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My third Ossobucco memory

May 30, 2011

My first memory of Ossobucco – the hole in the bone –  is Kevin Kline in “A fish called Wanda” when he exhibits his cunning linguist skills and speaks Italian, French and Russian (I think)

Jamie Lee Curtis is aroused by the italian speaking ex-CIA agent who is so stupid that he doesn’t realise he’s stupid !

"È molto pericoloso, signorina.
Molto pericolo... 
- Carissima. 
- Oh, speak it. Speak it!
Un ossobuco milanese con piselli. 
Melanzane parmigiana con spinaci. 

- Dov'è la farmacia? 
- Yes, yes, yes!"

I was 18 when I saw the movie and I wished I knew how to make Ossobucco milanese con (or sin) piselli.

Ossobucco in a plate

The second memory occurs 12 years later when I prepared my first ossobucco. It was not to impress Wanda but to make a useful use of those juicy veal shanks on display in the former Grambogård butcher’s refrigerated shelves. I got really into Ossobucco preparing almost once a week. By the end of this period the butcher knew what I was going to ask him for from the moment I stepped in the shop : 5 slices of 4cm thick cross-cut veal shank cut in the upper thigh (where there is a higher proportion of meat to bone).

During this period I was very faithfull to a complicated recipe. I have then simplified and perfected it. This makes it my third ossobucco memory !


  • 4 slices ossobucco (veal shank) with marrow
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small leach (not necessary but gives a nice touch and contributes to the consistence of the sauce)
  • 3 gorgeously ripe tomatoes or 1 can peeled / chopped tomatoes
  • The juice of 1 orange or a glass of good OJ
  • 1 celery (leaf celery, not root celery)
  • 4 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 1 glass of salted anchovies (optional but tasty)
  • 2 glasses dry white wine – I use Muscadet sur lie or Sylvaner but any dry white wine will do
  • parsley
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Flour to sprinkle over the shanks
  • 5 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground white pepper (black will work fine as well)

Serves 4

  • Peel, wash and rinse the vegetables
  • Make a few cuts on the side of each peace of shank. it will prevent them from curling when heated up (like bacon)


  • Finely slice the leach, slice the onion,the celery, the carrots and the tomatoes
  • Wash and chop the parsley
  • Mash the anchovies in their oil
  • Zest the orange and cut in fine strips (use a zester or a knife)
  • Press the orange.
  • Warm the oil up in a large pot – I use a large, older enameld cast iron   “Bouillabaisse”  pot   from le Creuset
  • Dip the shank in flour and brown them one by one in the pot until they have a nice golden colour. Add more oil if necessary.
  • Put all the shank slices back in the pot and add the onion until coloured.
  • Add the leach, the celery, and the tomatoes.
  • Add the OJ, the wine, the sugar and the zests.
  • Put all the cloves garlic in a tea bag and in the pot because we’ll need to fish them up later on…
  • Add  a pinch of salt
  • Cover and cook at low-heat for 60 mins.
  • after one hour take the garlic out and press the flesh out of the envelope – it will have a fantastic nutty taste – and mix it with the anchovies, the parsley and the tomato concentrate.
  • Stir in the mix and add salt if needed.
  • Cook at low-heat for 30 min.
  • Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve…
Enjoy !

Remarks :

There is mainly to types of ossobucco recipes. A modern one which has tomatoes and an original one that doesn’t. the older version : ossobucco in bianco is often flavored with cinnamonbay leaf and gremolata.

If the slices are too large for one person , make them serve two.

If you use a zester remember not to press to hard or you’ll zest the layer underneath – the pirth – which is very bitter !

A fantastic recipe which will yield a savoury and tender meat, almost “candied” vegetables and a sirup-like sauce without being too much !

feel free to adapt the recipe to the ingredients you have :  Anchovies, celery, carotts and leaches can all be omitted or replaced by what you have at hand !


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