Even though I have a tiny apartment, I LOVE entertaining. I can’t help wanting to make people dinner, even if it means a sometimes cramped setting for my guests. I’m constantly inviting others over for meals, and especially if it’s someone who shows interest in my hotplate! Last night, we had an intimate dinner party of four and I wanted to impress. I’ve been into sweet potatoes lately (see the previous ravioli post) and wanted to use them in some way, but I also needed to make something that could cook by itself for a while as we got ready. I decided on an easy osso buco from Giada de Laurentiis and although it took 4 calls to butchers, and two different trips to the store to find veal shanks, it was worth it! I made this version once before in a real kitchen, so I was glad the recipe worked just as well on the hotplate and in a toaster oven. The meat was so tender it fell right off the bone and it was wonderful served over the sweet potato puree. The meal was topped off with a delicious tiramisu, which was perfect even if it wasn’t completely thawed. Definitely a meal for a special occasion!
Easy Osso Buco with Sweet Potato Puree (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis)
Kitchen twine, for tying the veal shanks
4 whole veal shanks (about 1/2 pound per shank), trimmed
Salt & Pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 c. dry white wine
3 c. chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pat dry the veal shanks with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.
In a large Dutch oven pot, heat oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan in batches and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.
In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt and pepper to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add the wine and reduce liquid by half. Return browned shanks to the pan and add the chicken stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 45 minutes. Cover the pan with tin foil and place in the oven for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is falling off the bone. Make sure to turn the shanks every 30 minutes and check the level of cooking liquid—it should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.
Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and cut off the kitchen twine and discard. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Serve the shanks over the sweet potato puree and pour the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks.
Sweet Potato Puree
3 medium sweet potatoes
½ tbsp. butter
salt & pepper
4 tbsp. braising liquid from the osso buco
Peel and chop the potatoes and place in a pot of cold water. Boil the potatoes until tender and drain. Puree using an immersion blender. Add the butter, salt & pepper, and the braising liquid and blend to combine. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
The evening's appetizer: Goat Cheese and Tomato tartlets