When I see osso buco—the Italian wine-braised meat specialty—on a menu, I almost always order it. In white tablecloth restaurants, it’s usually made with cross-cut veal shank, and it is a pricey dish. I’ve seen it made with pork shanks, and even lamb shanks but the rich taste of beef is my favorite.
Recently when my wife decided to make a pot of vegetable soup and came home from the grocery store with a bag full of fresh vegetables, tomatoes, stock, and a pack of inexpensive beef shank soup bones, a culinary light bulb went off. Yeah, a tasty full-flavored osso buco at half the cost. Why not?
I hijacked my wife’s ingredients and told her that I would cook supper. Thinking I was making soup, she agreed. Onion, celery, garlic, fennel, and chopped tomatoes were the foundation of my aromatics, and sage, parsley, and rosemary cut fresh from my herb garden joined the flavor-filled party. A can of Ro-Tel, a bottle of dry red wine, a little stock, a few added spices, and this was just as easy as making soup.
The results were amazing. Roxanne never missed her soup, and we have now found a new favorite recipe for beef soup bones.
- 4 (10-ounce) cross-cut beef shanks with marrow bone
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- ½ cup chopped fennel bulb
- 1 large ripe tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 (10-ounce) can mild diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained, such as Ro-Tel
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- Season the beef shanks with salt and pepper, and coat all sides with flour.
- In a cast-iron pot or skillet with a heavy lid over medium-high heat, add the oil. Place the meat in the oil and brown both sides. Pour off any excess oil and add the wine to deglaze. Let the wine cook off for 3 minutes and add the stock.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and add the onion, celery, fennel, tomato, Ro-Tel, garlic, sage, rosemary, and parsley. Add the bay leaves, and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and let cook on simmer for 2 hours.
- Uncover and check to see that the meat is fork tender. Taste the gravy, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve over mashed potatoes or white rice.
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