With the winter chill starting to seep its way into our homes in the evenings, my eye has been more drawn to the casserole and slow-cook style recipes in my collection of cookbooks and online databases of recipes. I’ve been wanting to try slow-cooking for some time, with rich, round-bodied flavours similar to my Coq Au Vin, but obviously with slightly heavier meats like lamb, beef or veal so that they would be tender, and falling off the bone with the extended cooking time. I have quite limited space in my kitchen, and The Mother has already restricted me from buying any kitchen appliance that takes my fancy – ice cream makers, sandwich press, a KitchenAid, or even a slow-cooker. So I decided that the best way to do this was to buy a heavy-based casserole dish with a lid – cook the dish on the regular stove top and then transport it to the oven for a few hours to let the beautiful flavours develop and stew. I had in mind to buy a good-quality casserole dish so that it wouldn’t be too heavy and it would last me for a few years. However once I visited David Jones and saw the price range of the Le Creuset dishes, I was reeling at the ridiculously expensive prices. Once examining the dishes however, they stated that the dishes could not come in contact with a naked flame, and so this didn’t suit my purposes regardless. In the end, I found a casserole dish that could be put in the oven and on the stove top at Kmart for the lovely sum of $30, and proudly hefted the heavy cast-iron dish back home. While I was at the shops, I had bought a bottle of red with the view of making braised lamb shanks. but as I was lining up at the butcher’s, I kept looking at the beautiful osso bucco. While osso bucco is traditionally braised with white wine, I decided just to improvise instead – surely red wine can only add a better intensity? I would start making this dish in the early afternoon if you would like it for dinner. I made the mistake of making it at 5pm, and so ended up having it for lunch the next day as I ran out of time. Otherwise I would have had dinner at 9pm! This recipe is loosely based on Julie Goodwin’s recipe for Osso Bucco, which you can find here. To serve four, you will need:
- 1/2 cup plain flour;
- 1/4 teaspoon salt;
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper;
- 2 veal osso bucco (you may need 3 or 4, depending on their size – but you need 1kg);
- 2 tablespoons oil;
- 4 carrots, diced;
- 200g button mushrooms, sliced;
- 2 brown onions, diced;
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped;
- 3 heaped tablespoons tomato paste;
- 1 + 1/2 cup red wine (I used a cabernet sauvignon);
- 1 + 1/2 cup veal or beef stock;
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes;
- 2 bay leaves;
- Mashed potato, to serve.
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley;
- 1 clove finely chopped garlic;
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Make sure that there is only one rack in the very centre of the oven. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a clean plastic freezer bag or bowl. Coat the osso bucco in the flour and shake thoroughly. Be careful to shake off the excess flour, otherwise it will burn in the pan. In the casserole dish, heat a tablespoon of the oil over a medium-high heat. Brown the osso bucco lightly and transfer to a plate. Lower the heat to medium. With the last tablespoon of oil, add the carrots, onion, garlic and mushrooms. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until the onion is translucent but not brown. Add the tomato paste to the vegetables and cook for a further minute. Into the dish, add the wine, stock, tomatoes and bay leaves. Add any of the leftover flour from coating the osso bucco. Return the meat to this stew. Ensure that it’s all submerged into the liquid, otherwise any meat poking out the top will be tough and dry. Place the lid on and put into the oven for 3-5 hours. Check from 3 hours onwards, and then when the beef is soft and falling away from the bone, it is ready. When the meat is cooked, if the sauce needs to be thickened further (it shouldn’t really), remove the meat and keep under foil. Place the pot on a medium-low heat back on the stove top and boil until the sauce is as thick as you like it. Keep on stirring so it doesn’t burn. Serve on mashed potato. For the gremolata, combine the garlic, parsley and lemon zest, then sprinkle over the osso bucco. It’s quite hard to believe that something so hearty and flavoursome can be made from quite basic ingredients. I can’t even describe the aroma wafting from the oven while it was slow-cooking; it was truly unique. Make sure you dig into centre of that bone for the earthy-tasting marrow as well.