For this braised veal shanks with white beans recipe, I took advantage of some of the overlap in these two timeless dishes. Then I skewed the whole thing in a cassoulet direction. Traditional cassoulet is a real meat festival. In addition to the aforementioned duck, it usually contains lamb and/or various cuts of pork, and it always includes sausage. The shanks are plenty meaty, so I just used a little bacon to achieve some of the smoky flavor sausage adds. And of course, white beans and bread crumbs are key cassoulet ingredients. They help anchor this dish, too.
Braised veal shanks with white beans
4 cross-cut veal shanks (osso buco cut, 1/2- to 3/4-pound each)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flour (about 1/4 cup or so)
3 slices bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 shallots, sliced (or 1 medium yellow onion)
3 carrots, sliced on an angle
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles (or 1 teaspoon dry)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup dry white wine (I used a muscadet) [optional, may substitute cooking wine]
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (plus more, if needed)
2 small bay leaves (or 1 large)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 15-ounce cans white beans, such as cannellini
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the veal shanks dry with paper towels and tie them with kitchen twine around the outside. Season generously with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Set aside. In a cold Dutch oven large enough to hold shanks in a single layer, drizzle a little canola oil and add bacon strips. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, turning frequently. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Working in batches, brown shanks on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from Dutch oven and add 1 tablespoon butter. Add shallots and carrots. Cook until shallots are beginning to soften, stirring frequently to avoid burning, three to four minutes. Add garlic, thyme and rosemary to pot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds.