The Real Ossobuco?

What do you imagine when someone says Ossobuco? Do you imagine slow cooked pieces of veal shin cooked in a tomato sauce served with a risotto alla Milanese? If you did, then your definitely not alone. That’s exactly how I imagined it too, until I read Anna Del Contes’ book, Amaretto, Apple Cake and Artichokes, The best of Anna Del Conte. She suggested that it was best cooked bianco (without the tomato), so that it would not over power the delicate flavours of the risotto alla Milanese.

I’m sure it’s one of those strongly debated food topics amongst Northern Italians. Village against village, family against family, who is right??? I’m not Italian so, for me, it’s not about the one that’s right but about the one that tastes the best. I have to say I agree with Anna, it works beautifully. Osscobuco should be made from the middle cut of veal shin where the bone is surrounded by meat. It is also one of the few exceptions where it is acceptable to serve risotto with the main course.

I followed the simple recipe from Annas’ book, which I adapted slightly. Don’t forget to scoop out the bone marrow either, it’s too good to leave on the plate!

Serves 4


4 ossobuchi (about 1kg)

2 tbsp olive oil

plain flour for dusting

sea salt and black pepper

45g butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

150ml dry white wine

300 ml stock (chicken or veal)


grated rind of one unwaxed lemon

1 small garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped

2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley


Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saute pan large enough to fit the ossobuchi in a single layer. Mix a teaspoon of salt in the flour and coat the ossobuchi in a thin layer of it. Add the ossobuchi to the pan and brown well on both sides. Remove and set aside.

Add the butter to the pan along with the onion, celery and a sprinkle of salt. When the vegetables are soft, add the wine and increase the heat, rubbing the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to shift any caramelised meat. Return the meat to the pan and add the stock. Turn over the veal and reduce the heat to very low. Cover and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and coming away from the bone.

If you have a pan what can go into the oven, alternatively you can put it into the oven, covered, at 150˚C for the same time.

To make the gremolata you simply mix the ingredients together and add a teaspoon to the top of the ossobuco when serving.

The risotto alla Milanese is also simple and you can make it while the ossobuco is cooking.


olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

150ml dry white wine

3 handfuls of arborio rice (or your choice of risotto rice)

1.5 litre chicken stock

a pinch of saffron stands

grated parmesan

30g butter


Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan and heat the stock in a separate saucepan. Add the onions and garlic to the olive oil and soften over medium heat. Add the rice and stir of coat the rice in the olive oil. Add the white wine and continue to stir. Add the saffron, which has been mixed with a little stock. Gradually add the warm stock a ladle at a time to the rice while stirring. When the outer husk of the rice is cooked but still has a little bite on the inside take the saucepan off the heat add the butter and parmesan, stir gently, then cover for 5 minutes.

Serve with the ossobuco and gremolata.