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Veal Osso Buco - Cooking, Eating

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
A couple of weeks ago I went out to dinner with a few friends - it had been a long time since I ate out and I wanted this to be special. I ordered the Osso Buco never having had it before, so I was unsure of what to expect. After the meal I felt that I didn't get my full money's worth, and started researching Osso Buco. Here's what I found:

The veal shanks, in all the pictures I saw, were lighter in color than beef shanks, and lighter in color than what I had for dinner. I cannot help but wonder if this Berkeley restaurant was being "politically correct" and providing beef instead of veal. The meat tasted like beef that I'd had before. Could there be "old" veal and young veal? FWIW, the menu said "Veal Osso Buco." For future information, is there a way to determine if the meat is veal or beef?

The Osso Buco came to the table pretty quickly, and tasted somewhat dry. I suspect the meat was prepared earlier and then just warmed over for table service. I also suspect that this happens frequently in many restaurants, and that, in and of itself is not a bad thing, and that the execution is the main consideration. Comments?

In reading about the dish, some articles suggested that the rear shanks contain more marrow, which, in my novice opinion, is part of what Osso Buco is about. I had three pieces of meat on the bone, and only one bone had marrow, and it did not go all the way through the bone. I feel as though I got shortchanged on the marrow. What should I expect?

Now I am determined to find a restaurant that serves good Osso Buco. What questions should I ask? What should I look for?

I also want to make some at home - any tips or suggestions? What to look for in good, high quality veal?

Thanks for any and all help.
post #2 of 17
I've always felt that Osso Bucco is a rip-off in the restaurant. Overpriced, underperformed and skimpy on the plate. But I also don't have access to the range of higher calibre restaurants many of you do.

It's at it's best as a home dish in my experience.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 17
Welcome back Shel.

Your best bet would be to ask the restaurant directly about the dish.

I suspect that if the braising liquid contains tomato paste that it may affect the color of the meat although probably not.

Good question - how can you tell if it's veal or just beef?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 17
I don't have anything to add to the thread other than I've had the same questions.

I really just wanted to say welcome back Shel - hope all is well.


Willie
post #5 of 17
Probably the easiest thing to do is judge the bone size.
Veal would be finer and have thinner walls. Beef would be thicker and bigger overall.

According to my cook daughter the marrow shrinks some when cooked. She has cooked and or plated alot of osso bucco.
post #6 of 17
For me anytime i see osso buco on the menu i order it..as far as was it precooked, unless u waited 2 1/2 hours to come to your table you can count on it being precooked a head of time and heated to order which is how i do it. some places hold it in a warmer or steam table. it was probably dry because they didnt cook it with enough veal stock and wine or they cooked it to long and all the liquid evaporated. as far as knowing if its beef or veal. i think are two different taste all together and you would know if your eating beef or not. I personaly never heard of anyone using beef for osso boco, ever. beef would be much darker as the veal would look dark pink. its a fantastic dish if executed proparly. the portions can be big or small it depends how the place orders it and how the butcher cuts it. Lamb, veal shanks, briskets, ribs and roasts have to be cooked a head of time, braising takes time to do it right, to make it tender, moist and fall off the bone,
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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post #7 of 17
Hey Shel how are you.?
I doubt if they gave you beef, but could be. Older veal is almost like beef as far as color and sometimes taste but is normaly a larger shank whereas younger veal shanks are smaller.
He also could have cooked them at to high a temp uncovered which would make them darker. A soup base added would also make them darker.
As far as dry, it sounds to me as if they were nuked instead of being heated in their own liquid. I use 1/2 veal and 1/2 chicken stock to make mine with a hint of fresh orange and herbs. You are better off making your own it is easy.
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post #8 of 17
Hi Shel,

I love Osso Buco! But I've learned to be very careful when ordering it. Even at some decent restaurants I've found it to be fair to very poorly done. The only exception I had to this is when I ordered it at Merlo on Maple, in Chicago.

Next time you see it on the menu...I'd leave it there and order something else, in most cases. Make it at home instead.

dan
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
So, if I never had the dish, how would I know if the bone size on the plate is "finer and thinner." I guess I'd have to carry some beef bones to the restaurant <LOL> Hmmm ... instead of wine one could bring the main course.:lol:
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
That seems like a good idea, Dan ... first thing to do is find a butcher who knows his veal. There are a few around here ... thanks!
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
All is well ... I'll be back and forth a bit over the next few months. Thanks!
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
I never had osso buco before, never had veal except for the cutlets my mom made, so I really have no point of reference. I'd have to taste good veal alongside good beef to understand the difference. As for the color, that was one of my questions. The meat looked too dark to be veal compared to the pictures I've seen.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Things are good, Ed ... I'm coming to the same conclusion about making it myself. Over the past week or so I've been reading a little about veal (ordered a beef/veal cook book) and once I find a good source for veal, I'll try the dish. There are, it seems, a nember of variations, so finding one to start with would be my second priority, after finding excellent veal.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
The restaurant manager swears it was veal, and I don't doubt her. However, even with my limited knowledge of the dish, and of veal, it's safe to say it was probably not the best quality veal and it was poorly prepared.
post #15 of 17
The restaurant manager swears it was veal, and I don't doubt her. However, even with my limited knowledge of the dish, and of veal, it's safe to say it was probably not the best quality veal and it was poorly prepared. SHEL


With veal being so expensive these days, be careful when you order cutlets outside in restaurant. Many places are useing boneless pork loin as veal. Veal cutlets when breaded and fried really have a neutral taste. IN FACT IN MANY CASES THE PORK IS TASTIER.
They cut the pork very thin then pound it like veal then flour ,egg and bread it and there you go. The real class places are not doing it , but the cheaper and moderate places are.:talk:
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post #16 of 17
Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes (alright, a lot of the time) grain feed calf is passed off as milk feed veal. That can explain colour "intensity."

--Al
post #17 of 17
Judging from your description....it sounds as if you got multiple pieces of
foreshank, cut thinner....you always want to use hindshank....I suggest 2 1/2"
cut....which will end up being 18 to 20 ounce pieces....you will get a nicer thicker bone with much more marrow in it as well.....its really an italian version of pot roast....usually braised with your predictable aromatics....carrot, celery, onion......garlic, tomato, veal stock, white wine, etc. What would be classified as an inferior piece of meat becomes a wonderful meal......it just takes time and care......I usually try and braise for 4 to 6 hours......you will never get osso bucco made to order...the best you can hope for.....is that it comes out of the oven before service and never hits the refrigerator......usually comes with risotto milanese and is topped with a simple gremolata of anchovies, parsely, lemon zest, and garlic......a utensil for the marrow is traditional....can be dual ended.....pretty classic dish.....I have cooked a few thousand.....sadly, its falling out of grace in many restaurants....its just to heavy.....truly a winter meal......good luck....and don't worry.....if you had had a beef shank....it would have been pretty large......ox or beef tail can be prepared the same way....only use red wine....almost as if your braising lamb shanks.....good luck!
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