Thursday, April 06, 2006

Osso Buco al Pomodoro

I'm revisiting another dish from my childhood. Those days, osso buco could only be found at the "continental" butchers along with other cuts unknown to the Australian market. Those days are now, thankfully, long gone.

There seems to be a bit of confusion on the name of this dish - Osso Buco alla Milanese is the recipe that seems to be bandied about but it's being made incorrectly. Traditionally that dish is made without the use of tomatoes. Osso Buco al Pomodoro, as you might be able to work out from the name, is made with tomatoes and is the dish that people are incorrectly referring to as "Milanese".

What I'm going to do is go through the simple steps you need to take to make the prefect Osso Buco.

First off you start off with the osso buco itself -

I'm using beef osso buco, you can use veal but I find it's not quite as flavoursome as beef. You'll also have to make some adjustment to the cooking length as it's a more delicate meat.

One osso buco per person should be enough but it depends on their size and the size of peoples appetites. For two people I cook 4 - and with the leftovers, I'll pull the meat from the bone, roughly breaking it into chunks, then reheat as a quick pasta sauce.

The next thing you need to do is to remove the skin that coils around each piece of osso buco. If you don't remove this skin then the meat will curl and cook unevenly. The end result will not taste or look as good as it should.


You should be able to see in the above photo that the meat is now trimmed and ready to be dusted with some flour. This helps crisp up the flesh but keep the juices inside. Salt and pepper the meat just before cooking.


In a deep heavy based pan, add a little oil and a knob of butter and when heated, add the pieces of osso buco. Don't crowd the pan - cook two at a time so you don't cause the pan to lose heat. When browned on one side, turn around and brown on the other.

While these are cooking prepare your vegetables. You'll need, one carrot, one onion and one stalk of celery and dice these finely - you want to have some texture but you don't big chucks of vegetable. Don't forget to use the celery leaves as well - shred these.

Once all the meat is cook put it aside and get ready to cook the prepared vegetables


The photo above shows the nice brown colour that you want on the meat.

In the same pan where you cooked the meat add a little more oil and then add your vegetables. On a medium heat cook these down slightly. Season with a little salt and pepper. You want to let them brown a little and soften and take in all those meat flavours that are in the pan.

Now return the meat to the pan, interspersing the vegetables around the meat, turn the heat up and then add a small glass of white wine or vermouth. Don't use red wine. Let this bubble away for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol.

Once this is done, add a can of crushed Italian tomatoes and then half fill the can with water and add that to the pan as well. You could add an equivalent measure of Tomato Passata or really ripe fresh Italian tomatoes.

Stir making sure the meat is covered, pop the lid on your pan and simmer for at least an hour and a half. You can cook this equally well, in the oven, about 160°C/320°F for the same time period. You are wanting the meat to soften and the sauce to thicken and deepen in colour. If it seems too liquidy, take the lid off to allow evaporation.

Also, you can stir through, just before serving a little mix of finely shredded parsley and a little lemon zest. You want these to be mixed through the sauce (the heat releases the flavours of the parsley and the volatile oils in the zest) rather than just be sprinkled over the top of the plated dish.


Accompaniments range from the traditional risotto Milanese or if you are in Torino, risotto bianco or polenta or some creamy mashed potatoes. Oh, and if you are feeling very Italian, don't forget to eat that soften marrow! Buon Appetito!

Updated: I've just realised VRC: Most Requested Recipe is coming up on Sunday and this suits the theme to a T. It's certainly a recipe that's been passed along for years and always met with the sounds of satisfied mastication.


  1. Yum, looks great & lots of good tips in there. Have cooked lots of variation son lamb shanks but never tried Osso Bucco, its on the list for this winter

  2. yet another recipe for me to try, Haalo!

    I have tagged you with a Meme, so if you have time and would like to join check out What's For Lunch Honey?

  3. HI Ange - Thanks for the comments. I've done the opposite - I've never cooked lamb shanks! Hope Sam Kekovich doesn't find out but I don't eat lamb.

    Hi Meeta - It's my first meme - thanks so much! I'm looking forward to see how this dish turns out for you.

  4. Thanks for an informative post, Haalo. I did use tomatoes in my osso buco in may, but I called it simply osso buco :)

  5. Thanks Pille - I'm sure whatever you call it, it was delicious!


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