Every Thursday on my way home from teaching at the orphanage I walk passed a butcher shop and glance at the tons of cow meat displayed in front of me. I am not a big beef connoisseur; do not really know the difference between most cuts, never really grew up eating much beef. I did notice, however, that the name for beef shanks in Brazil is osso buco, which in a way doesn’t surprise me since Italian influence is so strong here. So there I was, face to face with the butcher asking me how many kilos I wanted. One will do, I replied.
I do not claim to be a big beef eater (although I do enjoy the occasional steak and picanha na chapa) but how can you refuse 2.2 pounds of beef shanks for not even USD $4! That is how I came to the decision to make osso buco (beef, not veal), my very first time!
Ingredients for Osso Buco:
- 2 lbs beef shanks
- 3 tbsps flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsps butter
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup red wine
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 2 tsbps tomato paste
- 1 sprig rosemary*
- 4 sprigs thyme*
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups beef broth
- parsley, for garnishing
*: Replaced these with herbes de provence because that is all I had.
Directions for Osso Buco:
1. In a large skillet add 2 tbsps olive oil over medium high heat. Season shanks with salt and pepper on both sides, dip in flour and then shake off excess. Transfer shanks to the skillet and cook until well-browned on all sides (6-8 minutes). When browning is done, remove the shanks to a bowl to be added back in later.
2. In a Dutch oven (I used a large pot because that is all I had) add 2 tbsps olive oil and butter over low heat.
3. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Stir well to coat, then cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. This will allow the vegetables to release their juices.
4. Add the wine and the balsamic vinegar. Stir in well, cover again, and let simmer on low for about 6-8 minutes.
5. Add the bay leaves, herbes de provence, cherry tomatoes and tomato paste to the simmering vegetables. Increase heat to high and add the shanks and beef stock (chicken stock can be used as well). Stir well to mix with vegetables.
6. When broth is boiling, reduce heat to low again and cover. Cook for about 1-1 ½ hours**. The meat should be very tasty and tender.
**: Mine cooked for 2 1/2 hours because I did not have a Dutch oven.
Ingredients for Ricotta Mashed Potatoes:
- 5 medium potatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tbsps butter
- 1/2 cup ricotta
Directions for Ricotta Mashed Potatoes:
1. Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Place potatoes and salt in boiling water and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Drain and mash potatoes.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, butter and ricotta. Microwave for 1 minute until melted. Add extra salt and black pepper. Stir well.
4. Add to potatoes and continue stirring until well combined.
Serve osso buco (hot!) on a mound of mashed potatoes and enjoy!