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Tyler Florence’s California Osso Buco with a Classic Gremolata

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         When I started cooking Osso Buco, it was a sumptuous meal on a beer budget.  The Veal Shanks at the center of the dish were afterthoughts at the butcher’s counter.  It’s hard to imagine but I think they ran about $4.99 a lb. at most.  Andrew is fond of pointing out that I have no concept of how many years ago that was and that in 25 years almost everything is more expensive. But, like fresh tuna, which at one point was practically given away, the huge popularity of this Italian masterpiece has upped its price mightily.   Osso Buco means ‘bone with a hole in it’ and it’s gotten to be a very expensive bone.  But it’s a triumph of taste—the meat is tender to the bone, the sauce is filled with fresh vegetables stewed to perfection in red wine and tomatoes—even the marrow in the center of the bone is a guilty pleasure.   The recipe hails from Lombardy, the region that’s home to Milano, where it is classically served atop risotto.  Since risotto needs constant attention until the minute it is served, I use mashed potatoes instead.  Because I find Osso Buco is one of the greatest ideas for weeknight dinner parties.  We were entertaining my nephew, Michael and his wife, Valery who were here from Canada.   Leaving out the risotto meant I could spend all the time I wanted with them and then take all of about 5 minutes to mash the potatoes.   Like so many other braised dishes, this one too improves considerably when left a day or three in the fridge.  So it’s perfect to make over on a Sunday afternoon to serve later in the week.  I’ve published a recipe for Osso Buco before. So why is this one here?

        Tyler Florence, whose recipe for California Osso Buco this is, used to be the House Beautiful Foodie in Residence. And that’s where I found this recipe. The Chef, who is one of my all-time favorites, is best known for his “Ultimate” Recipes. The “Ultimate” Mac and Cheese, the “Ultimate” Fried Chicken—his Ultimate recipes number over a hundred.   I’d call this the Ultimate Osso Buco except that he didn’t.  And in all honesty, I had to read and re-read the recipe to figure out what made it Californian.  It has every ingredient of my Italian recipe although it switches out the orange peel and replaces it with a brilliant flash of lemon flavor.  It uses San Marzano tomatoes, the Italian standard for great tomatoes.  But the Gremolata is more complex.  The classic citrus peel and parsley has been elevated with the addition of pine nuts, a single anchovy filet and some garlic.  Don’t be tempted to omit it.  It adds the finishing touch to the dish.  But still, what makes this Californian?  Turns out the entire descriptor hinges on using a whole 750 ml bottle of California Zinfandel.  And can I tell you something else?  I didn’t have any on hand but I have a wine cellar full of Super Tuscans.  So this intensely delicious dish isn’t really Californian at all…unless you count the lemon and the orange.  Here’s the recipe:

4 thoughts on “Tyler Florence’s California Osso Buco with a Classic Gremolata”

  • Monte
    You are my favorite food writer. You pick great recipes. You take great pictures. And your copy is fun to read. If I only had time to make all the stuff I read about.

    Thanks for all your hard work.

    Sasha Grutman

  • Dear Sasha,make my day, why don't you? How wonderfult o know that you like the blog. I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear that people like you like what I do. I try to pick the best of the best and I love to educate and entertain. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me that it's all worthwhile. All best, Monte

  • Monte, this one? It's gotta be on the top ten, you are the best! Thank you once again, my weekend meal shall be spectacular. Now I get to go play and see what choices for potatoes you offer in lieu of mashed. I'll probably go with mashed but I feel like really feasting! C:

  • I can't wait to make this! We're cooking an Italian dinner that was an auction item at a fundraiser. I know this will be great, because I've never made any Tyler Florence recipe that didn't turn out great. He's my go-to chef! B.

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