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Chris Amirault

Ossobuco -- eG Cook-Off 44

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Given the fact that one isn't using a ton of the stuff for cooking, I think "dry white wine" will suffice.

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Problem solved: just got an orvieto classico as a gift last night. Getting geared up to cook today.

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By sheer coincidence, I made ossobuco on NYE, following Hazan's recipe. I was unable to obtain the shanks from Whole Foods (not sure why - they originally took my order, than canceled), and ended up paying about $20/pound :sad: at my local butcher.

Anyway, none of my guests would have gone for the marrow, so I did scoop out some part way through the cooking process to use in the risotto.

At any rate, the dish turned out great, and the risotto milanese was a nice accompaniment, but definitely boring on its own (we had more leftover risotto than leftover ossobuco.

I used a dry pinot grigio in the recipe, and served the ossocbuco with a Barolo and a Barberesco.

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As I got the ossobuco in the oven, I realized that there were lots of potentially interesting braising tricks built into my approach for folks who might find this recipe a bit intimidating, particularly given the price of these damned shanks. (Nearly all have been stolen from others, mind you, often from around here. :wink:) As a result I took a lot of photos of the mise prep, stovetop cooking, and so on.

Here are the shanks:

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I tied them up with string: simple slip knots to make a loop, two for each shank, ends trimmed:

gallery_19804_437_173020.jpg

As you can see, one is about 1 1/2" thick but with a larger diameter, whereas the other is about 2" thick and a smaller one. Not sure what effect that will have on the final dish.

After all the discussion about the marrow, I wanted to keep it in the bones, so I sautéed 4 oz of the pancetta I've cured here in a few Ts of butter to brown it and soften it up. (Pancetta without additional oil tends to harden quickly as you cook it.)

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Remove the pork and add the shanks into the fat to brown up on all sides:

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I do all of this in a Sitram stainless sauté pan: better browning, more room to maneuver, and those wonderful high sides:

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Very well browned -- and all done while I did the vegetable, tomato, and herb mise:

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Mirepoix, with 2/3 c carrots, 2/3 c celery, 1 c onion, all in small dice:

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Since I'm not going to be blending up these vegetables in the final sauce, I took the extra time to get them just right. Well, that and because I love using my new nakiri knife.

The mirepoix spent about 10 minutes over high heat:

gallery_19804_437_334459.jpg

Added some lemon rind (no pith -- used a vegetable peeler) and about 1 tsp minced garlic:

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After a couple of minutes, I dumped that all into a strainer to remove most of the fat. (If this were going to sit in the fridge overnight, I'd separate out the sauce and let the fat rise to the top to be removed.)

Here's the bouquet garni: three sprigs parsley, three thyme branches from out back, and two bay leaves (picked ones with long, curled stems):

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The boquet garni goes atop the shanks, which fit snugly into my oval dutch oven:

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After scraping up everything in the pan with 1 c stock and 1 c wine, I reheated the mirepoix with 1 1/2 c chopped tomatoes with some of their liquid:

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I've become convinced that covering the food with two layers is the best way to go with most braises. First, the cartouche, created by placing the top of the dutch oven over a sheet of parchment and cutting out the shape with a paring knife, which prevents liquids from bubbling up and being vaporized on the lid:

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You then fold it up roughly, cut a hole in the middle, and crumple it before unfolding it.

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The second layer just secures the seal tightly with some aluminum foil:

gallery_19804_437_140523.jpg

It's now in a 275F oven for probably 3-4 hours. More soon!

ET clarify in the first paragraph -- ca


Edited by chrisamirault (log)

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Damn, Chris.. You just made me hungry. And I just finished a big bowl of chili!

I like how you made one serving, too. I always make several, even when it's just me. And I do it in all my big 7 1/4 qt. Le Crueset. What's the deal with the paper on top?

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Actually, it was two servings. Even I can't eat two shanks in one sitting!

The paper on top is a cartouche, which is a little disposable tool meant to prevent the liquids from bubbling up and being vaporized on the lid. It helps to reduce evaporation and thus to keep flavors in the sauce you're building in the pot.

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So I guess the hole in the cartouche is for the string that ties the bouquet garni together? Why crumple the paper first?

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wouldn't some evaporation lead to a reduction of the liquid, increasing it's flavor?

Anyway.. I probably would had had both veal shanks. :unsure::cool:

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So I guess the hole in the cartouche is for the string that ties the bouquet garni together?

