While our winter days have been quite beautiful during the last few weeks, the nights have been downright chilly! The weather forecast for the week ahead promises us nothing warmer than 2°C at night, so please excuse me while I fetch my slippers and preheat the oven. I’ll happily take refuge in the kitchen. This kind of weather makes me crave warm filling stews, homemade apple pies and cup after cup of hot tea.
Comfort food is a lovely concept, like an edible security blanket. It’s the kind of food that wraps you up, warming your body and soul. While everyone’s idea of comfort food differs, most of us have a dish or two that tickles the senses to bring back memories and make us feel happy and safe. I didn’t grow up eating Osso Bucco, in fact this is the very first time I’ve prepared it. But the feeling I got from eating it was the very same as I get from my other childhood favourites like Nanna’s pork and spinach pie or Dad’s spaghetti bolognaise. It was intensely satisfying on many levels.
In Italian, Osso Bucco translates to bone with a hole, referring to the bone marrow in the slices of veal shin. From what I read, I don’t think this version is entirely traditional, but it is definitely delicious! Braising the meat with wine, stock and tomatoes for two hours ensures tenderness – it falls right off the bone. It can also be served with a saffron spiked Risotto alla Milanese, which I would love to try next time I make it. As with most stews, the flavour improves with time, so try and save some leftovers for lunch the next day. It can also be frozen as Donna Hay suggests, and added to tomato soup or as a pie filling.
Recipe adapted from Donna Hay Magazine (Issue 40)
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2 brown onions, sliced thickly
• 4 cloves garlic (or 3 large)
• 6 x 200g osso bucco (veal shin)
• ¾ cup dry red wine
• 1 cup beef stock
• 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
• 1 cup water
• 4 bay leaves
• 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
• Sea salt and black pepper
• 1 x 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large metal baking dish over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the pan.
2. Add the remaining oil and increase the heat. Cook veal for 3-4 minutes each side until well browned. Watch out because it may stick.
3. Add the onion and garlic back to the pan and gradually add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes or until reduced by half.
4. Add stock, tomatoes, water, bay leaves, rosemary, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
5. Carefully remove from the oven, add the beans and stir. Place back in the oven for 15-30 minutes, or until veal is tender. Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta or risotto if desired.