Ossobuco is the only dish that has not come off my menu at Felidia in 40 years. People absolutely love the rich flavor of veal shank prepared this way and the soft meat, falling off the bone. The serious ossobuco eaters even scoop the marrow out of the center. I’m sure you already have tried several recipes for ossobucco if you’re a fan, but do try this rendition—the juice from the orange keeps it light and fresh, but still very classical. The traditional ossobuco is usually served with risotto, as in the recipe in Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, but I find that barley is much easier to handle. Unlike risotto, barley can be prepared in advance, and I love its nutty flavor. Here I also give you the recipe for the gremolata, a simple chopping of parsley, garlic and orange peel. It brings an additional freshness to the dish, but is not necessary.
For the Ossobuco
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
4 whole cloves
1 orange, peel and juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup finely diced celery
3 whole shanks of veal, bone in, , each about 3 ½ pounds and each cut into 2 pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tsp. tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups crushed canned plum tomatoes
4 cups Chicken Stock , or canned low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Barley Risotto
2 quarts water
1 cup diced (1/4-inch) trimmed carrots
1 cup diced (1/4-inch) onion
1 cup diced (1/4-inch) trimmed celery
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup pearl barley
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Gremolata
2 lemon peels (yellow part only, no white pith), finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
Prepare the ossobuco: tie the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and cloves securely in a 4-inch square of cheesecloth. With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest (yellow part of the peel only) from the lemon in wide strips. Do the same to the orange. Squeeze the juice from the orange and reserve separately.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy casserole large enough to fit all the veal shanks. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and the cheesecloth bundle of herbs. Season lightly with salt, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
Pat the veal shanks dry with paper towels. Tie a piece of kitchen twine securely around the perimeter of each piece of shank to hold them together during cooking. Season them with salt and pepper and coat with flour, shaking the excess flour off. Divide the vegetable oil between two heavy, large skillets and heat over medium heat. Add the shanks to the skillets and cook, turning once, until well browned on all sides. (Alternatively, the shanks may be browned in batches in a single skillet.) Add the browned ossobuco to the casserole with the vegetable and add the tomato paste. Stir the tomato paste into the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally and turning the shanks once or twice, 10 minutes. Pour in the white wine, bring to a boil, and then add the orange juice and the orange and lemon zest. Bring to a vigorous boil over high heat and boil 10 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes; reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Stir in a cup of the chicken stock. Cover and simmer over low heat, adding stock to keep the level of liquid in the casserole the same, until the shanks are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Rotate the veal shanks in the casserole as they cook.
Meanwhile, prepare the barley and the gremolata: Bring the water, celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves and olive oil to a boil. Stir in the barley and cook until tender but still firm, about 20 minutes. Drain the barley and set aside.
To make the gremolata, toss the lemon zest, parsley, and garlic in a small bowl until blended and set aside.
When the veal is tender, remove the shank pieces and cut off the strings. Pass the cooking sauce through a sieve, pressing hard on the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Return the meat and strained sauce to the casserole and bring to a boil. Check the seasoning and keep the veal warm over low heat.
Finish the barley: Heat the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the barley and cook, stirring often, until the barley is heated through and coated with butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve some barley and two pieces of the veal on each plate, sprinkling the veal with gremolata.