Man Ray. Some names were just tailor made for greatness. If my parents had thought to name me Man instead of Mark I might actually have made something of myself. Picasso. Nobody named Picasso could not be great, if you know what I mean. The name, Osso bucco has that air of irrefutable deliciousness. Veal shank braised in aromatic herbs, spices, and vegetables, a bit of wine and the incredible mouth feel of veal bone marrow that dissipates slowly through the flesh, marrying everything in buttery richness, by any other name would be as glorious. So how do you salt a Picasso?
The classic approach to seasoning osso bucco is to add sel gris up front, with the intention of letting the salt do its magic, slowly permeating the meat, helping to tenderize it and develop its flavors. In truth, the cooking method is sufficient to tenderize the meat, and the minerals naturally present in veal are enough to flavor it, especially since braising concentrates natural flavors. The cast of characters such as mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) supporting the osso bucco don’t need salt to cook properly, though they can definitely use a touch for emphasis. With these facts and thoughts in hand, we can lightly deconstruct the immaculate osso bucco and approach salting it with a fresh perspective, salting less up front and adding a noble salt (like Piran Sel Gris) to its garnish of gremolata that traditionally tops Milanese dishes, providing us with a new name for perfection
4 pieces of veal shank, each about 2 inches thick
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups low salt veal stock or chicken broth
1 cup canned unsalted diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 big pinches Piran Sel Gris
Tie an 18 inch piece of string around the perimeter of each piece of veal shank. Dust both sides of each piece of veal with flour.
In a large heavy deep-sided skillet heat the butter and 1 tablespoon oil until it foams. Brown the shanks in the hot fat on both sides. Remove to a plate. Add the onion, carrot, celery and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add 2/3 of the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add any remaining seasoned flour. Add the wine and simmer until alcohol evaporates, about 1 minute. Add the stock, tomatoes and bay leaves; heat until simmering. Season to taste with pepper. Return the shanks to the pan along with any liquid that has accumulated on the plate. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, until the shanks are tender.
Mix the lemon zest with the remaining garlic and the chopped parsley to make the gremolata; set aside.
When the shanks are fork tender remove them with a set of tongs to a platter, untying each one as you do. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce left in the pan. Add the lemon juice to the sauce and spoon over the shanks. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
Add the sel gris to the gremolata and scatter over the shanks.
Makes 4 servings.
Serve with black truffle salt risotto (Pictured here. I’ll get cracking on a recipe for that) or a simple pasta with olive oil and fried garlic.