole.  Ole'!

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Easy Meatball Sub Casserole

Black Pepper Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Mongolian Beef

Tiramisu

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Garlic Aioli

Tomato Basil Chicken
 
Written Method:   
Let's start off by making our bouquet garni.  This is just a little packet of seasoning that we will tie up so that we can fish it out later on.   Add your rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and garlic cloves into a square of the cheesecloth and tie it up with a piece of kitchen twine.  Bam.  Nothing hard about that!  Set it aside.
Prep your meat.  
Pat your veal shanks dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.  We need them to be dry so that we can get a nice sear on them.  Tie them up with the kitchen twine so they won't fall off the bone later on when they get really tender.  Season each of them generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Dredge each of them in flour and shake off the excess.  I know you've done this hundreds of times with other meats, right?  Nothing new.

Let's get cooking!
You can go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 degrees at this point.  In a large Dutch oven pot, heat the EVOO oil until really hot (you should almost start to see it shimmer).  Carefully add the tied veal shanks to the hot oil (use long tongs!) and sear them all sides until they are nice and brown.  That may take about 3 - 4 minutes per side.  Remove the browned shanks and set them aside.  

To that same pot, add your chopped onions, carrots and celery.  Season the vegetables with a healthy pinch of kosher salt to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute them until soft and translucent, probably about 7 - 8 minutes.  Add the tomato paste to the vegetables and stir well to incorporate.  

To the dutch oven, add in both the red and white wines and 2 cups of the chicken stock (reserving the remaining 1 cup).  Return the browned shanks to the pot.  Now add the bouquet garni and the petite diced tomatoes.  Bring all of this to a boil.  
Once the liquid has come to a boil, transfer the dutch oven to the preheated 375 F oven for 2 hours.  After the first hour, you will want to check on them every 15 minutes or so, making sure that the braising liquid remains about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the meat, and basting them with that amazing sauce.  If you level of the liquid starts getting too low, add the remainder of the chicken stock.  Again, the level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank!
While your veal shanks are in the oven, combine the ingredients for the gremolata.  Set aside.  Make sure you only get the yellow part of the lemon, not the white pith underneath. 
At the end of the cooking time, when you see that they are sufficiently succulent, carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place them in decorative serving platter.  You will want something large enough to go under the whole piece of meat to transfer it, so it won't fall apart.  Don't forget to cut off the kitchen twine!

You can remove the bouquet garni from the pot and throw it away.  Then pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks.  Garnish your osso buco with the gremolata and impress the heck out of your dinner guests!!!!   Collect your applause!  This dish goes wonderfully with risotto, polenta, or just served over some good old mashed potatoes!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Watermelon Thyme Martini

Happy 4th of July everybody!!!  I am SO excited to be sharing this post with my friend Terry Jordan, who is the best bartender I know!  If you are anywhere near Hattiesburg, MS, you MUST find him and have him make you a drink, as he is absolutely a superstar.  Just ask anyone around here, and they will tell you the same.  Currently, Terry works at Patio 44, where you can enjoy your drinks or food either inside or outside on the spacious patio, often with a musician playing in the evenings.  You know the kind of place, right?  

Well one day recently I asked Terry to make me a drink.  That was the extent of the instructions.  I've known him long enough to blindly put my order in his hands and know that he will come up with something wonderful and original that I will fall in love with.  That's a lot of trust, right?!  I know that he is always experimenting with new flavor combinations, and he's never let me down.  But anyway... he came out with this watermelon thyme martini.  OH MY GOSH!!!!  


Ingredients:   (for 1 martini)
  • 1/2 lemon (you will need the rind as well)
  • 2/3 lime
  • 1/2 cup watermelon chunks
  • 4 sprigs thyme (2 tsp)
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz Absolute Citron vodka
I'm giving you the ingredients for one drink at a time, because that's the way bartenders do it.  Period. 

