Sunday, 9 March 2014

Veal Meat Again

Osso Buco Rustico con Zenzero & Spezie Aromatiche
Osso Buco with Ginger and Aromatic Spices

I don't eat a lot of meat, compared to most people- well, except for Vegetarians and Vegans of course ;-) , but every now and again I do like to indulge. And on days like these, on lazy Sundays when the first Spring sunshine has everyone out of the house, walking and working up a health appetite... including me... I even like to do something that takes a little more time. That way, I can take a nap whilst it's bubbling away!

"Osso Buco", which literally translates to "the hole in the bone", is the Italian name for a dish consisting of a shank of veal which is stewed in a sauce of Barolo and tomatoes until it is literally falling from the bone. It is an absolute classic of Italien cuisine and also happens to be totally delicious!

This evening, I decided to do a different version... lighter in the wine and tomato department but with a little ginger and spice, to take the flavor into a new direction... I know! I love tradition... and I love to eat traditional meals... but when it comes to cooking, I really love to innovate!

But fear not, for the spices I decided to use are nothing too weird- cardamom, fennel seed, coriander seed and cloves- nice, aromatic flavors which would work well with red wine. The other ingredients were also pretty classic- carrot, celery and onion- lovely young purple ones in this case, although regular onions will work just fine, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a chunk of ginger, a little parsley and as a side dish, some simple potatoes. 

Nothing to get too worked-up about... but at the same time, something to get pretty excited about later, when it is all cooked!

I started off by slowly bringing the veal shank to a gentle boil in ample water, skimming off the scum that collected on the surface, then pouring half of it away, so that the meat was just covered. The reason for this was that I would be adding some red wine of course and also with the added vegetables, the surface level of the water would be rising soon enough!

So, I added the carrots and celery, cut into slices and the stalks of the parsley cut very finely. I don't know why people throw the stalks away as that is where most of the flavor is- it drives me crazy! I also hate that people tend to use parsley "as a garnish" and don't actually eat it or factor it in as an aroma... we tend to appreciate it more in Italy!

Next, I ground up 2-3 cloves, a half teaspoon each of coriander, fennel and cardamom, then added a clove of garlic to my mortar and pestle and ground this all into a paste. I added the paste and a small glass of red wine, along with 5-6 coarsely diced cherry tomatoes and let the meat and vegetables simmer away gently for an hour or so.

After an hour, I added a good tablespoon of tomato paste and the 2 onions, cut into bite-sized pieces. These went in with pinch of sugar to help balance the acid of the wine and tomato paste, and on it simmered for another hour or so. This was only a small veal shank of course and a larger piece or a thicker slice would have taken longer... but I have to say that after 2 hours of gentle simmering this was already pretty good!

Still, I gave it an extra half hour and in the last 20 minutes I boiled up a few potatoes to serve as a side dish. Once they were cooked and tender, I cut them in half, added a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of parsley and an extra light pinch of salt... and as soon as that was done I was ready to serve... and starving!

This was a lovely, rich and comforting dish to enjoy whilst bidding the Winter farewell. The gentle and aromatic spices were lovely in combination with the red wine and the sweet and tender vegetables were wonderful- especially combined with the potatoes and the yummy red-wine sauce!

Go ahead and make this before the Springtime dishes start appearing! There's still time to enjoy- haha! 

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