Osso Buco – Paleo Death Bed Meal? – CrossFit Series

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As I write this, I am receiving messages from home that my grandma, who I wrote about here, is on her death bed. She has congestive heart disease and is on morphine to control her pain. I am glad that I took time to visit her before heading West and only wish that I could prepare her a dinner of Osso Buco this evening…

It is common, when interviewing Chefs, to ask them what their death bed meal would be. The goal of the interviewer in asking this question is to find out what the Chef’s favorite food/meal is. However, in my experience, people on their death bed wish to eat nothing at all. I mean, its a good thought, but I just don’t see it happening.

Maybe asking about death row, or just before being executed, that might be more fitting. You know you are going down, you are quite possibly in good health, but your time has come. Tonight, after dinner, it’s off with your head. What do you want to eat? Wow. When putting it that way, you probably wouldn’t have an appetite either… Anyhow, you get my point.

Maybe the question should be simple and candid, like, “What is your favorite meal?”

Please keep my grandma in your thoughts and prayers today. Here is a picture of her with “The Jo” and “The Bro” from our recent visit to Duluth, MN. If you know her, you know that she has a certain way of frowning when she smiles and that in this picture she is sporting a half smile.

Okay, enough talk about death. On with the Chlorophyll!!!

I first learned about Osso Buco in Culinary School, but didn’t have a chance to make it regularly until I worked at the Kincaid Grille in Anchorage, AK. Chef Al Levinsohn, who had the single greatest impact on my Culinary Career, shared his recipe with me and I’ve been making it ever since. Here’s a picture of Chef Al with the line I used to cook Osso Buco on just over his left shoulder…

The goal with this dish is to get a hard sear on the meat so that it looks like this. You can see the built in marrow starter as well.

From there, you keep it simple (and Paleo), and let the synergy of the mire poix, tomatoes and citrus imbue the meat with their subtle, aromatic flavors. The end product is a thing of beauty, just be sure to plan ahead so you can let the meat cool in its braising liquid…

Here is the video, which first aired a few weeks ago on the CrossFit Journal. If you have not subscribed to The Journal yet, put it on your list of things to do.

Here is another pic of the Osso just before it is covered and braised. When braising, you want your meats covered with liquid approximately half of their thickness. You also want to turn them at least once during the braising process to keep all surfaces evenly moistened with the cooking liquid.

The beauty of the braise is that the moist heat gently breaks down connective tissue so the finished product is tender. In doing so, the melted connective tissue lends body and flavor to the braising liquid, which becomes the accompanying sauce. This cooking technique maximizes flavor retention!!!

Anyways, I’ll stop geeking out on this stuff and let you get to cooking. Osso Buco is another great alternative to Turkey at Thanksgiving, especially if your guest count is 10 or less. Here’s one more pic. I know the rosemary sprig garnis is so 70s, but I like height and I wanted to infuse the marrow with some “dew of the sea.” Look that one up…

As my Uncle Juice would say, “Keep It Classy” and “Keep It Paleo!” this Thanksgiving.

If you are reading this, you have more to be thankful for than you even know…

Share your pictures and stories, I love to see/hear how things turn out!

Your Guide to Culinary Fitness,

Paleo Nick

Osso Buco

Ingredient List:

  • 4 Cross-cut veal shanks, approximately 12-14oz each
  • 1 cup Mire Poix, diced (1/2 cup onion, 1/4 cup carrot, 1/4 cup celery)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Olive oil, as needed

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet, soup pot, or large sauce pan until a light haze forms and oil flows like water when pan is tilted.
  2. Season shanks evenly on all sides with salt and sear them in oil. Allow shanks to brown generously on all sides before turning, this should take 8-10 minutes.
  3. Remove shanks to a half hotel pan or baking pan and reduce heat to medium.
  4. Add mire poix to pan and deglaze, stirring regularly for thirty seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic and orange zest and bring to a boil.
  6. Pour liquid and vegetable mixture over shanks and cover pan with foil.
  7. Place in a preheated 350°F oven for one hour, remove pan from oven, and turn meat over. Cover once again and braise for one hour longer.
  8. Remove pan from the oven, remove the foil and allow meat to cook in the braising liquid. I recommend doing this overnight to retain the most flavor.
  9. When you are ready to eat/serve the Osso Buco, reheat in the braising liquid in the microwave or in a pan over a low flame. Once hot, place shank in the center of a bowl and ladle liquid and vegetables over the top. Garnish with gremolata and a sprig of rosemary and enjoy! Bon Appetit!

“Keep It Paleo!”

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