Archive for the ‘Veal’ Category

Ah!  The traditional Northern Italian dish: Ossobuco; veal shank cooked in broth and wine and seasoned with vegetables and herbs. Mmmm!

Eleven years ago this week, one week shy of my first wedding anniversary, my husband Emilio attended a fishing tournament in the Dominican Republic, so I took off to a mother and daughter weekend getaway to the Spa at the Disney Institute in Orlando, Florida.   I believe this place is now open exclusively for corporate events, but at the time we attended, they had photography, animation, film, art and cooking workshops along with the typical massage, facial and exercise routine commonly found in spas.  Of course, foodies after all, we chose the 3 day cooking workshop which that weekend was devoted to Italian Cuisine.  We spent about 5 hours daily in the hands-on cooking classes and enjoyed olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar tastings.  The chefs were knowledgeable and the facilities superb. Each of us had our own cooking station, the ingredients were fresh and the assistants to the chefs always ready to lend a helping hand. From the basic fresh egg pasta to Ossobuco, we learned to make traditional italian dishes that I have used as guidelines to cook for my family and friends throughout the years.

Mom and I at the Disney Institute Spa and Italian Cooking Course May 1999

Ossobuco means “hollow bone” referring to the bone marrow of the veal shank used to make this dish.  Veal is the meat of young cattle (calves).  Its meat is tender, but the savory veal shank cut (lower part of the leg) can be a bit tough due to connective tissue and cartilage.  This kind of cut is best when braised (cooking method in which the meat is first seared or browned in fat in high heat and then cooked in broth and/or liquid in low heat).  When the veal shank is braised, the meat becomes very tender (you will not need a knife) and the bone marrow releases collagen which is then turned  into gelatin and along with the melted connective tissue helps in the thickening and flavor of the sauce.  The sauce also includes the “holy trinity” of italian cooking; onions, carrots and celery.

I only make Ossobuco when I have guests or for special occasions because it is a dish that takes a long time to make.  This is not something I would make during week days and I make sure I will not be rushed during the day I decide to make it.  After I cut and measure all ingredients, I start to sear the seasoned-flour coated veal shanks in a large roasting pan over my gas stove. Then I cover it with foil paper when ready to put in the oven.  If you make this recipe for 4 persons use a dutch oven or covered oven proof deep pan in which the shanks are close to each other and the liquid covers the meat at least half way up.  This modern version of Ossobuco Milanese goes well with mashed potatoes, polenta or Risotto Milanese.  I like to sprinkle it with Gremolata.  FYI, an older version of Ossobuco in Bianco (no tomatoes) is made with broth, cinnamon, allspice, laurel leaves, wine and Gremolata.

Buon Appetito!


serves 4-5 persons


4 pounds veal shanks, about 4-5 pieces ( 1 1/2 inches thick and 5 inches wide each piece)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup of carrots

1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

1  cup of dry white wine

1 -14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups of veal or beef stock

2 bay leaves

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

about 2 tbsp of coarsely chopped italian parsley (flat leaf)

1 tbsp freshly squeezed bitter orange- naranja agria (optional)

salt and pepper to taste



1.  Preheat ovean 350º F.

2.  Mix flour, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Taste flour to ensure enough seasoning has been added.  Proceed to generously dredge the veal shanks coating them evenly.

3.  Heat extra virgin olive oil (medium) in stovetop just below smoke point.  I use my large roasting pan when I make it for a large group of people.  For this recipe, use a dutch oven, casserole or an oven proof sauté pan with lid where you can fit the veal shank close together and the liquids come at least  halfway up the sides of the meat.  Add the seasoned veal shanks to the hot oil to sear until golden brown on both sides (about 7 minutes each side).  Once veal is browned, remove the shanks to a clean plate.

4.  Immediately add onions, celery and carrots to the pan and sauté until onion is translucent and carrots golden brown.

5.  Add minced garlic and sauté briefly.

6.  Add white wine to deglaze pan. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula to remove all of the flavorful bits still clinging to the pan.

