Osso Bucco

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Will and I have had several “food adventures” together while travelling, trying new restaurants or in our own kitchen. We’re both pretty adventurous eaters, but there are a few things I won’t give in to (looking at you, soft shell crab) or that Will digs his heels in on (loves corn, won’t do hominy).  Every now and then one of us gets to introduce something new to the other.  A while back, Will introduced me to oxtails.

Oxtail is, quite literally, the culinary name for the tail of cattle.  It’s bony, gelatin-rich and typically either used for soups and stocks or in braised dishes. I picked these up at Greak’s Smokehouse, located at Froberg’s Farm in Alvin, but you can also catch them at your local meat market. We’re going the braised route today in Osso Bucco. The oxtails make for a rich, fatty base that is so scrumptious and special. Pair it with a simple side like rice, mashed potatoes or polenta to balance out some of the richness.

Osso Bucco itself is one of my favorite slow-cooked dishes.  It is traditionally made with veal, more commonly made with pork shank, but can most definitely be made with oxtails, beef ribs or beef shank.  It’s a pretty forgiving dish and a great one for Sunday afternoons when it can cook and develop the flavors for a few hours.  This is our take on Osso Bucco.  It’s a little less traditional and skips the tomatoes/tomato paste found in more modern versions.  We use red wine in the base so break out that bottle from the fridge that has just about a cup left in it. (That’s a thing, right?  An unfinished bottle of wine?)

Try this one out and let me know what you think!  What would be your meat of choice?


Osso Bucco

  • 1 lb oxtails, veal, beef ribs, or beef/pork shank
  • Olive oil
  • ¼ – ½ lb pancetta, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 T flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3-4 cups beef broth
  • 2-3 stems fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 stems fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 350.

Coat the bottom of an oven-safe pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Saute the pancetta until browned then remove from the pot, reserving the grease.

A quick note about pancetta:  we love it.  Basically because it is fancy bacon.  It is cured pork belly and has a slightly smoky taste, adding more depth of flavor to the Osso Bucco.  If you have ever ordered Carbonara at an Italian restaurant, you have most likely tried pancetta.  We get this pancetta at the deli counter at our local HEB, requesting about a quarter-inch thickness on the slices.  In most grocery stores you can also find some pre-diced packages of pancetta near your deli/cheese selections.  If you aren’t feeling the pancetta, or can’t get your hands on some, thick-cut bacon works just as well.

Here’s a before pic of the oxtails.  Looking lovely!

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Season the oxtails with salt and pepper then lightly coat each one with flour.

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Brown the oxtails for a couple minutes on each side in the reserved pancetta grease, adding a little olive oil if the pot is looking too dry to brown. Remove the oxtails from the pot and set aside.

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Toss the cooked pancetta, carrots, onion, shallot and garlic into the pot, adding a little more olive oil again if the pan is looking a little dry.  Saute the veggies until they begin to soften and brown.

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Add the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pot with your silicone or wooden spoon/spatula to loosen all the brown, delicious bits from the bottom of the pot.

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Let the wine cook down about halfway.  Place the browned oxtails back in the pot, nestling them in with the veggies.  Pour the beef broth in the pot until it covers about 2/3 of the meat.

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Tie the stems of fresh herbs together with some cooking twine.  This allows you to easily fish out the stems after they do their job of seasoning the broth.  You can also make a little pouch for the herbs out of cheesecloth.  Or, in a pinch, remove the leaves from both the rosemary and thyme stems, mince the leaves up and toss them directly into the pot without worrying about removing them later.

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Add the herbs to the pot.  Cover the pot and place it in the oven.

Bake for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Remove from the oven and discard the herb bundle.

Let rest a few minutes and enjoy!

Pictured below are two plating options: one shows a quick flour-based gravy made out of the pot juices and the other is straight from the pot.  Either way… doesn’t it look tasty?!


Full Recipe

Osso Bucco

  • 1 lb oxtails, veal, beef ribs, or beef/pork shank
  • Olive oil
  • ¼ – ½ lb pancetta, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 T flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3-4 cups beef broth
  • 2-3 stems fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 stems fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350

Coat the bottom of an oven-safe pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Saute the pancetta until browned.

Remove the pancetta, reserving the grease in the pot.

Season the oxtails with salt and pepper.

Lightly coat the oxtails with flour.

Brown the oxtails for a couple minutes on each side.

Remove the oxtails from the pot, set aside.

Add the cooked pancetta and chopped veggies to the pot.

Saute, adding extra olive oil if necessary, until veggies begin to soften.

Add the red wine, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Let the wine reduce by about half , then place the oxtails back in the pot, nestling in the veggies.

Pour the beef broth in the pot until it covers about ⅔ of the meat.

Tie the stems of fresh herbs together with cooking twine, or secure in cheesecloth.

Add the herbs to the pot.

Cover the pot and place in oven.

Bake 2 ½ – 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and discard the herb bundle.

Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta or rice.

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