Elegant Osso Buco Recipe

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home". She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated".

Osso Buco

Savory Osso Buco

Savory Osso Buco

Have you ever tasted pot roast so succulent that it filled your mind with haunting strains of Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra, overwhelming you with the euphoria of a climber who's just reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro? What was that? No, did you say? Then you haven't tasted Italy's famous comfort food osso buco.

What qualifies a dish as "comfort food"? Perhaps it evokes memories of pleasant times past, such as Sunday supper at Grandma’s house. The answer also depends upon where you were raised. In Britain, one might think of a creamy shepherd’s pie, in France a saucy Beef bourguignon and in Italy an osso buco. What do these dishes have in common? All are meaty, robust and flavorful.

What is osso buco? Literally meaning “bone with a hole”, it refers to the marrow hole in the center of the bone. But don’t be intimidated by the exotic-sounding name. Actually a simple meal, it’s very similar to American pot roast in ingredients and method. Both include the following three elements: an inexpensive/tough cut of meat, aromatics and/or vegetables and some type of liquid. And both employ the same foolproof technique for tenderizing a tough cut of meat: braising.

Simply put, braising is a dry and moist heat cooking method familiar to any home cook who has prepared a pot roast. So are you ready to crank up pot roast a notch? Are you ready for a meal that's easy, yet elegant enough to make your guests feel special? Then osso buco is for you!

So how do you prepare osso buco? Start with a shank from a young animal, usually veal or lamb, chosen from the top portion of the thigh where there is a higher proportion of meat to bone. Then add carrots, celery and tomatoes, a few herbs and several glugs of wine and you'll have an unforgettable meal. I highly recommend garnishing with gremolata, a fancy word for a tasty condiment of equal parts lemon peel, garlic and parsley. It's like pot roast on steroids! Before serving, osso buco can be nestled in a pool of risotto, pasta, polenta or my favorite, mashed potatoes.


  • Use a thick-walled pot for searing and braising.
  • If the lid isn't tight-fitting, line with aluminum foil to prevent loss of cooking liquid.
  • Choose shanks 1 ½–2 inches thick, about 8–10 ounces each.
  • Allow meat to sit on the counter for about half an hour before searing, so that it returns to room temperature.
  • Season with salt and pepper before searing on medium-high.
  • The two keys for a perfect sear are: Don’t crowd the meat, and be patient! Sear for about 3 minutes on each side, allowing the sugars to caramelize and a crust to form.
  • If you’re concerned about an attractive presentation, tie the meat to the bone. If cooked properly it will be fall-off-the-bone tender.
  • If you prefer not to use the oven, simmer shanks on the stovetop. Check periodically to make sure liquid doesn't boil out.
  • If you don’t like the sharpness of garlic in the gremolata, substitute orange peel.
  • You could also substitute lamb shanks for the veal. If you choose to cook with lamb, substitute white wine for the red wine listed in the recipe.
  • Don't forget to enjoy the marrow! Considered a delicacy, it can be scooped out and eaten as-is or spread on bread.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

2 hours 30 min

3 hours

Serves 6

Savory Osso Buco Recipe


  • 6 veal shanks, 8–10 ounces each
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive or peanut oil
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • OR 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary (dried or fresh), minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (dried or fresh)

To finish the sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried

For the gremolata:

  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • Zest of one lemon (or strips of lemon peel, minced)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed


  1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit or 180 celsius.
  2. Pat veal shanks dry with paper towels. Tie the meat to the bone with twine, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat oil until smoking. Add shanks and brown on all sides. Remove shanks and set aside.
  4. Add chicken broth and deglaze, scraping up delicious bits of meat. Pour broth into a bowl and reserve.
  5. Lower heat to medium. Add onions, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about five minutes.
  6. Add wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Season with more salt and pepper. Return browned beef shanks to pot, as well. Add enough of the broth so the liquid covers about 2/3 of the shanks. Reserve the rest of the broth for later use.
  7. On medium heat, bring shanks to a simmer.
  8. If the lid isn't tight-fitting, cover pot with aluminum foil and then lid. Place in preheated oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Check meat first at 1 1/2 hours. If not fork-tender, continue checking every half an hour until ready to serve. Keep adding liquid so it always covers shanks 2/3 of the way up.
  9. While shanks are braising, combine minced parsley, lemon peel and garlic to make the gremolata. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  10. Remove tender shanks from pot, set aside on a plate. Cut off twine and cover shanks with foil.
  11. Add 1/2 teaspoons oregano to pot and simmer broth/wine until it is reduced slightly. Salt and pepper to taste. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice to brighten the sauce and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
  12. To serve: spoon mashed potatoes onto a plate or shallow bowl. Top with beef shank, drizzle reduced sauce over the top and finish with a sprinkling of gremolata.

Buon Appetito!

