Osso buco, or Ossobuco, is a slow-cooked meat dish that is pure comfort food. Wrapped up in a blanket on a cold night, this is the meal that makes everything right. Veal is cooked in a tomato base on a low heat and basted every 15 minutes to produce meat that melts in your mouth. But the “crowning jewels” have to be the little nuggets of marrow on each piece of veal. They can only be described as umami-packed mouthfuls of delicious.
The use of fresh sage in this recipe brings an authentic Mediterranean flavor to the dish. If you don’t have any in the kitchen, check out our sage substitute guide; there will be something on that list to allow you to finish the recipe.
Although slow cookers are a good option for this recipe, you don’t need one. A simple, old-fashioned roasting pan is best. It needs to be large enough to position all the meat in one layer rather than lumping them on top of each other.
Classic Osso Buco
- 2 lbs veal shanks
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour plain flour
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- ½ bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 small carrot finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery finely chopped
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 ½ tsp dried sage or 10 leaves fresh sage
- 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place veal on a large plate and coat with a layer of flour.
- Add the butter to a roasting pan over medium-high heat. Once melted, place the meat in a single layer. Cook until each side is browned. Remove the meat and set it aside on a plate.
- Add the garlic and onion and cook for one minute before adding the bell pepper, carrot and celery. Cook until soft then return the veal and add the wine. Reduce heat and allow the meat to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, thyme, bay leaves, and seasoning then cover with a lid or aluminum foil and cook for 90 minutes or until the meat is tender.
- Serve with creamy polenta, saffron risotto, or mashed potato. Each piece of meat should be topped with sauce from the pot and then the gremolata.
How do I make gremolata?
How to Make Gremolata
- 1 cup parsley leaves Italian or curly
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 tsp lemon zest grated
- Finely chop the parsley on a chopping board before transferring it to a small bowl.
- Mix in the garlic and lemon zest
- Allow the gremolata to sit for 20 minutes before serving.
Reduce the garlic to one or two cloves if you don’t enjoy a strong taste of garlic in food.
Osso buco is commonly served with gremolata, a vibrant green sauce made of parsley, garlic, lemon, and, occasionally, olive oil.
If your sauce isn’t thick enough, mix a spoonful of cornflour in a small glass with water and pour it into the pan. Gently mix it in with a spoon and allow it to cook through. The sauce should thicken up nicely.
If you don’t have the time to make gremolata to go with the osso buco, garnish with some fresh flatleaf parsley or cilantro. Not sure which is which? Check out our infographic on parsley vs cilantro to get the rundown.
This recipe uses chicken stock as beef is a little too overpowering for veal’s delicate flavor. If you decide to use a cut of beef, then beef stock is a better option.
White wine is traditionally used for osso buco, but you can use red wine if you’re in a pinch.
Watch the video if you prefer using a pressure cooker
Osso buco is the Italian phrase for “hollowed bone” and is a reference to the shin bone of the bovine. Filled with marrow, it’s what makes this dish special.
Osso buco is a freezer-friendly recipe that can be cooked ahead of time and then frozen. Store in an airtight container for up to two months.
The original version of this recipe is called osso buco in bianco and does not use tomatoes. Cinnamon and gremolata are key components of the dish.
Frequently asked questions
What can I serve with osso buco?
Osso buco is best served with creamy side dishes due to the rich, flavorsome meat. Mashed potatoes, polenta, or saffron risotto (Risotto alla Milanese) are all suitable side dishes.
What animal does veal come from?
Veal comes from a young cow that is 6-7 months old. The meat is a lighter color than beef and is relatively tough, so it needs to be slow-cooked.
Are osso buco and oxtail the same thing?
Osso buco is cut from the top of the cow's shin and has a high proportion of bone in the meat. Oxtail comes from the cow’s tail and also has a bone in it filled with marrow. Oxtail has a deeper, stronger taste than osso buco. Both cuts of meat require slow cooking to bring out the best texture that falls off the bone.
Can you overcook osso buco?
Although the meat is braised, making it harder to overcook than some cooking methods, it is possible to dry out the meat. During the last 30 minutes of cooking pay close attention to the meat.
How can I stop osso buco from curling?
To stop osso buco from curling, remove the outer skins from each piece of meat before cooking. They cook unevenly, affecting the dish's flavor and appearance.
How thick should osso buco be?
A good size for cooking osso buco is 1 ½ to 2inches (4-5 cm). Although you won’t have much choice on thickness if buying from the grocery store, you can ask a butcher to cut them to size.
How do I thicken osso buco?
If the sauce in your osso buco is still running towards the end of cooking, you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed into a little water so that no lumps form.