Osso Buco: An Introduction

Just over two years ago, on December 27, 2006, I had Osso Buco for the first time. I was in Naples, Florida with my family visiting relatives for Christmas. On the 27th we went to an Italian restaurant to celebrate my aunt’s birthday and it was there I had Osso Buco.

Osso Buco? What’s that? Braised veal shanks. OK, veal sounds a little weird. Isn’t that baby cow? Yep, and traditionally these baby cows are fed a diet of milk rather than grain or hay and are only allowed to exercise very little, which causes the meat to remain tender and light in color. You can read more about it here

veal-cuts

Osso buco is made from the foreshank of the calf.

The special thing about Osso Buco isn’t just the tender veal meat, though, but also the marrow inside the bone.  The cut of meat used in Osso Buco is a 3-inch slice from the foreshank of the calf, so you get a piece of meat enveloping a cross-section of marrow-filled bone. Even the name of the dish points to the prized marrow, as Wikipedia informs meOsso Buco literally means “hole bone” (osso ”bone,” buco ”hole”). Osso Buco is served with a long-handled little spoon so the diner can scrape every last bit of marrow from the bone.   

bone-marrow-spoon

Notice how both ends of the marrow spoon are designed for use, allowing you to scrape out every last bit of bone marrow goodness.

In an effort to give you a well-rounded education about veal, I feel it my duty to inform you that veal is also a very controversial meat. Google “veal” and you will discover countless websites objecting to the inhumanity of raising calves for veal meat. The veal industry, however, is not without its reply.   

Whether you decide veal or no veal — do visit Runner Beans again for the second and third parts of this series on Osso Buco.    

 

Photo credits: Veal cuts: Encyclopedia Britannica online. Marrow spoon: Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary exhibit

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