Osso Buco: A Recipe

 Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

 lamb-shank-blogWhile this isn’t strictly Osso Buco because it is made with lamb shanks rather than veal shanks, it comes pretty close. This is a project that takes an entire afternoon (about 4 hours) but is well worth the time invested. Once again, this recipe comes from my family’s current favorite cookbook: The Gourmet Cookbook, a collection of recipes from Gourmet magazine.  

 For Lamb Shanks
4 lamb shanks (about 1 pound each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 (750-mililiter) bottle full-bodied red wine, preferably Bordeaux
4 cups chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 fresh thyme sprigs

For Gremolata
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
3 garlic cloves, minced

For Beans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked white beans (preferably Great Northern or navy), rinsed if canned
2 to 2 ½ cups chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Turkish bay leaf or ½ California bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Finishing Sauce
3 fresh tarragon sprigs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


The lamb shanks are cooked two different ways: first they are braised, then they are stewed in stock, wine and vegetables. These lamb shanks are halfway there -- they've been braised.

Make the Lamb Shanks
            Pat lamb shanks dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown shanks well all over, in batches, 5 to 8 minutes per batch, and transfer to a plate. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and sauté until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir in stock, tomato paste, and thyme and return shanks to pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring and turning shanks occasionally, for 1 ½ hours.

Uncover pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb shanks are tender, about 1 more hour.


The basic vegetables for the dish -- carrots, celery, onions and garlic -- are used in both the liquid in which the shanks are stewed and in the white beans. Here the vegetables are coarsely chopped for the stew.

Meanwhile, Make the Gremolata
Stir together gremolata ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.

Make the Beans
            Heat oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beans, 2 cups stock, butter, and bay leaf and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and adding remaining stock as necessary to keep beans moist, until they have reached a creamy consistency, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf and stir in half of gremolata and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

When lamb shanks are tender, transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered with foil. Strain braising liquid through a sieve into a saucepan, discarding solids, and stir in butter and tarragon. Boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly. Strain sauce through sieve into a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sprinkle lamb shanks with remaining gremolata and serve with beans and sauce.

Recipe also available on Epicurious.com.

3 Thoughts on “Osso Buco: A Recipe

  1. limeandlemon on January 20, 2009 at 7:37 AM said:

    yummy .. this looks really good ..i love the photos .. Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com/

  2. Deanna on January 22, 2009 at 8:58 PM said:

    Wow! This is really impressive. I enjoyed the mini-lesson on Osso Buco that you’ve given. I wish we could have been there to enjoy this delicious looking meal with you!
    Talk to you soon,

  3. andrealein on January 22, 2009 at 9:10 PM said:

    Laila: Yes, it is quite delicious — I hope you have a chance to make it sometime. And I am so glad you love the photos!

    Deanna: Wish you could have been with us too! Someday when we’re together we’ll have to make it. :)

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