I’ve loved osso buco since I first discovered it in Milan 15 years ago. Traditionally made from veal shanks, the name translates roughly to “bone hole,” which I suspect refers to the tender meat falling off the bone after a long, slow braising.
Over the holidays, I enjoyed this dish over pappardelle (a sumptuous noodle about two times the width of fettuccini) in an Italian restaurant in Montclair, NJ, where amazing Italian food seems to grow on trees. I recreated it using pork shoulder, since I don’t feel particularly good about using veal.
1 cut of pork shoulder (10-12oz)
1 T olive oil
2 C mirepoix (diced onion, carrots and celery)
3 C chicken stock
12oz dry red wine (or a nice hoppy beer)
1 t dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (to taste)
1 lb dry pappardelle
Optionally, salt the pork shoulder using a Himalayan salt block (or your own method).
Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. Sear the pork shoulder on high heat for two minutes on each side, then set aside in a dutch oven or slow cooker.
Add the mirepoix to the pan, reduce heat to medium and sautée until tender and brownish (4-5 minutes), adding more olive oil if necessary. Remove the vegetables and toss on top of the pork shoulder. Deglaze the pan with wine (or beer) and bring the liquid to a boil, then bring the heat to low and simmer until reduced by about half.
Now pour the wine/beer reduction and the stock into to the slow cooker or dutch oven, tossing in the oregano and bay leaf. The liquid and veggies should cover the pork shoulder completely.
Set the slow cooker to high, cover and cook for 3-4 hours. If you’re using a dutch oven, cover and cook in a conventional oven for 2-3 hours at 350°
To check for doneness, scrape the meat gently with a fork. If it falls off the bone, it’s ready.
Cook the pasta to al dente following package instructions. Toss the pasta with the veggies and some of the remaining liquids and meat. Plate each dish with the pasta, then a nice chunk of pork, some shaved parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper.
Traditionally, Italians top this dish with gremolata, but I feel the strong flavors stand on their own and don’t really require it.