"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Slow-Braised Veal Shank Osso Buco with Spinach Pasta

Osso Buco is one of my favorite dishes to make. Although, now every time I make it, I am a little anxious because a few years ago, I got burned really badly on my forehead and under my eye. While I was browning the meat, the hot oil splattered on my face and, well the rest . . . you can imagine! After multiple visits to a Dermatologist, and a few weeks of looking like Frankenstein, my face healed eventually. But, I don't let fear overcome me!

I particularly like to make Osso Buco in the winter when the weather is cold and everyone is either sick or trying not to get sick. It's a real comfort food. Plus, I love that you can let it simmer in a Dutch Oven for 3 to 4 hours while you relax, read a book, watch a movie with the kids, go the gym, whatever you want. After simmering for hours, your house smells heavenly, and you end up with a deliciously tender meat sauce. The best compliment I received tonight from my kids (other than the fact that they ate everything) was my 5-year-old son who said "Mom: The meat was soft and really yummy. Can I have it again with my special birthday pasta?" (He is referring to these fun pastas I get from Cost Plus that come in different themes - birthday, sea life, and seasonal like valentine or holiday.)

Osso Buco is fairly easy to make (although it requires some time). Here is my version of the recipe:

4 Veal Shanks (or beef shanks or lamb shanks)
1 large onion (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
2 celery stalks (diced)
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
One 28-ounce can of Crushed Tomatoes (Italian flavored or with basil)
1/2 cup of red wine
Beef broth (about 1 cup)
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2-3 sprigs of fresh parley
1 dried bay leaf (or 2 fresh ones)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper 
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 package of pasta (whatever pasta you like)
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Chopped parsley for garnish 

(Close-up of the marrows, which are my favorite parts.)
Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch Oven (or large heavy pot) over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil. Sear the meat on all sides until golden brown (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside. Drain the oil in a bowl or old can. 

Turn down the heat to medium. Add the olive oil. Add the carrots, onion, and celery. Cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the wine, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the whole can of tomatoes, and stir. 

Tie the fresh herbs together (use some kitchen string). Add the meat back to the pot. Add enough beef stock to almost cover the meat. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce the heat to really low. Simmer for about 3-4 hours (stirring a couple of time) until the meat is really tender - fallen off the bone marrows. Remove the herb packet and discard. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and stir in some Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley. Place the pasta on a large serving bowl. Add the meat sauce on top.  Garnish with some Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Tonight, I decided to try this spinach pasta that I found at Cost Plus. It was delicious! But, I like that it was light and does not stick together when you cook it.

The Wine?
Osso Buco calls for a delicious, medium to full-bodied wine. I think it goes best with a red wine like a Sangiovese, a Cabernet Sauvignon, or blend. But, feel free to experiment and enjoy it with whatever wine you prefer. Today, I picked up some new wines at Cost Plus - they are having a wine sale (extra 25% off) so I stocked up a little. When Cost Plus has big wine sales, I usually like to pick up a few bottles of new wines that I haven't had before to experiment. One of the bottles I picked up was a bottle of the 2009 Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, CA). [http://www.ninenorthwines.com/wine/2009-twenty-bench-cabernet-sauvignon-napa-valley.htm]
I opened it up about 1 hour before we were ready to drink it. We poured into a Decanter. It was delicious! It's actually a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. It's medium bodied. On the nose, you are welcomed with enticing aromas of vanilla and black cherry, with a hint of espresso. It has a beautiful red color in the glass. On the palate, your mouth is greeted with flavors of dark berries, raspberry, with a little bit of oak flavor. I recommend decanting it because it opens up very nicely after it has a chance to breathe. The tannins are softer, with a longer finish. I think I would definitely pick up another bottle of this wine . . . or two!

I hope you are having a healthy and enjoyable weekend with your family! For us, we're trying to fight off this terrible bug that's going around. . . . knock on wood!

Until next time . . . Salute!


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