Osso Buco

I could start this post off by rambling on about why I have been so scarce as of late, but that gets boring rather quickly. Instead I’ll just tell you I have moved into a new place, had a lot on my plate day job wise and life kinda ran away from me for a while.  I hope to be posting more recently now that I am settled into my new man cave.


Osso Bucco


Winter is the time for slow cooked stews, soups and braises, and when it comes to braises, the Italian classic Osso Buco is right up there at the top of my list. The name Osso Buco (or Ossobuco depending on who you ask) literally translates to “bone with a hole”, in reference to the marrow hole found inside of a cross cut veal shin.

I first saw the recipe for the spectacular dish on Janice Tripepi’s blog on Food24 about a year ago.  I placed it on my “Things to cook before I die” list, but because I couldn’t find veal at the time, I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was watching a TV series where they cooked an amazing variation of it and I decided there and then that come hell or high water I will be cooking Osso Buco in the coming week.

I launched an extensive investigaton (read “I asked around on Twitter”) for a source of veal.  As per usual Twitter delivered.  I was chatting with the venerable @BigBigJoe1 and he mentioned that he gets his Osso Buco meat from Salvin, the Neighbourgoods Butcher at the Old Biscuit Mill. It’s not technically veal, but the meat is from younger animals than normal beef shin, and works perfectly for Osso Buco.  Joe also pointed me at Janice’s recipe again and gave it his stamp of approval.

I must admit I was sceptical at the time on whether it would be worth driving all the way out there from behind the Boerewors Curtain (The northern suburbs of Cape Town, where I live) but I am happy to announce that it was well worth the drive. (It also didn’t hurt grabbing some buttermilk pancakes for breakfast while I was there).

So with thanks to Janice for the original inspiration and recipe, Joe for his knowledge of all things food and Salvin for being the Magic Meat guy, I give you my take on Osso Buco.


Osso Bucco


P.s. It’s pictured above with the traditional Risotto alla Milanese, but I’m not 100% happy with that part yet, so I’ll just give you the recipe for Osso Buco for now, I’ll add the risotto when I’ve mastered it.  For an easier “Riso alla Milanese” (which uses normal rice, not risotto rise) have a look on Janice’s Blog, it works great!

Ingredients  Serves 4

I’ve adjusted the quantities to work with my beautiful Le Creuset 30cm Buffet Casserole, you may need to adjust the amount of stock you use to suit your casserole. Try to use a deep, wide dish with a lid that is oven proof.  The main thing is to make sure that the meat is covered with sauce while cooking in the oven.

For the Osso Bucco

  • 1.5kg to 2kg veal shin (use beef shin if you can’t find veal but it will need to be cooked longer)
  • 1 cup of  flour
  • generous pinch of salt and pepper
  • knob of butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 70 g tomatoe puree
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 can Italian whole peeled tomatoes
  • 500ml – 1L chicken stock (I use NoMu Chicken Fond religiously)
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • a handful of fresh Italian herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano etc)

For the Gremolata

  • 1 large handful of flat leaf parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • zest of a lemon
  • drizzle of olive oil



Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius.


Beef shin dusted with flour


Add the flour, salt and pepper to a tray and dust the piece of meat with it.  If you have a large zip-loc bag you can also pop everyting in there and shake it about for a bit.


Browned Beef shin


Brown the shin in some olive oil and butter on medium heat in the casserole you plan on using.  Its important to get a decent amount of colour on the meat, this will lead to more depth of flavour in the end.  Brown the meat in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Remember kids, when cooking, colour equals flavour.


Sautee vegeteables


When you are done browning the meat, set it aside and pop in the vegetables.  Get some colour on the veggies as wel, then pop in the tomato puree.  Cook this out for a minute or two.

You will notice some sticky caramelised bits forming on the bottom of the pan.  That stuff is essential to the flavour of the dish, so it is important that we incorporate it into the sauce, instead of just letting it burn on the pan.

To do this, we need to “deglaze” the pan, which basically just means lifting the caramelised food residue off the bottom of the pan using a liquid.  Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, it should come off easily.  Take the time to do this properly, you won’t be dissapointed.  It’s important to get the maximum amount of flavours out of a dish when cooking, and these small steps all add up in the end.


Sautee vegeteables, tomato puree and white wine


After most of the wine has evaporated you should end up with a nicely coloured base of tomatoe and veggies as above.  Now lets turn that into a sauce.  Add the garlic, herbs, can of whole tomatoes (break these up a bit with the wooden spoon), bay leaves and 500ml of chicken stock and bring that to a low simmer. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning. With regards to the herbs, you can tie the sprigs together with a piece of string to make it easier to fish them out at the end.


Simmering sauce


Now you can add the beef shin back into the pan and add more stock if needed to cover the meat.  Bring that up to a simmer and pop the lid on your casserole.


Low and slow


Place the casserole in the oven and let it cook “low and slow” for about 2 hours on 160 degrees celsius.  Check it every 30 minutes or so, making sure the meat is still mostly covered with sauce. Taste the sauce when you do open it up, and adjust seasoning if need me.


