Osso Buco – Braised Veal (or Pork) Shank

When I was little my dad used to go crazy for Osso Buco, which translates from Italian as bone with a hole in.  I just didn´t “get” it but I enjoyed dipping my bread in the sauce.  My, how times have changed.  I go crazy for it now as my dad did.  Like many dishes, it used to be a poor person´s meal, made from the sliced shank bone of a young (or otherwise) cow.  Of course, it´s now a rather grand restaurant dish and veal is more typically used. It´s not found that often on menus as it is a long, slow cooked recipe. It´s also often made with white wine and no tomato and served with a gremolata.  Naturally, I ignored all this and did it my way!

When I saw in our local supermarket that they were selling sliced pork shank bones, I snapped up two packs (there were four in each) and decided to give making this delicious dish a go.  If you´ve ever cooked oxtail, the process is pretty much the same.  I also found that it was best made a day ahead to allow the flavours to really develop and to also be able to remove any fat from the top of the dish before heating and serving.


  • To serve four people I used two fairly meaty slices of shank per person
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • Four carrots, peeled
  • 2 large sticks of celery cleaned and tough “strings” removed
  • Four fat cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of crushed tomato
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of tomato purée or concentrate
  • ½  a bottle of red wine
  • A bay leaf and about 5 whole peppercorns
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Flour for coating the meat
  • Seasoning

You will also need a deep heavy based (preferably oven proof) dish with a lid

Start by dealing with the vegetables. You can either finely chop or process.  I chose the latter as I wanted the vegetables to cook down to a thick sauce, but the choice is yours.

Season the flour and coat the pieces of meat in it, reserving any that is left over.  Cover the base of your cooking pot with oil and at a high heat, brown the meat on all sides and remove to a plate. Turn the heat down and add all the vegetables, make sure they are coated in oil then put the lid on and let them sweat gently until soft for about 10 minutes. Now stir in up to a heaped tablespoon of any left over flour, cook for a minute or two then add the crushed tomato, the concentrate and the wine.  Bring it up to a bubble and have a little glass of wine while you are waiting.

When it is bubbling away nicely, add the meat back into the pot, season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the bay leaf and peppercorns.  Cover the pot and either cook very slowly on the hob for about 2-3 hours or in the oven at the lowest setting for about 5 hours.  I prefer to use the oven as there is no chance of anything sticking to the bottom of the pot and I think the longer, slower cooking really does add something to the flavour.

The dish is done when the meat is making only a token gesture to hold on to its delicious centre bone.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

This is a real winter warmer dish and is perfect served with mashed or boiled potatoes or plain boiled rice or wet polenta.  Recommend you eat it with a fork and spoon as you won´t need a knife and you won´t want to miss any of that rich sauce. Fingers of course, are obligatory for sucking on the bones.


71 thoughts on “Osso Buco – Braised Veal (or Pork) Shank

  1. I agree. Everything tastes better the next day, this must be so tasty, i am a great fan of slow cooking, especially on my woodstove! This is a keeper.. c

  2. This is a great recipe, Tanya, one that I’ll definitely try. I agree that it is better served the next day, once the fat has been removed and the flavors really meld together. For me, though, having to smell that aroma coming from my oven all afternoon, only to store the food overnight, is torturous. Nothing I have for dinner that evening will taste nearly as good as what I’ve got stored away for the following day. It’s Foodie Hell.

  3. Osso Buco is just the ultimate gourmet, special meal to make for friends at a dinner party. It’s been swirling around in my mind for some time.. I think now I feel brave enough to try.. but, as John says, it would be “Food Hell” not to serve it right away!! xo Smidge

  4. Oh I’ve been wanting to try this with oxtail but never have the nerve. I recently saw oxtail in a local market so I guess I better just take the leap!

  5. Haha, I never knew it meant “bone with a hole in it” – I’ve actually never had Osso Buco before, though always wanted to try. It looks like a really warming, satisfying meal – I love the idea of it being so tender you can just eat it with a fork alone too!

  6. Hmmmm…just the recipe that I’ve been looking for. I love beef shanks especially after it has slowly cooked for hours. In the Philippines, we make a soup out of the beef shanks which just consists of boiling for hours with very basic spices.

    This is perfect this weekend and I will need a lot of rice to go with it. Yummy!

  7. This looks so good and though I’ve had it and loved it, I’ve never made it. I’ve also had leftover sauce on pasta which as you said, is delicious and even more so with Parmesan. I’m going to have to try this!

    1. Can recommend making it – it´s actually pretty straightforward and once you´ve done the prep, you can forget about it. Well…apart from the wonderful smells that will fill your kitchen 😉

  8. Oh, yummy yummmmmy yum! I love braised shanks that fall apart in their rich red-wine bath. I’ll keep this recipe handy for sure. Reminds me of a gorgeous braised lamb shank in a lovely Roehampton bistro . . . sigh . . . 🙂

      1. Yes, *that* Roehampton. R was doing a graduate conducting or choral literature workshop at the school there a few years ago for a friend and she took us and his co-clinician Bob Chilcott to that wonderful eatery. Still dream of that rosemary-wine cooked shank served on buttery mash. Ohmmmmm!

  9. Another dish I’ve never tried. Which is bizarre because this kind of slow cooked deliciousness is my idea of perfection. I vote for mashed potatoes to go with it! Lots of hot cream and butter mixed in. Hang the diet!

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