(faux) osso buco à l’arman {ffwd}

Osso Buco

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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).
  3. 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.)

Osso Buco with Risotto

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!


Posted on 31 October 2014, in Autumn, French Fridays with Dorie, Lamb and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Nice rendition this week with the lamb! I also, have no idea why we did any of those steps though – sorry – but will be intrigued to read others’ answers there!

  2. peggygilbey814628432

    Hi Betsy! What a terrific meal, wish I were at your house for dinner. Love saffron risotto and prepare it every Christmas eve, also adding in some soaked, dried porcini mushrooms which is a knockout combination. I believe the oils and flavor intensify when cooking orange peel, heightening the scent. Orange peel cooked in an Iranian chicken dish, and later topped with orange segments and saffron is a popular dish and its flavor is so amazing.

  3. I have no clue why the peel was boiled – although some of the peel water was added to the dish (I assume for flavor). I just used the zest and juice of one orange – hoping that it matched the spirit of the dish. I thought the fresh tomatoes were a bit redundant, but I am not a tomato fan – I am sure my opinion is biased.
    I though that the parchment was supposed to keep the inside of my pan cover from getting dirty, but I saw that other called it a thickening tactic.


    Glad to hear the shoulder worked. I love Northeast autumns as well – I just don’t like what comes soon after….

    Have a lovely weekend.

  4. I had the same questions about the tomatoes, and boiling the zest separately! Next time I won’t add the fresh tomatoes…I really don’t think they did anything for the dish! I did enjoy the flavor of citrus!
    I would love this with the lamb…sounds perfect!
    Happy Friday, Betsy!

  5. Good to know the lamb works well, too…Bill would have been happy with either version! I actually forgot the fresh tomatoes and didn’t miss them one bit.

  6. This would be delicious with lamb. I am glad you both enjoyed!

  7. I would think that lamb would work better with this recipe because the gaminess of the lamb could handle the intense orange flavor… great substitute.

  8. I used the whole can of tomatoes because even though I cut the recipe I had no use for the balance of the can, plus I forgot to buy fresh tomatoes. It all worked beautifully in the end.
    I like the idea of the lamb, I am sure it was delicious. Happy Halloween.

  9. I love autumn, too. And this is the perfect recipe for the season. I like that you used lamb – I’m sure it was delicious.

    Happy Halloween!

  10. Your substitute lamb chops look good – bet it tasted good too!

  11. Hi Betsy! Your lamb sub looks amazing! I had some of your same questions as well. I figured the orange thing was to use the water since you do add the entire liquid contents of the orange-water to the osso buco. (That is interesting, too, about the Iranian reasons for boiling orange zest.) I could see no reason why I had to use fresh tomatoes, just to braise the heck out of them, so I used all canned to make my prep a bit easier. For your last question, someone on another blog said that the wax was to make the stew thicker. I have no idea of the veracity of that claim and, for that matter, I still boiled my down a bit. So, there are my stabs at those questions. Again, I’m happy to see that the lamb worked as it sounds like something I’ll do in the future!

  12. Lamb and lemon are such a classic combination, so it makes sense for orange to work as well. Adding to your list of whys… why there isn’t any wine in this recipe? :-)

  13. I had the same questions Betsy and I didn’t simmer the orange zest or add that much water. This recipe seems pretty forgiving and delicious! Fall is my favorite season too. After a busy summer of gardening and outdoor activities I love more time for reading, working on puzzles and just generally slowing down!

  14. Yes! I so agree, autumn is my favorite season. Everyone else talks about spring being the season of new beginnings, but that’s how I feel about autumn.

    As for your questions, I only have a theory about the last one with the parchment paper and that is that it should prevent any pieces of meat which might bob up to the surface from drying out.

  15. I haven’t made risotto yet, one of these days. I am glad I made this dish and look forward to using the rest of my meat haul someday. Good questions. I wondered why the separate pans, just makes more dishes.

  16. I think this recipe would work with all sorts of meats that are best braised. I was prepared to use beef shanks, but then I was surprised to actually find the veal shanks when I went shopping. You described exactly why I love autumn the best too!

  17. I agree with you about fall being a time of renewal as well as beginnings. For me, it’s left over from the school year, I think.

    I assumed the orange water trick was to distribute the orange flavour more thoroughly through the dish, or more softly, than orange zest alone would have. The other two I’m not sure about. It was awfully good, though. Saffron risotto is such a classic choice and I’m intrigued by your ten minute method.

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