Making ossobuco is an extremely satisfying way to spend an afternoon. I find it very comforting to know that while I’m pottering round the house there is a stock pot simmering away in the corner, slowly extracting all the goodness from meat bones. Softening onion, garlic and celery into a caramelized soffritto further increases my level of wellbeing, as does the subsequent gentle bubble of a meat sauce.

Soffritto - vegetable alchemy

Soffritto – vegetable alchemy


For these reasons, ossobuco is a very rewarding dish to make.  However, the last time I made it, I put the stockpot on a gas stove and went for a walk for two hours with my brother and throughout the walk, I either worried that I was going to burn down my friend’s house or (almost as concerning) ruin the stock. Fortunately, when we got back, we were greeted by a rich and meaty nectar. Encouraged by this success, I put the ossobuco on the stove and we headed out to the pub for two hours. All ended well but I wouldn’t recommend leaving gas unattended as fear of blowing up houses reduces the tranquility.


Be sure to make more than you need for dinner and use the rest for ravioli.



1 large onion

1 stick celery

1 large carrot

2 cloves garlic

4 large veal shanks 3-4 cms thick (hind legs, of course)

Plate of sieved white flour

Large glass of dry white wine

Beef/veal stock

1 tin tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

2 bay leaves

2 strips of lemon peel



1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped parsely


1. Stock

Simmer beef and/or veal bones with 1 onion, 1 carrot, and 1 stick celery (additional to listed above) for at least 3 hours. Cool and skim


2. Soffritto

Finely dice onion, carrot and celery and caramelize slowly in olive oil for 30-45 minutes.

Different sauces call for different levels of vegetable caramelization. For ossobuco, keep the heat down and stay on the lighter side. Once cooked, spoon into a dish wide enough  to accommodate all the veal shanks in a single layer.


3. Veal shanks

Veal shank - hind legs only

Veal shank – hind legs only


Flour the veal shanks and brown in a pan. Remove, and place on top of the soffritto.


Add wine and cook away the alcohol while scraping the pan. Pour the wine over the veal shanks, along with everything else, bring just to the boil then turn right down and simmer for around 3 hours, adding more stock or water if needed. Turn the veal from time to time, but keeping the veal disks together in one piece. After 2.5 hours or so, checking the tenderness with a fork – the meat should shred apart easily. Sprinkle the gremolata on top a minute before serving, then spoon meat and sauce onto mashed potato or, if feeling Milanese, Saffron risotto.



Saffron risotto - never stop stirring

Saffron risotto – never stop stirring





Ossobuco ravioli


If you are going to invest half a day to make ossobuco, then make more than you need and use the rest for ravioli.




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