Osso buco alla milanese, my way

This osso buco recipe has to be one of my favourites.

Adding perfumes of allspice, cinnamon and orange to this classic Italian dish enriches it without denaturalizing it. Your guests will not be able to distinguish each ingredient but rather, will compliment you on the complexity of the dish.

Using just a bit of tomato paste here instead of using fresh or canned tomatoes, helps you control the consistency of the sauce. I sometimes purée the sauce at the end or I leave it chunky, depending on how I feel. Both give excellent results. For the gremolata, I sometimes omit the garlic and you can leave it out if you find it overwhelming.

Osso buco alla milanese


4 veal shanks
flour for dredging
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups good chicken broth
2 bay leaves
5 allspice berries, crushed (or a pinch of ground allspice)
1 one inch stick cinnamon
3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 strip orange peel, cut with a vegetable peeler, without the white pith
2 strips lemon peel, cut with a vegetable peeler, without the white pith
salt and pepper to taste

For the gremolata:

1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
the grated zest of 1/2 lemon


Preheat the oven to 350F.

1. Season the veal shanks with salt and pepper on both sides, dredge in the flour and shake off the excess.
2. In a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, cook the veal shanks in 2 tablespoons olive oil until golden on both sides, about 7 or 8 minutes in total. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Wipe the pot clean with a paper towel and reduce the heat to medium-low.
3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and stir in the onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir well with the vegetables to cook it a bit. Cook the mixture for 3 or 4 minutes.
5. Increase the heat to medium. Add the wine and let it reduce by half.
6. Add the veal back into the pot and nest the shanks in the vegetables. Add just enough chicken broth to come up to 3/4 of the way up the side of the meat, but do not cover them completely with the liquid.
7. Add the rest of the ingredients in the pot, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook, covered, for 90 minutes or until the meat is very tender. Check once in a while to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot. When the meat is cooked, if the sauce is too liquid, remove the meat from the pot and reduce it over high heat until it has the desired consistency. Remove the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, the orange and lemon peels before serving.
8. Serve the osso buco in warm plates, over a saffron risotto or polenta and sprinkle a bit of gremolata on top. Enjoy!

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