A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Pork Osso Buco and was about to link to a previous recipe before realising that it had never been written! I cook this quite often and was quite surprised that I’d never put pen to paper. Osso Buco is traditionally shin of veal, sliced across the bone, so you get a nice round piece of meat with a marrow bone in the centre. Osso buco quite literally means bone with hole. In Italy, where the dish comes from (and in other parts of Europe), veal is relatively cheap and shin of veal is one of the cheapest cuts. In the UK, however, a 1970’s documentary on young veal calves being taken to Holland in crates, caused an uproar and generations of British people have shunned veal (which means it’s quite expensive) ever since. Sadly, what people don’t realise, is that veal is a by product of the dairy industry. Male dairy calves are born 50% of the time and for decades most of these have been shot within a few days of birth because they are not beef cattle. However, all these veal calves could have a reasonable life if the British knew the full story. Rose Veal calves are slaughtered much older than a regular chicken, pig or lamb – which is considerably better than just a few days!
But I digress, Pork Osso Buco is the porcine equivalent of the traditional veal and it’s incredibly cheap! It also comes from the same pig as your Sunday roast, so there are less ethical issues. Yesterday I walked into the butcher at about 4.30pm and noticed that the already economical pork was reduced to £2.85 per kilo and it was free range! I hesitated for a second, it was 30ºC outside and the meat needed to be cooked for supper or frozen. I had no specific dinner plans and having already cycled up to Muswell Hill for work on Monday (in similar heat), I thought “carpe diem” – a couple of hours with the oven on is nothing!
I cook this regularly and adjust the vegetables relative to what is seasonal. In the winter that usually means leaving out the red pepper and courgette. As this contains tomatoes, it’s relative to a modern style Osso Buco, as opposed to the original Osso Buco Bianco recipe.
Pork Osso Buco:
1kg pork osso buco
3 slices smoked streaky bacon
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
a stick celery (chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 medium courgette (chopped)
1 red romano pepper (chopped) or a red bell pepper
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
a large squirt tomato purée
2 squirts anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
2 dessertspoons plain flour seasoned with sea salt, cracked black pepper and 1/2 teaspoons English mustard powder
a splash red wine vinegar
a small glass red or white wine
1/2 pint chicken stock
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Season 2 dessertspoons of plain flour with sea salt, cracked black pepper and 1/2 teaspoons English mustard powder. Dust the osso buco with the seasoned flour and brown it in hot olive oil, then remove to a plate.
Gently fry the onion in the same pan (ideally a cast iron casserole). You will need to add more olive oil. When the onion becomes translucent, stir in the chopped bacon and as soon as the bacon takes some colour, grate on 4 medium tomatoes (cut in half, grate the wet side then dispose of the skin).
Mix in the remaining vegetables along with the tomato purée, anchovy paste, herbs, pimentón, red wine vinegar, white wine and chicken stock. Taste to see if any additional seasoning is necessary. Stir in a dessertspoonful of the remaining seasoned flour to thicken the sauce. Add more spice with a pinch of chilli if you wish.
Return the osso buco to the pot, sink it into the liquid, put the lid on and remove to a preheated oven at 160º C for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender to a fork.
Serve with rice or potatoes – it’s particularly good with mash! You will notice that I added a few peas and broad beans to my plate. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Cerdo Rojo (Red Pig) from Catalunya, with your pork.