Fine Cooking's Slow-Cooker Osso Buco

So, while visiting family back in Pittsburgh, I decided to do some fine cooking with my mom.

Fine Cooking's version:

our version:
(We started eating before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry.)

So I've been sort of hard on my mom in this blog. I mean, if you didn't know her you would probably peg her as someone not the least bit interested in her daughter's food-related adventures despite that daughter's various pleadings to please please check out her blog.

When really, my mom is quite wonderful—just a severe techno-phobe whose first and fairly new computer crashed about six months ago and who has happily done nothing to replace or repair it. In high school, I remember begging for call-waiting and Mom not understanding its advantages; and then, having finally talked my more gadget-friendly step-dad into getting it, her hanging up on everyone as she switched over to the other line. (She still does, only now she gives you a heads up: "Hold on, I'm probably going to lose you.")

Ironically, when it comes to cooking, my mom has every gadget, baking dish, and pan known to man, right down to a tiny blow torch for creme brulee-ing. And while I was home, I wanted to take full advantage. Up first: the slow cooker.
Mom had been talking about this osso buco recipe she'd just read about in Fine Cooking (a magazine I had unfortunately overlooked until now and will definitely be turning to for future attempts) that called for a slow cooker and, as I soon learned by the nature of it being an osso buco recipe, veal shanks. I had experience with neither. I told Mom I was game provided that we would brave the snowy crosstown journey to the organic market to get local and organic veal.

The beauty of the slow cooker is that you can set it and forget it. Our veal shanks needed six to eight hours in there. Mom and I needed to play an intense game of tennis, do some light shopping, and see It's Complicated with Grandma. So, in the morning, we prepped the vegetables, seared the shanks, and made the gremolata (a mix of chopped garlic, parsley, and lemon zest).
When I discovered Mom's massive 48 oz. tub of ready to use garlic and began taking pictures, my mom frowned. "Are you going to make fun of me on the Internet?"
This recipe reminded me a lot of the Sunday Suppers' short ribs only it was soooooo much easier, though it may have just felt that way considering Mom did just about all of the dishes. Thanks, Mom! The seared meat goes into the slow cooker along with its juices, the vegetables, some white wine, and a can of diced tomatoes

After our day of tri-generational merriment, we came home to a house filled with the rich and earthy aroma of braised meat and vegetables, again very much reminiscent of the short ribs. And although we'd wrapped each shank in twine, just like the short ribs, all four had fallen completely off the bone. The meat was super tender, but—and maybe this is just because of my inexperience with meat in general or coming off the twice aforementioned short ribs—I was expecting something deeper in flavor. The short ribs were so much more intense, so much bolder, but then a lot more did go into their preparation...though still I wonder if there is something else I could have added to the pot to make it better or if it might have been improved by using red wine instead of the white or is that not what you do with osso buco?

Wow, I'm realizing it's a tough act to follow Suzanne Goin's famed short ribs, isn't it? Kind of like comparing the twins played by Danny Devito and Arnold in the fun-loving classic 80s movie of the same name.
That's definitely a little harsh, especially considering the dish was a success—and thank goodness because dessert was a classic fail. (You'll see what I'm talking about next post.)

We served each piece alongside garlic bread to sop up the extra sauce, but I think if I did it again, I would pair it with polenta or even a cheesy risotto.

RECIPE via Fine Cooking:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Four 1-1/2- to 2-inch-thick veal shanks (about 2-1/2 lb.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
One 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth
1 small red onion, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (1/2 cup)
1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
1 large clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)

Put the flour in a wide, shallow dish. Season the veal shanks all over with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour; shake off the excess flour.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the shanks to the skillet. Cook until golden, turning once, about 10 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a slow cooker.

Add the wine to the skillet. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and pour the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and their juices, chicken broth, onion, carrot, celery, and thyme. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours—the meat will be very tender and almost falling off the bone.

Transfer the shanks to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a large skillet. Simmer over medium heat until reduced to about 2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic to make a gremolata. Serve the veal shanks topped with the sauce and the gremolata.
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Mary Anne said...

you've turned into such a freaking gourmand.

the twins pic slayed me.

what's with moms and mini blow torches for creme bruleeing? that must have been a must-have mom gadget in the 90s.

Matt said...

Wish I could have tried this with you guys! Let's rent Twins asap.

George Gaston said...

Looks like you have master the art of cooking and then some. Your Osso Buco looks absolutely incredible.

Next time I fix Osso Buco, I am definitely going to follow your lead and use this recipe. Many thanks...

Heather Taylor said...

wowza wowza wowza - we have a slow cooker and will be trying this soon. right after choc croissants a la Steve and Meryl, right? My mom loves Fine Cooking too and I steal all of her issues once she's done with them. It's such a good mag! xo

Jessica said...

42 ounces of ready to use garlic is INSANE. I love this dish, but agree with you that it doesn't touch the short ribs.
- Jess

Mark and Marsha said...

Your Osso Buco looked great and it would be just the perfect comfort meal on a cold winter's night in Pittsburgh.

Danny D. said...

I think the osso buco looked better.

Arnold S. said...

I think the short ribs looked better.

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

this sounds delish. and your mom sounds a lot like mine...down to the gargantuan tub of garlic in the fridge.

Anonymous said...

what is the 1/4 inch- thick rounds (1/2 cup)

amelia said...

whoops! that was part of the carrot instructions... I fixed it so now it reads correctly: "1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (1/2 cup)"

Marty said...

I'm in Alaska and I made this with moose shanks last night, to rave reviews. Thanks and I figured you'd appreciate how far and wide your recipe has travelled

NikD said...

found this page while researching this recipe for my upcoming recipe and I think I spotted why your flavor wasn't deep enough. I'm not sure if you just forgot to mention it in your description or not but it seems you left out the stock.

From the different recipes I've been reading all morning there seems to be a debate over whether beef or chicken stock is best and the general consensus tends to be beef for a richer flavor. Some comments I've seen also mentioned using a light-medium red wine like a Chianti instead of a white to deepen the flavor. 6-8 hours will also be way too long depending on the thickness of your cut and what your fat to meat ratio is. I'd suggest reducing your time to 4-6 hours but definitely ask your butcher when he gives you the shanks and he'll be able to tell you the perfect time.

Hope you post if you try this one again! :-)