At home, I finally tackled one of my very favorite untouchable ‘restaurant’ dishes: osso buco, Italian for ‘bone with a hole’. A savory, rustic Milanese veal dish — perhaps no other dish is a better pairing for a frigid winter night — osso buco partly derives its intense richness from hours of braising exposed bone marrow, which gently leeches its jellied fats into a thick burgundy sauce. The resultant braise is imparted with an ineffable meaty richness that is truly incomparable. In fact, the best part of the meal might be at the finish, when the bone’s exterior has been picked clean and the inner marrow ready to be scooped out with a spoon. (I prefer the bone marrow — perhaps too rich to eat on its own — to be spread on a piece of fresh bread and sprinkled with plenty of gremolata, and chopped shallots, too, if you happen to have it).
I picked the traditional River Cafe recipe for its purist ingredient list (no anchovys this time) and verdant gremolata (I used lemon zest, parsley, and an excessive amount of raw garlic), and at the market splurged on three gorgeous, juicy, thick-cut veal shins. After two and a half hours, the veal was impossibly tender, the sauce luscious and shiny. Although traditionally served with a risotto Milanese (that’s with saffron), I had my heart set on a fluffy mashed potato bed to soak up the crimson juices. And to finish, the apple cake that I am sure we are all tired of by now, but which I cannot seem to get enough.
As you can see, we weren’t the only admirers of my osso buco — poor little Joni patiently watched the festivities from the sidelines. We satiated her little feline appetite with small bites of veal… there was certainly more than enough to share.