Beef (?) Osso Bucco

The question mark in the title is not a mistake.  I decided to continue trying to cook from a list of recipes I received from a great braising class I took a while back at the Brooklyn Kitchen. This recipe was Pork Osso Bucco.  The pros are that braising is quite simple!  Another pro of this recipe is that once you get the meat and a few other key ingredients then you are pretty much done. There is not a list of obscure things to buy that you will never use again.  Beef stock, onions, carrots, a little thyme.  All of these ingredients are items I have and if I don’t have them, it’s because I just finished using them up in another dish.  As my sisters will attest to after just seeing my apt, my kitchen is at full capacity with just a few ingredients in the cabinets. We have limited space and with a baby coming any day there is even less space!

This entry is a little abnormal because it’s more of a warning of what NOT to do.  The recipe, as I have stated earlier is simple along with the ingredients– when you can find them.  My husband and I started our journey on a cold Saturday morning in Park Slope at a nicer grocery store that we thought would serve all our needs.  It didn’t.

The first grocery store didn’t carry the meat we wanted so it was off to the next. We thought we would just walk further down into the neighborhood to our favorite butcher shop thinking “They have to have pork shanks!”


Very frustrated, carrying all other ingredients for the meal and a 40 minute walk from home, we try one more spot— Fleishers!  This is a trendy, modern butcher shop that carries grass fed and organic meats.  There are two locations. One is in Brooklyn and one is Kingston, NY. Now, I’d love to say that they carry pork shank, but they don’t.  Turns out no one really carries this meat on a daily basis. You have to special order it.  I was clearly not that prepeared and frankly, I’ll never be.  So we decided to go with beef shanks.

I truly thought that this replacement of meat would make no difference (and the butcher agreed)!  I also want to add that I’m not sure what exactly went wrong, but something wasn’t right. There is really nothing more annoying than traipsing all over Brooklyn on a windy, cold February day only to come home and cook an expensive meal that doesn’t seem to pan out.

There are many plausible mistakes I could have made.

1. Seasoning the meat with salt and pepper is a simple process, but I think I may not have rubbed in enough.

2. You are supposed to season not only at the beginning of the cooking, but throughout.  I forgot to season 1 or 2 times throughout.

3. The recipe called for a complete reduction of wine. I still don’t really know what having all the wine reduced really looks, smells or tastes like. So maybe I did it correctly? Maybe

So, all in all, a lot of potential blunders.  It’s hard to say if I did any of them right or wrong.  I personally think the whole thing went awry with the beef.  Braising-or so I’ve heard-is all about the ingredients and the oven. If you have the right ingredients and you season and cook them long enough then for the most part everything is fine. Now, we ate the beef and it was tasty enough for a Sunday dinner, but disappointing.  It was very fatty tasting and because of  the way the beef fell off the bone it was hard to find good chunky pieces. What was left after four and a half hours in the oven were tiny pieces that I know would have been more tender and juicy had it been pork. There was also this absence of something.  I think it was the salt.  It was there, but I should have been way more aggressive with my sea salt application.

So, lesson to take from all of this? Get the right meat and then season those suckers! When you think you have enough salt, then maybe add just a little more and then maybe a little more after that.

Now Matt Greene over at the Brooklyn Kitchen had a wonderful recipe so as I always say if you want to take a class there, I highly recommend it.  If you are intrigued and inspired to make your own Pork Osso Bucco (not beef!) then the Food Network Pork Osso Bucco  recipe is very similar and it’s less cook time!


4 thoughts on “Beef (?) Osso Bucco

  1. The picture looks good…. Is it possible that maybe you did nothing wrong and just don’t care for that cut especially. I love a good beef steak… Flanken cut ribs are okay, but as for the shank, and the thick short-ribs… meh!

  2. I don’t mean to be critical … Ok, I am .. Here goes, for what my 2 cents are worth in this economy.

    I recognize your meat as shank rounds. WAY too thin for 4.5 hrs! If you’re gonna do that long of a cooking time, try 2 (yes, TWO) inches of meat. And fatty? Weelll .. I have a feeling that it was a LOT of connective tissue vs. meat that gave that fatty feeling. Unless I’m totally wrong and if you went to save some, there was a thick layer of fat on top. I’ve been known to be wrong .. occasionally .. And you’re right, if you don’t season throughout it can turn out a bit bland. As for the complete wine reduction, think room-temp maple syrup and I think you get the idea of how syrupy it should be.

    Now, should you not find thick, THICK, beef shanks the next time, and they’re closer to half a inch, only cook 1, maybe 1.5 hrs. Oh, and substitute half the beef stock with chicken stock. The beef stock on it’s own with beef is kinda tangy but bland, if that makes sense. The sweetness of the chicken stock cuts the sourness and adds beefiness to the taste you won’t get otherwise.

    Suggestion if you don’t want to use the wine reduction: if you can find it, a tablespoon of Italian tomato paste is the BOMB in this stew or braise. And adding 3 or 4 anchovies (not necessarily the gourmet ones) takes it one step closer to heavenly ..

    One more thing, did you add the dry herbs to the pot before adding the garlic? A lot of times ppl add the onions, carrots, celery, herbs and garlic almost simultaneously. It means the dry herbs don’t get to release their oils before you have to add the wet stuff to stop the garlic from burning. Doing the mirepoix, THEN the herbs and, lastly, the garlic, allowing each part to release it’s flavors is well worth the time it takes.

    Disregard if you find your pork shanks!

    Don’t know if it helps but in my family, when I make this, someone (ahem, Papito) finds himself afterwards with chunk of bread in hand cleaning up the pot afterwards. Which is why I never put the pot to soak right away. And he claims to hate garlic, onions and pepper .. Go figure.

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