Russell Norman’s recently published cookbook, Polpo, may be named for his London restaurant (which is named after the Italian word for octopus), but there are many more recipes to be had. We were compelled to try out a recipe that combines creamy, earthy saffron risotto with the classic slow-braised veal shanks known as osso buco.
Osso buco means “bone hole” – not particularly appetizing as a description but very accurate; there is a bone in the middle with a hole in it. If you’re very lucky, you get a big wobbly piece of marrow to suck out at the end of your feast. It is by no means Venetian and originates from the region of Lombardy, but since it is a dish with such wide appeal, it appears all over Italy.
- extra virgin olive oil
- 6 pieces veal shin on the bone, about 1 1/2 inches thick, hind-leg is best
- seasoned flour, for coating
- 3 carrots, finely chopped
- 3 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
- leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- flaky sea salt and ground black pepper
- a glass of white wine
- 3 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
- 8 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 1/4 cups risotto rice (carnaroli is best)
- a glass of dry vermouth
- good pinch of saffron
- 1 handful grated Parmesan
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a large heavy-based pan, heat a couple of glugs of olive oil until hot. Cover the veal shins with enough seasoned flour to coat. Fry them in the oil until nice and brown on both flat sides. Remove and set aside.
- Pour a glug of olive oil into a separate heavy-based pan and add the chopped carrots, celery and one of the onions. Sweat these slowly and add the chopped rosemary, thyme leaves, garlic and a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper.
- When the vegetables are starting to stick, add the glass of white wine and allow to bubble away for 2 minutes, scraping all the good bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and a cup of water and bring to the boil. Now, transfer everything to a large roasting tray with the browned meat. Make sure all of it is covered with the tomato mix and cover with foil. Place in the preheated oven for around 2 hours, or until meat is almost falling off the bone.
- When there are about 30 minutes to go with the veal shins, you should make the risotto. Put a glug of oil and half the butter in a saucepan and in it slowly sauté the other chopped onion until it becomes translucent and glossy. This will take about 15 minutes on a low heat. Meanwhile, heat up the vegetable stock in another saucepan.
- Add the rice to the onion and stir for 2 minutes, coating every grain. Add the glass of vermouth. This will create a large cloud of steam and a wonderful smell as it evaporates. Add a large ladle of the hot stock and let the rice absorb the liquid, stirring all the while.
- At this point, delicately scatter the pinch of saffron into the rice. Add another ladle to cover the rice and repeat this process as the rice absorbs the stock and the grains release their starch and the whole mixture takes on a delightful creamy consistency. After 15 minutes or so, taste the rice – it should be creamy but still have a slight bite.
- When the rice is done, remove from the heat and carefully fold in the Parmesan and the remaining butter. Cover and let the whole thing rest for a few minutes.
- Take the veal from the oven and remove the foil. The meat should be practically falling off the bone. Serve the risotto onto each of the 6 plates and place a veal shin on top of each mound of yellow rice. Spoon the sauce onto the meat and serve.
Try out these veal recipes for dinner on Food Republic: