Have you ever tried a new food and fallen absolutely in love with it? Then wondered how on earth you had gone all your life without ever tasting it before? That’s what happened to me when I made pork osso buco for the first time.
Several days ago John stopped at our local Whole Foods on his way home from work. He was browsing the meat section when he noticed an unusual cut of organic meat priced very cheaply. We always prefer buying organic as it means humanely raised livestock with no antibiotics. Unfortunately, it’s usually priced very high, so this was basically a steal.
“Have you ever had pork osso buco?” he asked me over the phone.
I hadn’t, and even though John’s father owned an Italian restaurant when he was a kid, John realized that he had never tasted osso buco before either.
It turns out that osso buco is super easy to make in a slow cooker, and the meat is so tender and juicy, that it literally falls right off the bone.
Just look at that. Mmmm. Am I making you hungry? This would be perfect for a special holiday time dinner.
Osso buco is a traditional Milanese dish, typically made with veal. However, my daughter Nicole is studying Italian, and she informed me that “osso buco” just means bone with a hole. It refers to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut shank of meat.
I decided to prepare my osso buco the traditional way, braised in a white wine and vegetable broth. Braising means first searing the meat, and then letting it simmer in a covered pot for several hours on the stove until the meat is soft and succulent and gently falls away from the bone when cut with a fork.
The braising process can be quite time consuming so I decided to use a slow cooker for the second step as it can be left unattended. (If you are looking to invest in a high-quality slow cooker, I recommend this one by Hamilton Beach).
The morning that I planned to make the osso buco, I had been invited to a Christmas party brunch, so I got up early to prep the osso buco.
My pork shanks were tied with twine. I did not remove the twine until the very end of the cooking process when I was ready to serve them.
First, I dredged the shanks in flour (I used coconut flour to keep this recipe paleo friendly) and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Then I seared them in butter on the stove until the meat was golden (you can sear them in oil if you are dairy-free). This tenderizes the meat and adds an incredible depth of flavor.
Once the pork was seared, I put it in the slow cooker. I deglazed the skillet by adding wine and scraped up all the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. I poured that wine over the pork in the slow cooker. Those browned bits add even more flavor to the dish.
Next, I diced plum tomatoes in a shallow bowl and added them with their juices to the slow cooker along with bone broth (I had homemade bone broth in my fridge, but you can use gluten free store bought broth), diced garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. I also added some sage, oregano, and a bay leaf.
All that was left to do was pop on the cover and set the slow cooker on low for 7 – 8 hours.
After a lovely time with some special friends, I returned home to the most wonderful aroma of osso buco simmering in the slow cooker. I made some risotto which is the perfect accompaniment to this traditional Italian meal (I recommend the risotto from Lundberg Farms Arborio. It is eco-farmed and gluten free).
If you are following a low-carb diet you may want to serve seasoned cauliflower rice.
When it was time for dinner, I also made a gravy to accompany the osso buco along with a special gremolata topping.
First, I strained the juices from the slow cooker into a skillet (I mashed the veggies through the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible). Next, I skimmed the fat off the top of the gravy that was in the skillet. Finally, I simmered to reduce for about 10 minutes and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, just remove from the heat and stir in butter (you can skip this step if you are dairy free), and voila! A beautiful gravy ready in minutes.
And at last the gremolata! This is the traditional accompaniment to ossobuco alla milanese. It may sound really fancy, but gremolata is just chopped parsley tossed with lemon zest, garlic, and capers. And is amazingly delicious, I might add.
To make the lemon zest, you will need a microplane. Grate only the outer layer of the skin, rotating the lemon for just the zest and not the white pith which can be bitter.
And dinner is ready! Gluten free, paleo friendly, and scrumptious to the last bite.
Enjoy! Have a happy and healthy week, friends!
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- 2 pounds pork shank osso buco tied with butcher's twine
- 2 tablespoons of butter for searing the pork (or coconut oil if you prefer)
- 1 stick of butter for gravy, optional
- * 1 onion, diced
- * 1 stalk celery, diced
- * 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- * ¼ cup coconut flour.
- * 4 cloves garlic, minced
- * 3 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- * 1 cup bone broth, homemade or store bought
- * ½ cup white wine
- * ¼ teaspoon sage
- * ½ teaspoon oregano
- * salt and pepper to taste
- For gremolata:
- ½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 organic lemons, washed and dried
- extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup capers
- Rinse meat under cold water and dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Add flour to a shallow dish. Dredge seasoned pork in the flour.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. When the butter foams, add the pork to the skillet. Cook until golden, searing the meat for 4 minutes on each side and transfer to your slow cooker.
- Deglaze the skillet with the wine. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and pour into the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and their juices, bone broth, onion, carrot, garlic, celery, sage, oregano and a bay leaf. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
- Transfer the shanks to a plate, cover and set aside. Strain the juices from the slow cooker into your skillet. Mash veggies to extract liquid as much as possible. Skim the fat off the top of the gravy.
- Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in one stick of butter.
- For the gremolata: Zest the skin of both lemons. Add lemon zest, garlic, and capers to parsley and toss in a small bowl.
- Serve topped with gravy and gremolata.
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