Yes, and to let some steam escape, preventing the parchment from being puffed up. That hole is absurdly big, I'll add.

Why crumple the paper first?

Not sure. Wolfert says to do it in the SWF book, and I've just always done it. I think it enables irregularly cut parchment to fit neatly into the dutch oven and allows little areas to accommodate the bubbling. Good question.....

wouldn't some evaporation lead to a reduction of the liquid, increasing it's flavor?

In this method, you can have two stages, one in which the very flavorful braising liquid is kept to a minimum (the cartouche, the seal, etc.) intensifying its flavor by limited volume of liquid, and the other in which you reduce that liquid post-braise. Any liquid that evaporates on the uncovered lid leaves flavor residue on it -- it's that fond-y brown stuff -- and I'd rather that in the sauce than washed off the lid.

eta the part about the cartouche hole -- ca


Edited by chrisamirault (log)

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Chris, your shanks look divine. Veal is very hard to come by in my area, maybe the odd cutlet, there's just no market. Oxtail or lamb shanks are popular enough for the grocery stores to carry, but for bona fide ossobuco one needs to know the butcher.

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Sounds like a relationship to develop, eh?

That much-discussed marrow is one of the most fantastic things about this dish, btw. Why someone would eat an animal's flesh but not that luscious marrow is beyong my ken. Yum.

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Not sure. Wolfert says to do it in the SWF book, and I've just always done it. I think it enables irregularly cut parchment to fit neatly into the dutch oven and allows little areas to accommodate the bubbling. Good question.....

And you answered it!

That's the reason I use moistened and crumbled parchment paper---it fits over the food with some wiggle room for a gentle circulation and slow evaporation of moisture, ensuring the proper butter-soft consistency one wants when cooking such foods as stuffed grape leaves, chunks of tough meat, or vegetabes such as artichokes.

I used to fold and cut cartouches, but when Turkish cooks taught me that a moistened and crumbled piece of parchment paper does the same thing in half the prep time, I jumped for the change.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

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. . . .I used to fold and cut cartouches, but  when Turkish cooks taught me that a moistened and crumbled piece of parchment paper does the same thing in half the prep time, I jumped for the change.

Is paper better than foil?

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Actually, everything conducts heat. Some things just do it better than others.

I'm not sure I follow the logic of including parchment paper if the braise is condicted in an appropriately sized vessel with a heavy and well-fitting lid. Using something like a Staub shouldn't result in much evaporation anyway.

Perhaps someone can explain this a bit better.

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Actually, everything conducts heat.  Some things just do it better than others.

Of course -- fingers faster than my brain.

I'm not sure I follow the logic of including parchment paper if the braise is condicted in an appropriately sized vessel with a heavy and well-fitting lid.  Using something like a Staub shouldn't result in much evaporation anyway.

Perhaps someone can explain this a bit better.

Not sure I can. I think that the technique may have less effect in a well-sealing Staub at low heat, but at higher temps and in my less-well-sealing Le Creuset dutch oven, wouldn't having something immediately above the food prevent spatter from burning off on the underside of the lid? Before I used this technique, I would often find fond up there....

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My going-in hypothesis is that the parchment is mostly useful because it reduces the effective "air space" in the braising vessel, which may have some effect. If one were to use a braising vessel with shorter sides, this perhaps wouldn't be an issue.

I'm not sure I can buy the "burning off on the lid" theory. Presumably, if the heavy iron lid is above the boiling point of water, then vapors from the braising liquid would not condense there. If vapors from the braising liquid are able to condense there, then it seems likely that the inner surface of the lid is lower than 100C.

This does obscure one important fact about enameled cast iron cocottes such as Le Creuset, which is that they're not particularly optimized for use in the oven. Rather, they're designed to be used on the stovetop, and I would actually argue in favor of stovetop braising (I would recommend the addition of an aluminum disk even when using enameled cast iron). On the stove top, the heavy lid stays relatively cool and recondenses cooking vapors back into the braise (Staub even has little nodules on the underside of the lid to facilitate this).

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As I got the ossobuco in the oven, I realized that there were lots of potentially interesting braising tricks built into my approach for folks who might find this recipe a bit intimidating, particularly given the price of these damned shanks. (Nearly all have been stolen from others, mind you, often from around here. wink.gif) As a result I took a lot of photos of the mise prep, stovetop cooking, and so on.

