Osso Buco – Grass-fed Beef Shank Italian Stew

Osso Buco is an Italian braised beef stew which traditionally calls for veal shank. The dish name means “Bone with a hole,” referring to the large proportion of bone to meat in a shank that gives the dish its characteristic flavor.

We don’t raise veal, (our calves are energetic and don’t get fill out until they’re basically full-grown, while commercial veal is some pretty yucky stuff), so we decided to try making it with the shank of our regular grass-fed beef. Here is Jerica’s adaptation of the recipe. It is very tender and tasty, though it takes a little longer than regular veal-based recipes. Try it and let us know what you think!

1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves

3-4 pounds grass-fed beef shank
all-purpose flour, for dredging
sea salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup lard or butter

1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 Tbs tomato paste or 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 cup dry white wine (Jerica used Chablis)
2-3 cups chicken stock
3 Tbs parsley, chopped
1 Tbs lemon zest

Tie up the 4 herbs in a strip of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine. This is your bouquet garni. Set aside.

Dredge shank in flour and season with salt and pepper. Brown in a heavy pot, such as a dutch oven, with hot lard or butter over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and set shanks aside.

Add onion, carrot, and celery to pot and salt generously. Saute, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add tomato.

Add shank, wine, and chicken stock to the pot, nearly covering the shank with liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until fork tender. Remove the bouquet. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with parsley and lemon zest. Serve to guests sitting down, or else they might fall over because it tastes so good.

Melting the fatA good, stable fat is crucial to the healthfulness of any dish. Choose heat-stable fats like butter, lard, and tallow for sauteing and browning. Dredge the shank in flourDredge the shank in flour, shaking off the excess. This improves the flavor and thickens the gravy, but can be omitted for low-carb and paleo diets.
Brown the shank in hot fat to create the Maillard reaction flavors that are characteristic of stove-cooked meats. When you dice your veggies, try to keep their sizes uniform. Always use a good, sharp knife. (If you notice the celery missing, it’s because I was out…)
Alternatively, you can use tomato paste, but since it’s tomato season, we have plenty of fresh tomatoes. This is a Black Krim. Don’t forget to remove the seeds and juices! Stir often, and add more fat if necessary, to keep the veggies from caramelizing. while caramalized onions are my favorite, that’s not the flavor we’re going for this time.
Create a bouquet garni with fresh, home-grown herbs! Rosemary and thyme are particularly easy to grow. I made this up myself, and I didn’t go to chef school, so no laughing at my technique!
The finished dish! The finished product! While it may not be as tender as the same dish made with veal, I’m satisfied because it’s made with humanely-raised, natural grass-fed beef. Still pretty darn tender, though!

One Response to Osso Buco – Grass-fed Beef Shank Italian Stew

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for publishing this!! Can this be made ahead and reheated for dinner after work, or is it best served immediately? Really hoping I don’t have to wait for teh weekend to make it!

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