Today is officially the first day of winter. (Here in the Greater Daglan Area, it’s sunny and cold, with the temperature hovering around freezing — thanks for asking.) And of course, Christmas is getting awfully close.
So you’re probably wondering why I’m writing — yet again — about osso buco. Well, hold on a minute there.
Since this blog is about “life in a village in southwest France,” I’m compelled to write about the problems as well as the benefits of life in the GDA. So here’s the problem with making osso buco in this little village, as I described it in “The veal deal,” posted a few weeks ago, on October 31:
… veal tastes better here, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find well-trimmed, attractive pieces of veal shank to make that Italian classic, osso buco. In fact, whenever I have the urge to make the dish, we start hunting for pieces of veal shank at least a week or two in advance; then, if we find some nice ones in the supermarket, we will freeze them until I’m ready to cook.
Since I’m always (okay, occasionally) looking for ways to solve problems, it occurred to me that something similar to osso buco might be made from one of the rolled roasts that — perhaps surprisingly — are easy to find in the meat counters of our supermarkets. I have used a rolled roast of pork to make a good pot roast, so I thought I’d try a switcheroo by using a rolled roast of veal shoulder instead of veal shank for my quasi-osso buco.
So here’s a quick look at how I did it, and how it turned out. As always, I started by lightly browning some finely chopped carrots, onions and celery in butter:
In another pan, I browned the rolled roast of veal shoulder, which was trussed up like something that Houdini would have trouble escaping. Here it is, browning away in olive oil:
The veal roast then went into the large pot holding the vegetables, and the usual ingredients were added — beef stock, white wine, dried thyme and basil, some parsley, a few bay leaves, and a can of tomatoes. Here it is, ready for the oven:
Now osso buco is Italian for “bone with a hole,” and of course the rolled veal roast doesn’t contain any bones. So my next bright idea was to buy some soup bones, rich with marrow, and to cook them along with the veal. Here’s the packet of marrow bones (Os à moelle) that we chose:
At this stage, the veal had been cooking in the oven for an hour, and I thought it was time to add the bones. So I plunged them into the sauce — like this:
Then it was back into the oven for another 30 minutes, which is lots of time for the marrow to cook. Next steps: remove the veal and bones from the pot, discard the parsley and the bay leaves, and whiz the sauce with an electric whisk.
Finally, I cooked the sauce for a few minutes more with some gluten-free thickener (Maizena Sauceline), returned the bones and veal to the pot, and heated them through. And then it was on to the plate, served for lunch with polenta and green beans, like this:
Obviously it’s not the classic osso buco, but it was still delicious. And easier to cook. And much less expensive. So I think this is a keeper.
And now … it’s on to Christmas! We’re in the final stages of preparation. Our ongoing challenge is sweeping up pine needles almost as fast as they fall from our Christmas tree.