Dorie Greenspan is on a worldwide tour 2010 promoting Around my French table (HMH Books) and has been swamped like a surfer caught in a large wave.
There is an interview in the works and I thought serving a couple of recipes from Around my French table would be like an Amuse-Gueule before the meal.
With the cold spell envelopping both Europe and our New York area, I picked a couple of homely dishes.
Today's recipe is Osso Buco à L’Arman (page 270):
Makes 4 servings
The Italians got to name this dish, but that doesn’t mean the French don’t make it regularly and make it their own. Osso buco, meaning “bone with a hole,” is the heart of this dish and also gives it its name. Cut crosswise from a veal shank, thick slices of osso buco are round, with meaty nuggets surrounding the central hole, which is filled with marrow — and treasured.
A gently braised dish, osso buco is often finished at the last minute with a shower of gremolata, traditionally a mix of garlic, lemon zest, and parsley. In this rendition, a recipe given to me by the late French artist Arman, the veal, simmered in an orange and tomato sauce, is served with rice beneath and nothing above. However, taking artistic license (something I’m certain Arman would have granted me), I top the veal with a gremolata that mimics the dish’s seasonings — orange zest, garlic, and minced basil (see Bonne Idée). Since you’ll only be using the zest, think about making an Orange and Olive Salad with the fruit.
A word on the veal: Because the meat around the bone doesn’t form a solid piece — the nuggets, encircled by connective tissue, press against one another like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle — it’s best to tie kitchen twine around the circumference of each slice to hold it neatly in place during cooking. If you buy your veal shanks from a butcher, the odds are he’ll tie the rounds without your even having to ask.
If you’d like to serve 6, add 2 more pieces of osso buco without making any other adjustments to the recipe — there’ll be enough of the delicious sauce to go around.
4 navel oranges, rinsed and dried
2 cups water
About 1/3 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (Arman used 2 teaspoons dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (Arman used 2 teaspoons dried)
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in tomato puree
5 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 chicken bouillon cubes, dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 veal shanks, sawed into 2- to 3-inch lengths (osso buco)
4 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced
Remove the zest from the oranges with a vegetable peeler, taking care not to get any of the cottony white pith. Pour the water into a saucepan, drop in the zest, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Lower the heat so that the water just simmers and cook for another 5 minutes. Set aside.
Put a Dutch oven or a very large oven-going skillet with a lid over medium heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and herbs and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, just to soften. Using scissors, reach into the can of tomatoes and snip the tomatoes into pieces. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, liquid included, the bouillon, and 2 tablespoons of the water in which the zest cooked — hold on to the rest of the liquid; you’ll need it later. Bring the sauce to a boil, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat, and let it simmer gently while you brown the veal.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Set a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and pour in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pat the veal dry and season sparingly with pepper. Working in batches if necessary, slip the pieces into the pan and brown them lightly on both sides. (If you’re working in batches, you’ll probably have to add more oil.) As each piece of meat is browned, lift it out of the skillet with a slotted spatula (let the fat drip back into the pan) and lower it into the simmering sauce.
Pour off the fat in the skillet and pour in the remainder of the liquid in which the zest cooked — reserve the zest. Turn the heat up and cook for a minute, stirring to get up whatever little bits of meat have stuck to the pan, then pour the pan juices into the Dutch oven. Add 8 to 10 strips of the zest to the pot (you can save the rest for pilaf and gremolata; see the Bonne Idées) and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix everything together as best you can — you won’t be mixing as much as gently sloshing, but that’s fine. Scatter the carrots over the veal.
Cut a circle of parchment paper or two circles of wax paper (it’s good to have a double layer) just large enough to fit inside the Dutch oven and lay the paper on top of the osso buco. Simmer for 5 minutes more, then settle the lid on the pot and slide it into the oven.
Braise the osso buco undisturbed for 2 hours, at which point the meat should be fork-tender. Carefully lift off the pot’s lid and the parchment paper and, with a large spoon, skim as much fat from the surface of the sauce as possible before serving.
Osso buco and rice is both perfect and traditional. In Italy, the dish would be paired with a saffron risotto, but Arman’s choice was rice cooked with orange zest, and it’s my favorite accompaniment as well (see Another Bonne Idée). If you’d like, prepare an orange-basil gremolata (see Bonne Idée) to sprinkle over the osso buco or to bring to the table for individual sprinkling.
Like most braised dishes, osso buco is a good keeper. You can make the dish up to 2 days ahead, chill it, and then reheat it gently on top of the stove or in a 325-degree-F oven. It can also be frozen: cool the dish (or the leftovers), pack airtight, and freeze for up to 2 months.
Orange-Basil Gremolata. While you can certainly make this from fresh zest, it’s foolish not to use the zest you blanched for the sauce. Pat the zest dry and finely chop enough of it to measure about ¼ cup. Toss the zest with 1 garlic clove, split, germ removed, and minced, 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil, salt (fleur de sel would be nice), and freshly ground pepper. You can make this about an hour or so before serving time, but keep it tightly covered with plastic wrap so that it stays moist.
Another bonne idée
Orange (or Lemon) Rice Pilaf. Because there’s a lot of orange zest left over from the veal, I usually use it to make this pilaf, but you can use lemon zest or a mix of orange and lemon zest. Set a medium saucepan over low heat and pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil. When it’s warm, stir in 1 onion, finely chopped, and about 3 tablespoons finely chopped orange zest (if you use the zest you cooked for the osso buco’s sauce, just pat it dry). Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Increase the heat to medium, add 1 cup basmati or other long-grain white rice, and stir it around until it is coated with oil, about 1 minute. Pour in 2 cups chicken broth and stir. Bring the broth to a boil, add a little more salt and pepper if you think it’s needed, and stir, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. (White basmati rice usually needs about 11 minutes, but rice varies, so check the package and, most important, the pan.) Remove from the heat, let sit for 2 minutes, and then fluff the rice with a fork. If you’d like, you can stir a little chopped fresh basil into the rice.
Unless you have time on your hands, it's a good dish to save for the week-end.
(* Recipe and photo by Alan Richardson reproduced courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the publisher)