Have a peak


The actual cooking time will vary on the quality and age of the beef you used, so start checking at about 90 minutes, you want to be able to effortlessly get the meat off the bone with a spoon.  When the meat is tender enough, remove the dish from the oven, fish out the stalky bits left behind by the herbs, and let it cool down somewhat while we make the traditional accompaniment for Osso Buco, which is Gremolata.

All it is, is parsley, garlic and lemon zest chopped up together.  You may think that you don’t like lemon or parsley (I’ll not comment on how many points you just lost in my book) but please try this, the zing of the lemon really cuts through the fattiness of the dish and lifts up the flavour.  Try it, if you still don’t like it, I’ll forgive you, this time…


Lemon zest and parsley for Gremolata


It’s really simple, just pop the garlic, parsley and lemon zest on a board and drizzle with some olive oil.  Then start a choppin’.  You should end up with something like this.




I like Janice’s suggestion of stirring two thirds of the Gremolata into the dish, and leaving some on the side to add to each portion as you dish up.


Osso Bucco 2


There you have it, an Italian classic that every self respecting gentleman should know how to cook properly.  Play around with the quantities and flavour and make it your own.

As always, comments, questions, suggestions are most welcome :)



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Author:Fritz Brand

Passionate Foodie, Blues Man, Photographer, Technology Geek and all round cool dude.

26 Responses to “Osso Buco”

  1. August 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Oh my word ! This looks so delicious Fritz – I’m pinning the recipe but will have to see where I can find veal on the East Rand {I’d really like to make it with the veal but if I can not find any I’ll use Shin – maybe pressure cook it for 20 – 30 minutes before? }

    • Fritz Brand
      August 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      Thanks Linda. Beef shin will work just fine, will need some more time in the oven :)

  2. Tami
    August 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Nomnomnom! Such a great recipe and well worth waiting for. I know very well what its like for life to get in the way of blogging. Glad you’re back. You were missed :)

    • Fritz Brand
      August 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

      Thanks Tami :)

  3. Amy
    August 13, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    YAY – been looking for a great osso bucco recipe! Going to try it this weekend.

    • Fritz Brand
      August 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Woohoo, let me know how it goes please :)

  4. August 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Wow Fritz, it looks awesome! I’ve never cooked it and never eaten it (I have a thing for bones…yes, I know) but this looks so good, I want to give it a try. Nice one!

    • Fritz Brand
      August 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Give it a try you silly no bones person, you only live once!

  5. andrew
    August 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Can one do this in a slow cooker?

    • Fritz Brand
      August 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm #


      I’ve never worked with a slow cooker before, but I don’t see a reason why not to at least give it a try. I would still brown the meat and veggies etc in a pan, basically keep everything the same up to the point of puting it in the oven, at which time you pop everything in the slow cooker.

      Let me know how it turns out :)

      • Flee
        August 15, 2012 at 10:36 am #

        OOOhhh~Sooooo Num num. The man would kill for this for def… Just a small suggestion if using a slow cooker, let it warm up first, while you brown your meat, and veg etc, adding each into the warming cooker as you complete them, otherwise it takes FFoooreeever to get up to temperature with everything in… Thanks so much, lets go spoil my Giant

        • Fritz Brand
          August 15, 2012 at 11:47 am #

          Hi Flee, thanks for the tip on the Slow cooker! Please let me know if The Giant approves. Cheers

          • Flee
            August 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

            My Pleasure, and def will get back to you when I make it… Thanks again

  6. August 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    O my word, Fritz, this looks absolutely delicious!!

    • Fritz Brand
      August 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks Zirkie :)

  7. October 12, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Gorgeous recipe. Johan and I chatted about this recipe and he mentioned you did a version of Janice’s too. Looks spectacular. It’s on my must-try list too

    • Fritz Brand
      October 12, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Aaah thanks Ishay :) Let me know how it goes :)

  8. October 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    With the Cape weather going the way that it is now, this has just moved up a few notches on my “have to do” list…

  9. Caterina Ciman
    November 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi Fritz, I am Italian, and I have to say that you are one of the first South African chefs that got this recipe right. Well done! My mum, who came from Verona, taught me to make it without the tomatoes, but I guess it must be a regional “thing”. I do know Italians who come from other cities in Italy that include the tomatoes, so it is still very authentic. All the best, Caterina.

    • Fritz Brand
      November 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

      Hi Caterina

      Wow, thank you so much for the kind words, it really means a lot to me!! :) I am not aware of any Italian blood in my family, but I’m sure I got some “AfrItalian” in me somehow :)

      Much thanks to Janice Tripepi for her original version though, this one was largely based on that.

  10. January 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Wow! This looks complex but delicious!

    • Fritz Brand
      January 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

      Thanks Dave! :)

  11. Sue Heywood
    October 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Just found this recipe and made it in my slow cooker and it was absolutely delicious. I’ve saved the recipe on my bookmarks.

    • Fritz Brand
      October 29, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks Sue, glad you like it!

  12. E. W. Migwe
    March 12, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    Hi Fritz,
    Thank you for this yummy recipe. This is the 4th time I have used it, and it never disappoints. I cook mine on the stove top and add a fresh Jalapeno for an extra kick. I omit the can of tomatoes and only use fresh pureed tomatoes and it works beautifully. I also end up finishing off the rest of the bottle of wine, which gets me in a particularly good mood as I eat the yummy osso buco!
    Thank you for sharing.

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