Veal is lighter and milder in taste than most beef, so you need to use a lighter hand with flavorings. Using white wine instead of red is one example – red wine would overpower the dish. Because veal is so mild, it can also end up a little on the bland side. At least one recipe calls for browning the shanks in the fat of rendered pancetta to add extra flavor. I considered that for a while until I saw recipes that called for another secret ingredient for adding umami to a meat dish: Anchovy paste or fillets. I first discovered this trick when I made a Provençal layered pot roast. The anchovies impart no fishiness at all, but add a wonderful depth and complexity. Many recipes also call for topping osso buco with gremolata, a mix of minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Make sure to do this – it adds a nice bright finish to the dish and balances its richness.
Osso buco is often served with risotto. I served it with short pasta tossed with some of the pan juices and vegetables. It would also be delicious with creamy mashed potatoes – not authentic, mind you, but delicious.
And finally, one of the treats of this dish is the delicious, fatty marrow in the center of the bones. In fact, the name osso buco means bone with a hole, showing how important the marrow is. There are narrow spoons designed specifically for getting at it, but I say it’s an opportunity to finally get some use from those goofy souvenir state spoons in the back of the silverware drawer.
Osso Buco with Gremolata
Serves 2 to 3