It’s hearty fare on the menu this week for French Fridays with Dorie. We’re down to the last few dozen recipes, so the lineup seems to be the less familiar ones, ones that are a bit off the beaten track. The selected recipe this week is for Osso Buco à l’Arman, Arman being the French artist who gave the recipe to Dorie.
Autumn has always been my favorite season. Even though from nature’s perspective, it represent a period of slowing down, preparing to sleep and restore over the winter, I think of fall as a new beginning, even more so than the New Year’s holiday coming up in January. At this time of year, I reacquaint myself with my love of hearty stews and soups, warming my household from within as the air outside gets crisper. This week’s recipe filled that bill perfectly.
Technically, osso buco is the cut of meat used in this recipe: veal shanks cross-cut into thick pieces. (In Italian, osso buco translates to “bone with a hole”, referencing the marrow bone that runs down the shank.) The modern version of the sauce will include tomatoes and carrots, and the osso buco is served sprinkled with gremolata (a combination of garlic, orange zest, and parsley).
I don’t eat veal, but my research indicated that lamb shanks cut this way would be a reasonable substitute. Before they became trendy, shanks were an inexpensive cut for the frugal cook, requiring the long cooking of braising to tenderize the meat, melt the fat, and soften the collagen in the tendons. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any lamb shanks or, for that matter, beef. (I didn’t see any veal shanks either.) I opted for lamb shoulder chops, another cheaper cut of meat, but also sporting a “bone with a hole”.
The sauce was straightforward to prepare. First the orange zest gets boiled, then simmered. Then, onions, garlic, and herbs (I used all dried) are sautéed in olive oil before adding tomatoes, both canned and fresh, broth (I used beef), and some of the orange zest cooking water.
While the sauce simmers, the meat is browned. After nestling the lamb in the tomato sauce and adding several strips of the orange zest and the remaining orange zest cooking water, the pot is topped off with sliced carrots before closing the lid and popping the Dutch oven in the oven. Two hours later, dinner was ready.
I wasn’t sure about the purpose of several steps in the recipe. Maybe you can help me out:
- Why do we boil, then simmer, the orange zest? Does it do something to the orange zest, or is it to create the orange-flavored water used for the braise?
- Why canned AND fresh tomatoes? It seemed like the major contribution of the sliced fresh tomatoes was its skin (which wasn’t all that appealing).
- What does the layer of wax paper on top of the stew do?
Osso buco is traditionally served with risotto. Howard helped out and followed my directions for a saffron risotto cooked (in under 10 minutes) in the pressure cooker. (If you’ve never tried making risotto this way, you must. Check out my earlier post on this method.)
This stew was the perfect thing to have bubbling in the oven on a fall Sunday afternoon. The house smelled amazing, and the taste did not disappoint. I found the lamb to work well. The meat was melting off the bone, and the flavors of the sauce complemented lamb just fine. I liked the fresh taste of the gremolata on top of the stew. (Howard, as you might expect, opted to skip that step. The orange rind in the dish was more than enough fruit in his savory meal.)
Another company-worthy recipe that I will make again on a cold winter’s night! To see what the other Doristas thought, check out their links here. If you want to make it yourself, you can find the recipe on-line here, or in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.
Happy French Friday and Happy Halloween!
Over the summer, I spent the weekend in New York City with some of my blogging friends. Naturally, our visit was food-focused, including eating in restaurants, browsing a farmers market, exploring Chelsea Market, and shopping at bakeries.
One of my favorite bakery treats was the Fennel-Golden Raisin Semolina Twists at Amy’s Bread in Chelsea Market. I accidentally ordered an extra one, and I enjoyed every last bite. I added them to my never-ending list of recipes to try to recreate.
This week, I decided to bring refreshments to a morning meeting. I had scones on my mind, and when browsing cookbooks for ideas, in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, I came across a recipe for savory scones reminiscent of the twists at Amy’s Bread. I was thinking of something sweet, so I decided to play around with it. First of all, I halved the recipe, then I added more sugar to make these sweet, not savory, and finally, I made mini-sized scones instead of large ones. I love the tiny size for a group. They are small enough that people will always take a sample without feeling overly indulgent.
The end result was a success. The flavor brought me back to my weekend in New York. The only thing missing was a touch of semolina, so next time, I’ll try using some in place of some of the flour. The scones’ crumbly texture held up after a couple days in my cake dome. The leftovers didn’t even need toasting to revive them after the first day.
Fennel-Golden Raisin Scones
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
1 Tbsp fennel seeds plus extra for sprinkling on top of scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ stick cold unsalted butter (2 oz/¼ cup), cut into small pieces
¾ cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup heavy cream plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a spice grinder, coarsely grind the fennel seeds (about 10 pulses). If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Work in the butter using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers (my preferred method) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add raisins, ground fennel seeds, olive oil, and cream and stir just until the dough comes together. If it seems too dry, add a cream in small amounts (1 Tbsp at a time) until a dough forms.
Lightly flour your work surface. Pat the dough into a round about ¾-inch thick. Using a 1½-inch cookie cutter (or glass), cut out scones and transfer to the baking sheet. Gently push the scraps together and repeat until all dough is used.
Brush the top of each scone with some cream (you can also use milk or an egg wash) and sprinkle with a few whole fennel seeds.
Bake the scones for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until they are a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2½ to 3 dozen mini scones. (If you want bigger scones, don’t pat the dough as thinly, probably closer to an inch or a little more thick, and you’ll need to bake them longer.)