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.

Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin Steaks, Green Beans with Bacon and Onions, Caesar Salad

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It’s just about Valentine’s Day.  Doesn’t Valentine’s Day always make you think of the great things you and your loved one do for each other?  Don’t the little things make your day feel big?  Indulge me a little as I think about the first Valentine’s Day Will and I spent together way back in 2008. It was the first “fancy dinner” Will ever made for me and it left a lasting impression… this guy can cook!  It definitely made me feel loved. This post is all about that first Valentine’s dinner with three recipes tucked into one post as my Valentine treat to you.

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What’s your favorite Valentine memory? I hope you enjoy one of mine and make this dinner – let me know who you make it for and how they enjoyed it!


Caesar Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp balsamic or dijon mustard
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ cup parmesan, shredded

The easiest way to mix this dressing up is in a blender or small food processor.  Simply add all the ingredients to your blender and process until smooth.  If the dressing seems a little thick, add about a tablespoon of  milk or cream at a time until you get the consistency you like best.  I must admit that we do prefer a thicker dressing.

Let me tell you about a few of the ingredients in this dressing:

First of all – don’t be scared of the anchovy paste.  It brings a salty, tangy flavor to the dressing that you can’t really replicate with anything else. We find the paste in a tube near the canned tuna in our  local grocery store.

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For the mustard, we use Turtlefly Fields Balsamic Mustard – a grainy, balsamic vinegar-based mustard.   You can also use a dijon mustard in this dressing.

Full disclosure, my sister and I started Turtlefly Fields a few years ago. We sell pickles and jellies at local craft fairs and Will gets in on the action with this Balsamic Mustard and a few other seasonings (as you will see below).  Come see us this March at Angleton Market Days!

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Finally, be sure to use a quality parmesan for this dressing.  Grate the parmesan fairly small to blend into the dressing, keeping in mind that this, along with the anchovy paste, will be your main source of salt for the  dressing.  Shave a few layers of parmesan to top your salad with as well.

The flavors of the dressing will develop as it sits so let is chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before you want to serve it.  The dressing will keep in the refrigerator up to a week.  If the dressing thickens up as it sits, loosen it up again in your blender or food processor with a little milk or cream.

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Green Beans with Bacon and Onions

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and rinsed
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled and halved
  • 4-5 strips bacon, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup raw sugar

Trim the green beans by snipping off each end – you did this with Grandma, didn’t you?!  Rinse them under cool water.

Steam the green beans until they are al dente, or still have a good bite to them.  Using my rice cooker, this typically takes about 12-15 minutes.

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This recipe calls for pearl onions, because that’s how Will made it for the that first Valentine’s Day.  To prepare the pearl onions, trim the top and bottom root areas and slit the skin of the onion down one side to easily peel off the papery skin.  Then slice the onion in half.  If you can’t find fresh pearl onions, check the freezer section – the peeling is done for you!

For this instance… we couldn’t find fresh or frozen pearl onions at our local grocery store. We went back to the produce section for the next best thing – shallots.

Saute the bacon on medium high heat until about halfway crisp.

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Add the pearl onions, or shallots, and about half the garlic.  Cook the mixture until the onions and garlic begin to carmelize.

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Add the rest of the garlic and the raw sugar.  If you don’t have raw sugar, use just a little less brown sugar.  Saute the mixture until the sugar begins to melt.

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Toss in the steamed green beans, coating with the bacon mixture. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.  Saute a few minutes until beans are as tender as you like them.

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These green beans are sooooo good and have become a staple in our menu rotation!


Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin Steaks

  • Tenderloin steaks, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches thick, trimmed
  • Steak rub or salt & pepper
  • 2 strips of bacon per steak
  • 2-3 T unsalted butter

You can adjust this recipe to as many steaks as you are cooking.  For our Valentine’s dinner… well, just two 😉

Season each side of the steaks with steak seasoning or salt and pepper. We use Turtlefly Fields Steak Rub.  Will makes this rub… and he is never giving up the recipe.  But, you can come see Turtlefly Fields at Angleton Market Days coming up in March!  We’ll sell you a jar or two!

Let the  steaks rest at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Lay a strip of bacon across a plate or cutting board, then lay another strip slightly overlapping to fit the width of the steaks.

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Season the bacon with freshly ground pepper. Wrap the sides of the steaks with the bacon, pepper side in.  Secure the bacon to the steak with a couple of toothpicks.

Line the bottom of a sheet tray with foil or parchment paper and place a rack on top. Place the bacon-wrapped steaks on the rack and bake at 275 until the steaks reach an internal temperature of 125 for medium-rare, about 45 minutes to one hour. 

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Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Brown the bacon around each side of the steaks.

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Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Sear each the top and bottom of each steak, a couple minutes per side.  Let rest a few minutes before serving.

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Pour a glass of wine and plate up this dinner for your Valentine!  Stay tuned… my favorite dessert to cap off this nice, romantic dinner is coming up!


Full Recipe

Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin Steaks, Green Beans with Bacon and Onions, Caesar Salad

Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin Steaks

  • Tenderloin steaks, trimmed
  • Steak rub or salt & pepper
  • 2 strips of bacon per steak
  • 2-3 T unsalted butter

Season each side of the steaks with steak seasoning or salt and pepper.

Let the  steaks rest at room temperature for a couple of hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 275.

Lay a strip of bacon across a plate or cutting board, then lay another strip slightly overlapping to fit the width of the steaks.

Season the bacon with freshly ground pepper.

Wrap the sides of the steaks with the bacon, pepper side in.

Secure the bacon to the steak with a couple of toothpicks.

Line the bottom of a sheet tray with foil or parchment paper and place a rack on top.

Place the bacon-wrapped steaks on the rack and bake until the steaks reach an internal temperature of 125 for medium-rare, about 45 minutes to one hour.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.

Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet.

Brown the bacon around each side of the steaks.

Sear each the top and bottom of each steak, a couple minutes per side.

Let rest a few minutes before serving.


Green Beans with Bacon and Onion

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and rinsed
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled and halved
  • 4-5 strips bacon, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup raw sugar

Steam the green beans until al dente, 12-15 minutes.

Over medium heat, saute the bacon until beginning to crisp, season with fresh black pepper.

Add the pearl onions and half the garlic and let the veggies begin to caramelize a few minutes.

Add the rest of the garlic and the raw sugar, tossing as the sugar begins to melt.

Toss in the steamed green beans, coating with the bacon mixture.

Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Saute a few minutes until beans are desired texture.


Caesar Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp balsamic or dijon mustard
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ cup parmesan, shredded

Blend ingredients together; adjusting seasoning as necessary.

Keep dressing stored in refrigerator, up to 1 week.