Osso Buco (or Ossobuco) is famous in Lambard cuisine. It’s basically braised veal shanks with vegetables, white wine and broth. What I did not know is that my mother had been cooking this dish for years in our humble adobe in Spanish Harlem. She called it Carne Ternera Guisada, or Braised Veal Shanks. All that time she was cooking a Northern Italian specialty, and we didn’t know it. It just shows the cross-currents of regional cuisines, and how they influenced each other.
Depending upon her whim, my mom would add carrots or potatoes to the dish; and we would serve it with yellow rice. Not the traditional risotto or polenta as done in Lombardy.
This is a hearty meal permeated with herbs, spices and wine. This time around we served it atop couscous, one of our favorite grains. You can use whatever grain is favored, or pasta. Add a good Chianti, Zinfandel or Cabernet, and you’re set.
BRAISE VEAL SHANKS
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 medium-sized veal shanks
3 tablespoons flour
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
1 (15-oz.) can whole or diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 cup Chablis or Rhine wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- In a Dutch oven or heavy kettle, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and lamb shanks dusted lightly with flour; and brown on all sides.
- Add onion, carrots, tomatoes, bay leaves and wine. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook very slowly until tender, about 1½ to 2 hours.
- Stir in parsley and grated lemon rind. Add salt and pepper, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.