Rico Suave Osso Buco With Garlic Pommes Anna
2 medium sized (about .75-1lb each) cross-cut veal shanks (a.k.a. ossobuco)
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Another cold day in Boston, and another snowstorm, too — this one bringing the euphemistically named “wintery mix”, which just means interlined layers of fluffy snow and slickery slush. So we headed out to Whole Foods early in the day and tried to purchase whatever we’d need to feed ourselves for the whole weekend. Maintaining my pledge to showcase some new technique each week, I focused my attention on side dishes. Pommes Anna is a potato dish, not unlike a gratin, but with butter instead of bechamel or cheese in between paper thin layers of starchy yumminess. The recipe is simple; it’s the execution that is time consuming. But it is an elegant and delightful way to serve your spuds, and one which – once you master – you’ll crave like crack. On the main dish hand, Clayton and I wanted something hearty and rich, and we wanted to fill the
Look at these beautiful calves wrapped around these sturdy tibias; their marble-lines look almost like they were etched into the muscle by ancient Egyptian calligraphers.
I love bone marrow — with a passion not unlike an addiction. Osso Buco is one of those dishes where bone marrow makes an especial appearance, and it plays an important role in the pan well before it meets the palate. To wit: see how the white tube of marrow at the core of this leg-bone has begun to, well… bleed? As my shank browns nicely on one side, the heat is transfered through the meat, but it passes more quickly through the light whipped texture of this tissue – providing the observant cook with a nice hint regarding flipping time.
On all sides.
I then add my herbs and spices, as well as some sea salt and black pepper.
After a few moments, I add about a cup of red wine (we had a nice sangiovese Clayton was planning to enjoy with the meal anyway) to deglaze the pan. I reduce for about 4 minutes on medium high.
Enter the “rico” part of tonight’s sauce: rich, sweet, complex tomatoes. I love this brand — they are hands down better than the awful tomatoes available in the market these days: bland, chalky, watery, boring. The citric acids will help soften the sinews of my normally tough cut of veal, breaking down and absorbing all the savory the meat-flavored fats.
I add my ossobuco back to the pan, then add enough beef stock to bring the liquid level up to cover at least 3/4 of the meat. I cover, set on low, then walk away for an hour and a half. I spend the first half of that time drawing smiley faces in my windows as they fog up with delicious veal shank steam.
For the second 45 minutes or so, I prepare my potatoes for my Pommes Anna. I set up a large catch bowl with salted cold water, then hook my cheapo mandoline to the rim. I’ve washed and peeled my potatoes, and these I run along my blade, slicing them at the thinnest possible setting. I’ve recently purchased a cutting glove; which makes this task so much less dangerous.
See how thin? Lovely.
All you need for Pommes Anna is butter (most recipes call for clarified butter; I needs me some cheesecloth, so…), salt, and pepper. The classical technique calls for cast iron, which I don’t have, so I’m using these small ceramic ramekin instead. Also, varying from the classical technique, I’m making individual spud stacks, instead of one large pancake to be shared by the table. Finally, I’m adding thinly sliced fresh garlic – sliced on the same setting on my mandoline as the potatoes themselves – in between some of my layers to kick up the flavor. I start my brushing down each ramekin with melted butter, and studding them with a sprinkling of sea salt and cracked pepper.
My potato slices are so thin, you can barely see them in this picture, but I’ve layered four spud sheets, fanning them out to cover the whole surface of the bowl, dropped two garlic flakes over them, then sprinkled with more salt and pepper before dotting everything again with melted butter. I do this, over and over and over again (only adding garlic intermittently)…
It’s been almost 2 hours now, and my veal shanks are so tender they are absolutely falling apart. I fish them out of the pan, trying to hold them together (if I’d had kitchen twine, I would have tied them), and set them aside while I finish my “rico suave” gravy.
My gently braised veal falls apart with barely a sharp glance, and the zesty fresh gremolata offsets its richness, complimenting the vegetable thick tomato gravy puree. A silky tender flaky cloud of buttery and snappy garlicky potato adds just the right amount of starch to soak up all the perfect flavors present on my plate. This is beautiful, inviting, fragrant, and heartwarming — a classy culinary cap after a desolate and dreary winter day.