I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hale & Hearty

Winter abounds in Melbourne, with cold nights, cold toes, and a mighty wind to carry the last of the autumn leaves around. In Casa Verde we've been eating a fair amount of meat, notably lamb chops with the bone in (whose formal name escapes me.) The kids have discovered a great culinary delight - sucking the flavourful, gelatinous marrow out of the bones with a hearty SLURP! The collective daughters, in particular, have become particularly enamoured of this and will often beg and plead for yet more bones. The begging has resulted in me cooking the granddaddy of the marrow bone meats - Osso Bucco. I adore this cut, not only because it's absolutely delicious (and has plenty of marrow to go around) and super cheap to buy but also because it's pretty much a "fix it and forget it" type of dish.

I threw this in the oven late afternoon and then walked away, only to return about 90 minutes later because the heavenly smell was making me drool all over my keyboard. This has to be one of the best family meals we've had in ages...other than the sound of slurping and chewing and "mmm" the dinner table was all quiet as we knelt at the altar of this giant winter culinary cuddle.

I chose to serve this with a very wet polenta - all the better to sop up meaty juices with - but you could just as easily have eaten it as is.

Osso Bucco (recipe has been modified the emzeegee way)

5 pieces osso bucco
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper

50ml olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
100g tomato paste
500 ml beef stock
200 ml red wine
200g mire poix (mixed large dice of carrot, celery, onion)

Preheat oven to 170C. Make a few vertical cuts into the muscle surrounding the osso bucco pieces, effectively "releasing" the meat from the sinew which surrounds it. Season and then coat in flour. Shake off any excess flour. Heat the olive oil in a wide, deep pan, and brown each piece of meat on both sides. Remove from the pan and place meat into a casserole dish, preferably a large shallow one so each piece fits on the bottom. In the deep frying pan, saute the mirepoix and the garlic. Add the tomato paste and continue to saute until the vegetables start to colour.

Add the red wine and bring to the boil, then reduce the liquid by half. Add the stock and return to the boil. Carefully pour this mixture over the meat, so that the liquid comes 3/4 the way up the meat. Cover tightly (foil works) and place in the oven for 90 minutes, checking the liquid level half way though the time. If the liquid is very low, pour in some additional hot stock.

When the meat is tender, remove it from the oven - the meat should be falling off the bone.

If you're lazy: serve it as is, over the polenta (recipe follows).

If you're not: Remove the meat and vegetables. Place the casserole over a flame on the stove and reduce the liquid to sauce (coating) consistency. Serve the meat with a generous pouring of sauce and vegetables and a fine sprinkling of parsley and lemon rind.

Polenta at it's most basic
(these proportions produce a very wet polenta)

1 cup polenta (instant works well)
6 cups chicken stock

Bring the 6 cups of chicken stock to the boil. With one hand, tip the polenta into the liquid in a steady stream. With the other (and a wooden stirring paddle or whisk), mix the liquid. Continue stirring until the polenta has reached the desired consistency (in this case, not unlike oatmeal). Serve immediately.



Poppets mum said...

Sounds delicious - will it work without the red wine???? Let me know.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Hi PM,

Technically speaking, it will "work" but I think without the red wine you'll lose a fair amount of richness in the sauce. Because you boil a fair amount of it away, there is no alcohol taste afterwards, and you can pretty much use cheap plonk.

I made this again on the weekend and doubled the amount of tomato paste, added in a few roughly chopped tomatoes and a generous throw of oregano, which gave a really gorgeous Italian feel to it.