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A Northern Italian Osso Buco Dinner

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This velvety-tender, rich braise is an authentic taste of Milan. Mangia

Veal shanks are popular in many European cuisines, but it’s in osso buco, the northern Italian classic, that they can be at their most heavenly. These veal shanks, braised in a sophisticated and subtle tomato sauce, then finished with a bright gremolata (fresh parsley, lemon zest, and garlic),  have an undeserved reputation of requiring large amounts of both time and expertise in the kitchen. But few dishes are more forgiving or more seductive. Like most braises, it does require slow, gentle cooking, but it doesn’t take much hands-on work.

In this menu, osso buco is paired with its classic accompaniment, saffron risotto. Even the risotto can be started hours ahead, and then finished only at the last minute. With its red-flecked deep golden hue, it warms the plate and the palate on a cold night. The meal starts with a gorgeous salad of winter greens, and finishes with a creamy ricotta tart.

Menu Timeline

Up to 2 days ahead:

  • Marinate the goat cheese.
  • Make the osso buco up to the point of adding the gremolata.
  • Make the vinaigrette for the salad.
  • Toast the croutons for the salad.

Up to 1 day ahead:

  • Bake the tart crust.

At least 6 hours ahead:

  • Make the tart filling, bake the tart, and chill well.

Up to 2 hours ahead:

  • Parcook the risotto (see make-ahead tip in the recipe). Spread the rice on a baking sheet to cool, cover and keep it at room temperature.

One hour ahead:

  • Bring the vinaigrette and cheese to room temperature.
  • Heat the oven to 325°F and then gently reheat the osso buco.

Just before serving:

  • Trim the endive, warm the croutons, and toss the salad.
  • Make the gremolata and finish the sauce for the osso buco.
  • Finish the risotto.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 3 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1/2 lb. chicory, escarole, or other winter greens
  • 1 large Belgian endive
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 1 blood orange (optional)

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 6 veal shanks, cut osso buco style (at least 1-1/4 inches thick)
  • 1/4 lb. unsalted butter
  • 2 logs (1/4 lb. each) fresh goat cheese
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • One 15-oz. container fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 large eggs

Other Groceries:

  • 1 small baguette
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 2 qt. lower-salt chicken broth (or use homemade)
  • One 28-oz. can Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 1 Tbs. arrowroot
  • 1 Tbs. Grand Marnier or Cointreau (or orange juice)

Pantry Staples

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sea salt (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

What to drink: Osso buco, a classic Italian dish, calls for an equally classic Italian red, one with forward fruit, bright acidity, and moderate tannins. Chianti Classico from Tuscany or Barbera from Piedmont are two excellent choices.

The Menu


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