Monday, September 7, 2009

Ossobuco con Porcini - Veal Shanks with Porcini Mushrooms

Both my husband and I love ossobuco; the flavors of the tender meat that falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. We are most familiar with the classic Ossobuco alla Milanese which is cooked in white wine, broth, tomato and vegetables topped with an herb gremolata. Veal shanks can be cooked in many different ways, the main thing is to cook them very slowly with other flavorful ingredients to make them shine. After having ossobuco with porcini mushrooms recently in an Italian restaurant rated as one of the top ten in the United States I wanted to try the same version at home. (Side Note - my mother loved bone marrow and taught us that it is considered a delicacy in Italy. I never appreciated that when I was a child, but I understand fully now and savor the treat.)

Soak 1 ounce of imported dry porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Strain the porcini and reserve the water. Rinse the mushrooms under cold water and chop them roughly. Line a strainer with a double paper towel and train the porcini water to remove dirt deposits, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Dredge 4 to 8 veal shanks (2 to 4 pounds) cut about 2 inches thick in flour, shaking off excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter with 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. When butter and oil is hot (butter will start to foam) add the veal and cook until both sides are golden. Transfer the meat to a plate.

Add 1 large carrot and 2 celery stalks that have been diced to the skillet, and cook and stir until they are golden.
Add the porcini and stir into the vegetables.

Return the veal to the skillet and add 1 cup of dry Marsala wine. Cook until the Marsala is almost reduced.

Add 1 cup beef broth, 1 cup canned imported strained tomatoes, domestic tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes and the reserved soaking water. Bring to a boil, cover the skillet with the lid askew, turn heat down to low, and cook until the meat begins to fall away from the bone, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or so. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.

Serve with soft polenta, or orzo drizzled or not with saffron oil.

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