Everyone has a favorite dish from a certain cuisine that they will ALWAYS without fail order at any restaurant as soon as they see it listed on the menu. For me, its Osso Buco at Italian restaurants. This fatty piece of meat is incredibly tender when cooked well and is insanely delicious over anything - pasta, mashed potatoes, polenta - you name it.
My obsession started in high school when I went to Italy for the first time. After eating at least four Osso Buco dishes while there, I was determined to learn how to make it back home. This perfected recipe doesn't require wine (which most online recipes do) and is the closest I've gotten to the best Osso Buco dishes I had across Italy. It does require some patience but it is worth every minute.
The ingredients in this recipe are super simple, so it makes a big difference when you choose higher quality ingredients. Allow the beef shanks to sit at room temp at least 30 minutes before searing. You also want to choose a high quality tomato sauce for this - San Marzano is my go-to.
6 beef shanks
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 celery stalks, diced
3 large carrots, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1.5 cups plain tomato sauce
4 large bay leaves
6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
1.5 tablespoon chicken bouillon paste
1 carton chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley for garnish
Pat dry the beef shanks with some paper towels and season very generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Freshly ground is best.
Heat a deep dutch oven or braiser over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil or grape-seed oil. Sear the shanks on all sides, (including the outer rim) then set aside while you saute the veggies.
In the same pot, add butter and begin scraping the meat fond from the bottom of the pot - do not rinse out the pot - you need that flavor!! Then add your chopped onions, celery, carrots and garlic all at once. Saute on medium high and toss regularly until vegetables are nicely browned. Make sure to continue scraping the meat bits off the bottom of your pot.
Add bay leaves, fresh thyme, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and chicken bouillon paste. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
Once the tomato base is simmering, nestle in the browned shanks evenly (make sure to pour in any juices left over in the plate) then add chicken broth so that the shanks are covered by half an inch. Mix the broth in slightly with the tomato sauce base so that it is well incorporated.
Cover with a heavy lid and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Braise for 3.5 - 4 hours on the stove top. You will need to check on it every 30 minutes to flip the meat, rub the bottom of the pot to ensure nothing is sticking, and add some chicken broth (½ cup at a time) to keep the sauce at least ¾ way up the shanks.
The shanks are ready when they are fork tender and the sauce is thick. Do not rush this process.
Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Garnish with parsley and serve with mashed potatoes, potato gratin, or pasta.