Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Shank You...Shank You Very Much

I'm always looking for interesting foods to try.  So on a visit to Costco the other day, I noticed something I had never seen in the meat section.  Veal shanks.  It was a pretty exciting discovery, since most of our local grocery stores never uncover anything interesting.  I usually go to Whole Foods or Fresh Market if I'm in the need for something exotic (though we do have a lot of cool International food markets in Memphis I need to check out).

I have no idea what to do with a veal shank.  The last time I ate veal, I was so disturbed by the fact that it was a baby cow, that I just never had an urge to try it again.  Until now.  And I must cow is yummy.  That's right PETA...I said it.  But don't get your panties in a bunch.  I, in no way, shape, or form, condone cruelty to animals.  But I am in love with peasant food.  I have a strange desire to eat like people used to eat in the old country.  From the land.  So although I don't have a calf farm, I still love to recreate dishes that I imagine were cooked for hours on end by old ladies with gray hair down to their butts.  Old ladies that would beat you to death with a wooden spoon if you ever questioned their cooking ability.  Mean ass old ladies.  The original bitches in the kitchen.

I've seen Osso Buco on many menus, so I gave it a whirl.  There are literally thousands of ways to cook it.  So I took ideas from a few different recipes, based on what I like, and recreated my own.  So if you're going to chastise me for not making this 100% authentic, please do, so I can laugh at you.  I never claim to be a chef...but a bitch?? that's a different story.

~ 4 veal shanks (I tied mine with kitchen twine, but don't waste your time, 'cuz it'll still taste fine, if you leave that step behind...yes, that all rhymed).
~ Flour
~ Salt & Pepper
~ 4 tbsp. of Olive Oil and 1 tbsp. of butter
~ Small Onion, diced
~ 2 carrots, diced
~ 2 stalks of celery, diced
~ 4 cloves of garlic, minced  
~ 1 cup of white wine
~ 2 cups of chicken stock (I used homemade, because I'm cool like that, but store bought will be just fine).
~ 2 sprigs of rosemary, 2 sprigs of thyme and a handful of parsley

Preheat oven to 350.  Pat the shanks dry and salt and pepper generously.  Flour both sides of the shanks and pat off excess.  Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until very hot.  Brown the veal shanks on both sides (about 6-8 minutes per side).  Remove shanks.  Add in onion, celery and carrot and cook for about 6 minutes until tender.  Add in garlic and cook for another minute.  Add in wine and scrape up all the bits of badness (and by badness I mean goodness).  Cook for about 5 minutes, reducing the sauce by half.  Add in chicken stock until shanks are just about covered.  Add in herbs and cover pot.  Place in oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Check it every 30 minutes to make sure your liquid isn't evaporating too quickly and add more if it is.  You'll know it's done when the meat is fork tender.

This dish is traditionally served with risotto or polenta and I just so happened to have polenta, so that's what I served it with.  I sauteed the polenta cakes in olive oil and grated some Parmesan cheese on top.  Then I put a shank on top of the polenta and added some of the juice.  I also sprinkled it with a bit of gremolata to keep it more on the traditional side. 

So, cheers to you, baby cow.  Oh wait, you're not even old enough to drink yet!  Ok then, word to ya Moo-ther!??  Ok, I'm going to just end on that stupid joke :-)

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