Just so you all know, I've never had a "guest recipe" on here before, but I SO NEEDED to have this recipe, that I messaged Terry and offered him the first official GUEST BLOGGER spot on Menu Musings!  Woo HOO!!!!  :)  So Terry gets all the credit for this recipe, folks!  Do visit him and order drinks for yourself and see how awesome he is... and by all means, please tell him I sent you!
* Terry's additional suggestions for you!
  • dry roast thyme to make thyme simple syrup
  • puree watermelon ahead of time to make watermelon ice cubes for garnish
Step-by-Step:   
Begin my cutting all of your fruit, and preparing your simple syrup if you are not using a purchased simple syrup.
Here are all of our players.  Ready for some action!
We will need watermelon both for the recipe and the garnish.
Okay.  Let's do it!
After you squeeze the lemons in the shaker, go ahead and throw the rinds in as well.  The essential oils from the rinds will help flavor the drink, and they will all be strained out later.
1/2 of a lemon
1/2 cup of watermelon
Not only will these be perfect for the 4th of July, but these will be great ALL summer!  So refreshing!
4 sprigs of thyme leaves (about 2 tsp) stripped from the stems
This is what it looks like so far.
Now it's time to start muddling it all together really well.  You need to extract all the juice from the watermelon as well as the lemon rind, etc.
So while you are doing all this, you need to have your glass chilling.  This is one of those secret bartender tricks. Ahhhh... Now we know!!! 
Back to the show.
Now add about 2/3 of a lime.  I mean, come on, people.... the balance of flavors in this thing is spot on!  I think I learned that I need to spend less time sitting outside on the patio and a little more time watching what all goes into the glass.  What a fun "assignment" this was!

Now 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.  Terry says that it helps the drink "stay on the palate longer."  

Now 2 ounces of Absolute Citron vodka.  Okay - this is something you'll never see ME do.. I guess you have to "feel" what 2 ounces feels like?  Yeah... I have to measure everything out.  That's why HE's back there making you drinks.  I'd have orders backed up 'till Christmas! 
Add ice to your shaker, and shake - shake - shake for a good minute until the drink is super cold.  Terry's drinks are THE coldest!  
Now normally I would choose one photo to represent the shaking of the drink, but when I saw the progression of the shaking, they tell such a story, that I couldn't bear to take them out.  Terry's eye's and brow tell the story of the conquest of the drink.  From eyebrows up (let me shake this drink now), to all the way down (I - will - NOT - be - defeated - by - this - DRINK!)!  LOL!!!!!!  


I love this shot so much!  It looks like Terry has just defeated his opponent.   The only thing in focus is this cold shaker, which he is presenting as the prize.  "See?  Here it is.  We've DONE it!" (brows relaxed)  Geez, I realized maybe I haven't been working quite hard enough at my drinks.  Have you guys been tipping your bartenders?  :)
Now strain your drink into your well chilled glass.  Garnish if you'd like with a slice of watermelon and a sprig of thyme.
Please join me in thanking Terry Jordan over at Patio 44 for joining us on Menu Musings!  I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July!!!!
I hope you enjoyed this awesome guest recipe!
There are hundreds more recipes in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order a signed copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook! 
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Orzo Artichoke Pasta Salad

Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole

Korean BBQ Shish Kabobs

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Grilled Zucchini Rolls

New Orleans Praline Brownies
Written Method:
Begin my cutting all of your fruit, and preparing your simple syrup if you are not using a purchased simple syrup.  After you squeeze the lemons in the shaker, go ahead and throw the rinds in as well.  The essential oils from the rinds will help flavor the drink, and they will all be strained out later.  Add in the juice from the lime and the watermelon chunks.  Strip the leaves from the thyme and add them to the shaker.

Now it's time to start muddling it all together really well.  You need to extract all the juice from the watermelon as well as the lemon rind, etc.  While you are doing all this, you need to have your glass chilling. 

Now add the simple syrup and the vodka.  Add ice to your shaker, and shake - shake - shake for a good minute until the drink is super cold.  Now strain your drink into your well chilled glass.  Garnish if you'd like with a slice of watermelon and a sprig of thyme.

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