Crock-Pot Osso Buco Recipe
Friday, 18 February 2011
I am in love with my new favorite food – osso buco, a beef shank braised in the crock pot. It is the most tender and flavorful cut of beef. (As you can see in the photo above, it was so tender the meat fell right off the bone.) It’s so simple and inexpensive to make yet it’s as good as a gourmet-restaurant meal. I had never made osso buco before this year, but my recent quest for grass-fed beef led me to try something new. I have already made it 3 times since January (and have also successfuly prepared lamb shanks the same way). Served with its own bone broth and marrow, it’s a healthy immune-booster and will warm you to the bone on these remaining cold damp days of winter. (My husband and I have not been sick at all this winter and I give the credit to all the wonderful stews and bone broths we’ve eaten this year!)
Osso buco, in Italian, means “bone with a hole.” Usually it is a veal shank, which is young beef. My local market sells grass-fed beef shanks, and they are relatively inexpensive – only $5 a pound, which is pretty reasonable for grass-fed beef. My husband and I usually share one that’s about 1 and a half pounds. (He lets me eat the bone marrow!) Normally it is not the most tender cut of beef, but the secret is in the braising. You can braise, or slow-cook, on the stove top or in the oven. But I find that an easier and even more successful way of braising is simply to slow-cook it in the crock pot with red wine and meat stock. For this recipe I used beef stock, but I have also used chicken stock. You can usually find beef stock in the meat department and most fine grocers. Or you can make your own by slow-cooking any bone-in cut of beef with a little wine and some vegetables. (Once I didn’t have any stock and I made this recipe using water instead, and then I saved and froze the liquid afterward and I had the perfect stock for the next time.) The red wine provides acidity needed to tenderize the meat and release the nutrients from the bone.
1 large or 2 small beef shanks (1-1/2 to 2 lbs.)
1 quart beef stock
1 cup red wine
1 tsp sea salt
1 large sweet potato
2 slices red onion
3-4 garlic cloves, cut into small chunks
Optional braising greens
Chop the sweet potato, carrots, and parsnips. Place all ingredients except optional braising greens in the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. That’s all there is to it. If you like, add some chopped braising greens (kale or collards) to the crock pot 10 minutes before serving. Serve in stew bowls with a scoop of broth over the top. Use a small fork to scoop out and eat the bone marrow – it is very tasty and nutritious!