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Osso Buco (Italian Braised Veal Shanks)

Serves 4

If you like veal and have never tried Osso Buco, you really should. It takes some time to cook, but is well worth the wait. Part of the attraction of the dish is the marrow found in the bones. Although very rich, it is a special treat. Traditionally, Osso Buco is served with a gremolata, which is a combination of chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest that is added to the dish at the very end. Sometimes, it is stirred into the sauce, other times spooned on top of the individual servings. I have included it in the recipe, but I do not always use it. Either way, you have an absolutely delicious main dish for a special occasion or entertaining. Serve with pasta or the tradition Risotto Milanese, which is in the similar and related recipes.


   Optional Gremolata

Preheat oven to 350° F. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Dust lightly with the flour. Heat an ovenproof sauté pan or dutch oven large enough to hold the shanks in one layer over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat. Add the shanks and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and reduce heat to medium. Place the onions, carrots, celery and peppers in the pan. Cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Pour in the wine and broth. Return heat to high and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice, tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, the 1-1/2 tablespoons of parsley and additional salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, until reduced by about one-third. (There should be enough liquid to come about half way up the sides of the shanks.) Return the shanks and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cover tightly and place in oven. Cook until the meat is very tender and starting to fall off the bones, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the shanks from the pan. Cook the sauce over high heat until reduced as desired.

Meanwhile, mix together the gremolata ingredients. Add to the sauce and stir well to combine. Serve the shanks with pasta or rice, spooning some sauce over each.