Get au­then­tic: do the veal thing

It is, so some sources say, pos­si­ble to find real veal in South Africa, but not easy. Hen­nie Fisher ex­plains

Business Day - Home Front - - NEWS - Hen­nie Fisher is a culi­nary arts lec­turer at the Uni­ver­sity of Pre­to­ria’s Depart­ment of Con­sumer Sci­ence.

BY DEF­I­NI­TION, veal comes from young cat­tle (calves), milk fed and un­weaned and un­der the age of three months. Yes, one of our premier food sup­pli­ers does sell ‘baby-beef’, pre­sum­ably from an­i­mals be­tween 6 to 12 months old and not reared ex­clu­sively on milk alone. The del­i­cately lean and ten­der light pink, but firm flesh, is un­mis­tak­able and what one wants for a true osso bucco.

This au­then­tic Mi­lanese dish re­quires small shank bones cut about 2cm thick, with a cute, round bone slam-bang in the mid­dle sur­rounded by an equal amount of meat all round. This is a very spe­cific re­quire­ment, and the flabby steak-like chops sold as shanks, along with those whole shanks that now abound on ev­ery res­tau­rant menu all over the coun­try, just will not do.

If you have the pa­tience hang around your butcher counter for one or two de­cent shank slices from ev­ery leg, but it will take a while to ac­cu­mu­late enough from an as­sort­ment of beef car­casses.

The al­ter­na­tive, of course, would be to make your osso bucco from lamb or even mut­ton. A while ago Pick n Pay sold some unattrac­tively boxed 2km to 3km pack­ets of New Zealand lamb that con­tained a se­lec­tion of lit­tle shank pieces, each per­fectly round with the un­mis­tak­able bone in the mid­dle. If you are not a purist in­sist­ing on Ka­roo lamb, and if you are able to ig­nore that ever more press­ing car­bon mile guilt for a moment, these are def­i­nitely worth lay­ing your hands on.

Osso bucco is one of the few dishes in which the Ital­ians serve primi and sec­ondi to­gether, as the tra­di­tional ac­com­pa­ni­ment for osso bucco is risotto Mi­lanese: sim­ple Parmi­giano risotto.

At some point osso bucco was such a pop­u­lar dish that lit­tle nar­row spoons were in­vented es­pe­cially to get to the bit of mar­row sus­pended in the round bone, some­thing that many con­sider the high­light of this dish.

This dish lends it­self to deep mid­win­ter when you want some­thing hearty and unc­tu­ous, as well as to now, when spring is around the corner but it is still some­what cool. It is made with white wine (in bianco) when no tomato is added. Some recipes sug­gest the meat should be tied with string to pre­vent it fall­ing from the bone dur­ing cook­ing.

Fi­nally, there is the mat­ter of gre­mo­lada: that sprin­kling of finely chopped pars­ley, le­mon zest and gar­lic of­ten ac­com­pa­ny­ing an osso bucco.

± 2kg veal or lamb shin pieces, all about 2cm thick, and about 5cm in di­am­e­ter Flour — sea­soned 80g but­ter 80ml veg­etable oil 4 car­rots, finely chopped 6 cel­ery stalks, finely chopped 3 onions, finely chopped 3 gar­lic cloves crushed into a paste 4 bay leaves Salt and pep­per 250ml dry white wine 500ml lamb stock 6 toma­toes, skin and seeds re­moved.

Whether you sauté the onions, cel­ery and car­rots first, re­move them and then brown the shank pieces, or the other way around, is your own choice.

Just don’t leave any bits of carrot mix in the casse­role af­ter re­mov­ing the re­main­der, as it will burn when you braise the meat at a higher heat.

It is im­per­a­tive to use a sturdy, heavy casse­role. If you plan to make this in the oven then of course your dish needs to be oven­proof, but this dish works equally well on the stove top.

Melt but­ter and oil to­gether and sauté carrot/onion/cel­ery mix gen­tly un­til soft. Add gar­lic and lightly brown the mix for a minute or two. Re­move and set aside. Add more oil if nec­es­sary, dredge the shank pieces in flour and shake of as much of the ex­cess as pos­si­ble. Brown the pieces very well, turn­ing them of­ten un­til they have a beau­ti­ful even colour all over — it’s best to do this in batches if your casse­role is not big enough. Deglaze the pan with wine. Add meat, veg­eta­bles, stock and toma­toes back to the pan. Add a few bay leaves and a grind­ing of pep­per. Bring to the boil, and trans­fer to a medium hot oven, or turn down the stove and cook slowly and gen­tly for at least 2 to 3 hours un­til the meat is re­ally soft but not fall­ing of the bone and the pan juices have turned into lus­ciously thick goo.

Check sea­son­ing and con­sis­tency and ad­just. Osso bucco is, apart from the afore­men­tioned tra­di­tional risotto Mi­lanese, also great served with mashed potato and might even be de­li­cious with a good dollop of pap on the side.

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