Thursday, May 26, 2011


On a stormy day like today - drops the size of raisins and thunder grumbly enough to whisk an egg - the last few weeks of salad and sorbets get drowned right out. Puddling home this afternoon with my soggy shoes soaking up my new dungarees, thoughts turned instead to winter cooking.

Shopping for supper beneath a summer tempest pours my pennies to one thing only: meaty meat. Thawing, fatty, hot, slow cooked MEAT drizzled with rich sauce. Drool. So, for a night wholly dedicated to watching How To Steal A Million from the sofa, it had to be osso bucco. Oh so boo coh dawling (Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole like it too).

It's cheap, it's scrumptious and it's perfect for a lazy night in sheltering from the downpour.


Serves 1 (well why not?)
Or duplicate for an impressive dinner party main course which won't break the bank.

approx. 200g osso bucco (veal shank)
1tbsp plain flour
50g/3 knobs salted butter
1/2 glass white wine
1 large shallot, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
handful tarragon
2 sprigs thyme
80g polenta
100ml water
50g lettuce, chopped or broken into 5 cm pieces (I used round, but gem is a great option)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4

Dust the osso bucco with the flour and place in a bowl. Heat up a knob of the butter in a frying pan. When it is sizzling, place the shank on each side for around 45 seconds until browned and lightly crisped.

Transfer the shank straight into a small roasting tin with the wine, shallots, garlic and herbs. Leave some of the tarragon for the lettuce. Cover the tin with foil and place in the oven for 1 1/2-2 hours until the meat is light pink and tender. Remove the foil and reduce the juices for 10 minutes.

While the juices are cooking, make the polenta. Boil up the water and pour in the polenta flour, whisking until thick. It will keep thickening, so once you've reached a sticky, but still wet consistency, take off the heat and stir in another knob of butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining bit of butter in a clean frying pan and add the lettuce and the rest of the tarragon. Braise until gently wilted and browning at the edges. The lettuce should still have a slight crunch. Remove from the heat.

Take the osso bucco from the oven.

Serve up the polenta in a warmed dish, placing the lettuce on top. Then lift the sweet and succulent shank from the roasting tin and put on to the polenta and lettuce. Pour over the reduced juice with the shallots and garlic, and garnish with thyme flowers.

Osso bucco works deliciously served with orzo, or for a more traditional Milanese version, cooked with tomato and served on risotto. Don't forget to eat the marrow from the bone!

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