© 2012 Vespa Woolf


Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on May 27, 2013:

moonlake, it's such an elegant alternative to pot roast. Thank you for the pin and vote!

moonlake from America on May 26, 2013:

This sounds so good. I have never had it. Thanks for sharing I will pin this to my recipe board. Voted up.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on December 31, 2012:

Peggy W, I'm happy to hear that you're going to enjoy Osso Buco tomorrow! It really is an elegant and delicious dish. Leave it to the Italians to come up with a dish that looks as beautiful as it tastes. Enjoy! Have a wonderful time.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 31, 2012:

Just dropped in again to say that we will be enjoying Osso Buco on New Year's Day. Great and flavorful way to start the year 2013 off. Happy New Year to you and those whom you hold dear. Can't wait!!! Yum!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on April 07, 2012:

Thanks for dropping by, Felina Margetty!

Felina Margetty from New York, New York on April 07, 2012:

oh la la!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on March 07, 2012:

Thank you so much, Peggy W, and I'm pleased to meet a fellow osso buco lover!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 06, 2012:

This sounds very much like the osso buco that my husband makes. In fact he has several recipes, but I think that I like the one best similar to the one you have posted. It is SO DELICIOUS! Yum! Will remind him to make it again soon. Voting this useful and will tweet so that others can also benefit from your good recipe. Thanks! Will also share with my followers.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 29, 2012:

Yes, tirelesstraveler, I agree it's better to become familiar with a variety of dishes before traveling. Thank you for dropping by and for your comment!

Judy Specht from California on February 29, 2012:

Thanks, always looking for new recipes. Knowing what different dishes are before traveling makes eating in foreign countries more pleasant.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 22, 2012:

Thanks so much for dropping by, Millionaire Tips. I look forward to reading more of your unique hubs!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 22, 2012:

Thanks so much for dropping by, KoffeeKlatch Gals! Please leave feedback if you have a chance to make the easy and elegant osso buco.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 22, 2012:

You're welcome! Thank you for reading and commenting!

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on February 22, 2012:

Now I'm starving. Your recipe looks and sounds amazing. I will definitely be trying it. Thanks so much for sharing.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on February 22, 2012:

If it tastes as good as in looks then I'm all for it!

Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 22, 2012:

Thanks for your comment and I hope you'll come back and leave some feedback when you have the chance to try the recipe!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 22, 2012:

Thanks for your comment, Molometer. I hope you have a chance to try it sometime...so simple and yet so delicious!

Shasta Matova from USA on February 22, 2012:

Oh my you are making me hungry! I've never had this dish. I have bookmarked this recipe as well.

Micheal from United Kingdom on February 22, 2012:

Thanks for a great recipe, I love this dish and haven't had it since I came back to the UK. Bookmarked and voted up. Interesting and useful.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 22, 2012:

Thanks for that bit of information and for your comment. I also enjoy the garlic in the gremolata as it adds another dimension of flavor.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 22, 2012:

Sounds delicious. I believe this originates from Florence, Italy. At least we found it constantly on the menu when we traveled there. I especially like the gremolata with the garlic. Voting this Up and Useful.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 22, 2012:

Thank you for your comment, DeborahNeyens, and I hope you have the opportunity to try the recipe!

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on February 22, 2012:

Mmmmm! I love osso buco and yours looks really delicious. Great tips, too. I am bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks for sharing.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 20, 2012:

Thanks for your comment. Yes, this is definitely a fool-proof recipe. A little time is spent searing, there's some chopping and the rest is cooking time. Please tell me how it goes!

Rufus rambles from Australia on February 20, 2012:

I am definitely going to try this recipe. I'm not that confident with cooking but this looks like something I can achieve! Thanks so much for sharing. Voted up!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 19, 2012:

It's the perfect cold weather comfort food....and much better than pot roast! : ) Thank you for your comment.

Lena Kovadlo from Staten Island, NY on February 18, 2012:

Thanks for sharing this recipe. It sounds like a very delicious dish to make and eat. The picture you have at the top of the hub looks so good that now I am craving for some pot roast. :)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 18, 2012:

Thank you for passing along the recipe and for visiting me! This is a nice showcase dish for guests.

Pamela Dapples from Arizona now on February 17, 2012:

You are quite the chef. I don't eat meat much myself, but I enjoyed your hub for its style, thoroughness and perfection. I know my daughter will want to try this recipe. I will be sending her the link. Voting up.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 17, 2012:

And the bonus is leftovers are even yummier! Thank you for popping in, rebekahELLE.

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on February 17, 2012:

Yum! This sounds and looks delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it looks like a great Sunday meal with enough for leftovers on Monday. It's bookmarked into my recipe folder!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 17, 2012:

Thanks so much for your positive feedback! It's nice to hear from a fellow osso buco lover. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do.

Arlene V. Poma on February 17, 2012:

I love osso buco, and have been enjoying this dish for years. This is a wonderful recipe, and I have bookmarked it. Voted up and everything else. Simply AWESOME!

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