Chris,

does your recipe call for tomato paste at all ( added after mirepoix is browned)? Also, what kind of stock did you use?

My personal favorite ossobuco recipe comes from "Babbo" Cookbook by Batali - they braise a whole shank, BTW, and serve it with gremolata.

Generally, I use house veal stock/white wine/simple house tomato sauce to braise shanks - it seems to be a sure crowd-pleaser, despite the cost of "prima materia".

Ah-hhhhhh, if only pictures could describe the smell and the taste...

gallery_57905_5669_9835.jpg


Edited by MikeTMD (log)

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I didn't use tomato paste in the mix-n-match recipe I used, culled from several sources.

Thanks for that photo, btw, which illustrates one of the points I've been trying to make about the cartouche. When I use one, I don't have that collar of fond (and lost flavor) around the edge.

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I took a stab at this last weekend.

Used Marcella Hazan's recipe from her Classic Italian Cookbook. Don't know if it's in the reprint that combines her first two books.

Here they are (clumsily) tied off and ready to go, with the soffrito (mire poix or aromatics) in the background.

gallery_19696_582_22990.jpg

Those two cost me $24 at Whole Foods. No wonder it's been a few years since I made them last. :hmmm:

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The stovetop ready to go. Curiously, Hazan's recipe calls for browning off the floured shanks in a skillet, then transferring them to a casserole or other cooking vessel for the braise. Not sure why that is; maybe it was an allowance for the cookware at the time? At any rate, I followed her instructions. Wilt the soffrito in the casserole with butter in the back left part of the pic. The pot just above the skillet with the shanks has some homemade broth defrosting/simmering.

gallery_19696_582_102310.jpg

After you've seared off the shanks you drain off the fat and then deglaze with white wine, getting up all the bits and whatnot. I decided I don't like this sear and transfer method; you still lose some of the fond in the searing pan no matter how aggressive you are in scraping as it deglazes.

At any rate, here they are about to pop into the oven (240 F), with the reduced wine, broth, a couple cubes of frozen tomato sauce, a bunde of herbs (thyme, bay leaf, rosemary) and a lemon peel.

Risotto Milanes is THE accompaniment to osso bucco in my mind and as I mentioned earlier, one of the few cases in traditional Itlian cooking where something typically looked at as a primo is served with the main (secondo). I must admit however that more often than not I do serve risotti with my main.

So here it is at the end of the first couple stages, where you wilt aromatics (onion ad pancetta), then add the raw short-grained rice and toast it, then add your first ladleful of broth, some white wine, and saffron to give it that characteristic color and flavor.

gallery_19696_582_85076.jpg

While everything's cooking, a little cocktail.

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The northern regions of Piemonte and Lombardia (where Milan is) both are home to several reputable vermouth makers, so this was a whipped up mix of equal measures of vodka and three kinds of vermouth (French Dry, Italian White, and Italian Red), plus a dash of bitters and a slice of lemon.

The risotto alla milanese, shortly before the mantecare step (when you add in butter and cheese, then stir vigorously before serving). That darker bit in the risotto, just above the spoon, is some marrow from the osso bucco. :smile:

gallery_19696_582_80130.jpg

Plated and ready to go, with oven-roasted asparagus on the side. The green scattered over the meat is gremolata (Marcella calls it "gremolada", and also curiously admits that she doesn't much care for it), a raw mixture of parsley, celery, garlic, and lemon zest, which really elevates the dish onto another plane. I need to remember using this technique more on braises, particularly in late winter/early spring when braising's getting old and the pallate could use a jolt.

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The World's Toughest Critic tried her first risotto milanese:

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"Perfetto!"

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Like the Amirault household, no leftovers from this meal.

gallery_19696_582_63921.jpg


Edited by Kevin72 (log)

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Kevin, did you see any advantage to dredging the shanks with flour? I left that out intentionally; it seems like with such a long braise of shanks you'll thicken up the sauce without it, and it's unneeded for browning.

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Not really, to be honest. Again maybe there would be an ever so slight difference if you seared them off in the same pan you cooked them in but as it is, most got left behind. I think that's a fair observation.

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Great step-by-step pictures, chrisamirault!!

We ate osso buco at friends' house just a fortnight ago, but it's been a while since I made it myself. The recipe was this one, which itself was a combination of various sources. Rather tempted to make it again now :)

gallery_43137_2974_606.jpg

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