Braising transforms a cheap, tough
piece of meat into a meltingly tender, rich, succulent dish.
Technically, to braise means to cook something slowly in a little liquid,
usually having seared the item in hot fat first and using the cooking liquid as
the final sauce. Pot roast and beef stew, lamb shank, "osso buco" and oxtail are
One handy trick is to cover the braising meat with a parchment paper, pressed
right down onto the surface of the liquid. The paper absorbs some of the fat,
which helps keep the surface of the meat moist. At the same time, it allows some
reduction in the liquid that will become the meatís sauce.
But those elements are all a matter of your mood on any particular day. What is
constant is the braise itself - the slow transformation of scraps into treasure:
true alchemy in the kitchen.
Italian Osso Buco
3 lbs. veal shanks
salt and pepper
1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 T. garlic minced
12 whole peeled shallots
2 C. white wine
juice of two oranges
1 t. dijon mustard
4 C. beef broth
4 roma tomatoes roughly chopped
2 T. tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 oz. butter
Season veal shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and
saute veal shanks until brown on all sides. Remove meat from pan and reduce heat
to medium. Add garlic and shallots, saute briefly.
Add white wine, orange juice and dijon mustard, reduce by half. Add the beef
broth, tomatoes, fresh herbs and tomato paste. Return the veal shanks to the
pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very slow simmer and cook for 1 1/2
to 2 hours or until meat pulls away from the bone.
Remove the shanks from the pan and return the juice to a boil. Gradually add the
butter until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with Gremolata: combine and process 3 large garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon
lemon zest and 1/2 cup fresh minced parsley until it is finely minced.
Stir into the broth just before serving, 3 Tablespoons of the gremolata.