OSSOBUCO ALLA MILANESE (veal shanks braised with tomatoes, for six)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2/3 cup finely chopped carrot
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 strips lemon peel
½ cup vegetable oil
2 shanks of veal, sawed into 8 pieces about 2 inches long, each securely tied around the middle
¾ cup all purpose flour, spread on a plate or waxed paper
1 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups beef stock or canned beef broth (approximately)
1-1/2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
4 leaves fresh basil
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 sprigs parsley
freshly ground black pepper, about 6 twists of the mill
salt if necessary
1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
2. Choose a heavy casserole with a tight fitting lid that is just large enough to contain the veal pieces later in a single layer. (If you do not have a casserole large enough for all the veal, use two small ones, dividing the chopped vegetables and butter in two equal parts, but adding 1 extra tablespoon butter per casserole). Put in the onion, carrot, celery and butter and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables soften and wilt. Add the chopped garlic and lemon peel at the end. Remove from the heat.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Turn the trussed pieces of veal in the flour, shaking off any excess. When the oil is quite hot (test it with the corner of one of the pieces of veal – a moderate sizzle means the oil is just right), brown the veal on all sides. (Brown the veal as soon as it has been dipped in the flour, otherwise the flour will dampen and the meat won’t brown properly). Stand the pieces of veal side by side on top of the vegetables in the casserole.
4. Tip the skillet and draw off nearly all the accumulated fat with a spoon. Add the wine and boil briskly for about 3 minutes, scraping up and loosening any brown residue stuck to the pan. Pour the wine over the pieces of veal in the casserole.
5. In the same skillet, bring the broth to a simmer and pour into the casserole. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice, the thyme, basil, bay leaves, parsley, pepper and salt. (Hold off on salt until after cooking if you are using canned beef broth, since it is sometimes very salty). The broth should come up to the top of the veal pieces. If it does not, add more.
6. Bring the contents of the casserole to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover tightly and place in the lower third of the preheated oven. Cook for about 2 hours, carefully turning and basting the veal pieces every 20 minutes. When done, they should be very tender when pierced with a fork, and their sauce should be dense and creamy. (If, while the veal is still cooking, there is not enough liquid in the casserole, you may add up to 1/3 cup of warm water. If the reverse is true, and the sauce is to thin when the veal is done, remove the meat to a platter, place the uncovered casserole over high heat and briskly boil the sauce until it thickens. Pour the sauce over the veal and serve piping hot. When transferring veal shanks to the platter, carefully remove the trussing strings without breaking up the veal).
NOTE: A gremolada of 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, ¼ teaspoon very finely chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon minced parsley can be sprinkled on the veal shanks just as they finish cooking, if desired. Veal dries out when reheated, so that ossobuco should not be made in advance and reheated.
from Marcella Hazan, The Classic Italian Cookbook