Osso Buco

osso buco

When I was a young girl living in Greenfield, Wisconsin, my mother used to make a beef dish that had a particular cut of meat with a bone.  The meat, when slowly roasted in the oven, would create a rich, savory and delicious bone marrow.  The only problem was that the marrow was very small – only a bite; definitely not enough to share amongst a family of six.

As a result, my mother would keep track of whose turn it was to have the marrow next time she made the dish, between me and my three older sisters. We were always elated when it was our turn, and admittedly, just a tad envious of the other sister, when it wasn’t.

Osso Buco is a Milanese dish meaning, “bone with a hole” or “hollowed bone,” and is another great recipe for the slow cooker.  I make a point of purchasing a minimum of three beef shanks with the bone, so all three of us have a chance to savor the flavor of the rich, deep bone marrow.  Be forewarned – the aroma coming from your kitchen as it cooks, will have you watching the clock, anticipating when it’s time for dinner!

And if you’ve never made “Gremolata” before, please don’t pass it by when making this dish.  The mixture of fresh parsley, chopped garlic and grated lemon peel adds a nice bright pop of flavor against the rich sauce.


4 lb. bone-in veal shanks
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tbs. grapeseed oil, plus more as needed
3 yellow onions, diced
8 garlic cloves, minced, divided in half
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup demi-glace
1 1/2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups beef stock
3 bay leaves
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Parmesan cheese rind
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh grated lemon peel
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


1) Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Dredge them in the flour, shaking off the excess.

2) In a deep pan over medium-high heat, warm the grapeseed oil. Working in batches, brown the shanks, 6 to 8 minutes per batch, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker.

3) Sauté the onions and carrots, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, until the onions are slightly translucent and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add 4 cloves of the chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the demi-glace and tomatoes, chicken and beef stocks, bay leaf and thyme sprigs, increase the heat and bring to a simmer.

4) Add sauce mixture to the slow cooker along with the Parmesan rind, covering the meat and simmer on low heat 6-8 hours until the meat is falling off the bones.  Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Season the dish with salt and pepper.

5) Prepare the Gremolata by combining 4 cloves of the chopped garlic, the chopped parsley and fresh lemon peel.

6) Transfer the Osso Buco to a service dish or spoon the entrée into bowls and serve, garnishing the dish with a generous amount of the Gremolata.

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