This may come as a bit of a shock, but come New Year's Eve we tend to be sort of homebodies. I know, it's a big going out, eating well, drinking better night and all - and we're all about those things, believe me. Except, for some reason, this night. I think it started when our son was small - no one really wanted to stay home and babysit, and his little smiling face was the first thing I wanted to see for the new year anyway. Now, of course, the face is much bigger - and a little bit pickier when it comes to eating well. Mea culpa, I know...anyway, now I just sort of like hanging at home with the family and cooking up something yummy.
This year, Osso Bucco seemed like a fine dish to make for a festive night at home. Osso Bucco is one of those wonderful Italian dishes where they take a relatively cheap cut of meat (in this case, veal shanks - Osso Bucco literally means "bone with a hole" in Italian), and braise it in wine and aromatic veggies for a long long time until it is a picture of falling-off-the-bone deliciousness. It is most often served with risotto, which is certainly something we're a fan of here - but we had just had my mushroom risotto for Christmas dinner. We needed very little convincing to do it over polenta instead...because really, when is it not a good time for polenta ?
adapted from a Fiorella's recipe (there's even a video of them making it at the link...pretty cool :))
5 pieces 3" thick, bone-in veal shanks
½ cup all-purpose flour for dredging
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup ruby port
4 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves, dried or fresh
Preheat oven to 350. Pat veal shanks dry with paper towels to remove moisture. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Dredge them in flour, shaking off excess.
In a heavy skillet or large dutch oven pot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Sear shanks on all sides (about 5 minutes per side)
Remove the browned veal shanks and set aside. Raise heat to high, add onions, carrots and celery. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and mix well
Add wine to deglaze, reduce by half. Return the shanks to the pot and add stock, bay leaves and herbs. Bring to a boil
Cover pan and place in oven for 2½ - 3 hours or until meat is tender. Baste the shanks a few times during cooking
Remove cover and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce sauce. Serve shanks atop rice, pasta, risotto, or polenta, and spoon sauce over top
If you'd like to start with homemade polenta, you will need to start the proceedings the night before. Follow the package directions, and pat the polenta into a loaf pan. Cover and let chill overnight, then grill as below. If you don't have the time or the inclination to make it, you can buy large tubes of polenta prepared and ready to go (usually found with the fresh pasta), which is what we did above...so trust us, it works great :)
1 tube or loaf of prepared polenta
2 eggs, beaten with a tablespoon of water
bread crumbs (plain, Italian or panko all work just fine)
Cut polenta into half inch slices. Dip into egg, then bread crumbs. Fry on a preheated grill pan (medium high heat) for 4 -5 minutes per side, or until done to your liking. Perfect for serving Osso Bucco over - or any other kind of saucy dish - but really wonderful anytime. Try it just dipped into marinara sauce - or for extra special awesomeness, add a pureed chipotle pepper to the sauce first. OMGWTF good....