What is Osso Buco you say? Gremolada? Sounds too fancy for the home cook. Right? Wrong. This week was different cooking methods of meat and game. The menu was Irish Lamb stew, Osso Buco, and Stuffed pork chops. The key to this week? Low and Slow. You can apply these techniques next time you want to make those flavorful tough cuts of meat fork turn tender.
I was charged with preparing the Osso Buco which is a very classic dish of veal. First thing before preparing any meat to braise (or cook any method for that matter) is patting it dry. Why? Because if you leave the moisture on the meat the proteins don’t caramelize properly and the moisture essentially “steams” the meat instead of cooking it how you intended. Salt and pepper the meat and LET IT REST before cooking. Let it get to around room temperature. This relaxes the muscle fibers and makes the meat more tender.
After dredging the meat in flour, time to saute. Adding just enough fat (olive oil or butter) to cover the bottom of the pan and just a hair up the sides of the meat. If you put too much fat in then you’re not sauteing you’re simmering. After the sides were browned I added carrots and the garlic and sauted briefly. Once those items were almost tender, I added the liquid ingredients, white wine( adds flavor and also deglazes the pan of that beautiful fond), olive oil, tomato puree, vinegar ect. Cover and let it simmer in its on juices for about an hour. Be careful not to BOIL but a slow simmer. If your heat is too high, you toughen that connective tissue and make the meat as tough as old shoe leather.
While that simmers I made a gremolada. It is so basic but a nice topping for your meat. Finely minced garlic, parsley, and lemon zest. To check the meat for doneness and tender I wanted, stick a fork in the meat and turn it. If it turns easily, its done.
After removing the meat, you’re not done! Make a beautiful pan sauce by deglazing the hot pan with some white wine or water and scrape up all that fond or the little brown bits at the bottom of the pan. You can simmer uncovered until reduced, or if you want to thicken faster, a cornstarch slurry of cornstarch and water will speed up the process. Once the pan sauce is nappe (coats the back of a spoon) spoon it over the osso buco. Garnish with the gremolada, and a few julienne lemon peels, and voila a beautiful, hearty classical dish that’s sure to wow and impress.