7.  Return veal shanks and its juices to the pan and reduce wine by 3/4.

8.  Add diced tomatoes, veal or beef stock and bring to a soft boil.

9.  Add orange juice and herbs.  Liquids should come at 3/4 up the veal shanks. Cover and place in the oven for 45 minutes. When timer goes off, check that enough stock remains to cover at least 1/2 of the veal shanks. Baste the meat with the juices which should be simmering gently. Reset time for 45 more minutes.

Braised Ossobuco

10.  Remove casserole/pan from oven and check for doneness.  Meat should fall readily from the bone. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper if necessary.  If sauce is too thin for your taste, remove meat form the pan to a serving dish or tray.  Place sauce in a small sauce pan and reduce to the desired consistency.  Transfer veal shanks to serving plates and top with the sauce.  You may also garnish with Gremolata, a mixture of lemon zest, garlic and italian parsley.

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Veal Fricassée

During the past few years I have reduced my meat consumption greatly.  I have become a “flexitarian” (a person who eats meat occasionally, as a “seasoning” and in much smaller quantities than the leafy greens, dairy, legumes, grains and/or vegetables etc. that are in my plate).  It was not a dramatic decision I made one day but rather gradual little changes and adjustments I have done during the past 2 years. I believe in eating fresh, natural, whole foods even though you may allow yourself to eat a decadent dessert once in a while, or like my brother Manolo says; “Allow yourself a treat only on Sundays to satisfy cravings!”.  Add exercise to the equation and you have the basic formula to keep a balanced lifestyle.  By making homemade meals from fresh ingredients we know what we are putting into our mouths and giving our families the nutrients they need to maintain a healthy (not necessarily skinny) body.

Cooking at home brings families and friends together. Sadly, this tradition is being lost in many homes and substituted by fast food and take-out as the rule instead of the exception. After reading books like the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Skinny Bitch, Food Rules and Slow Food Nation, I was motivated to make some adjustments in the way I buy, cook and eat food.  I am convinced eating less processed foods and more organic foods that come from plants, trees, the wild (as in fishing), and pastured animals that have not been exposed to antibiotics or pesticides, are the best alternatives.  In the long run, its worth paying the premium prices these items usually have and I try to buy organic, local and seasonal whenever possible. This doesn’t mean I won’t have an Oreo once in a while.  I have never liked extremes, so balance is the key.

That being said, my husband is a meat lover, so sometimes I make stews, beef tacos, “ropa vieja”, stuffed chicken breasts, lamb or pork chops, breaded veal scallopini, picadillo, etcetera for him and guests to enjoy.  Last week my brother in law Mandy, our niece Camelia and her boyfriend Ricardo along with my mother in law Martha came over for dinner and this is what I made for them. They loved it as well as my recipe for cheese fondue (I will post in the near future) which is always a great hit.  Keep in mind I make this recipe in a pressure cooker to make it faster. For all the meat lovers out there, here is my recipe for Veal Fricassée!



Veal Fricassée

6 servings aprox.


2 1/4 pounds of veal cut into cubes aprox. (2″x2″ aprox.)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 medium size orange (juice and about 1 1/2 tsp of zest)

1 tbsp kosher salt

1 cup of white wine

2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

1 1/2 tbsp recaíto (or 1 frozen “ice cube” of recaito, see recipe under seasonings) if you cannot find recaito in your grocery store, a bled of italian seasonings is a good substitute (1/2 tbsp)

2 bay leaves

2 carrots cut about 1″ thick

2 golden potatoes cut  into large cubes

2 tomatoes cubed

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup finely chopped cubanel pepper or green pepper

1 tsp oregano

4 oz tomato sauce

8 oz canned pimentos (pureed)

10 manzanilla olives

3 sprigs of thyme

1 cup of veal stock (or chicken stock)

1/2 cup of water

salt and pepper to taste


1.  Season veal chunks with salt and orange juice and zest.

2.  In a pressure cooker, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-hi heat.  With a slotted spoon remove veal pieces from marinade and sauté for about 5 minutes. Reserve the marinade juices.

3.  Add wine, onion, carrots, tomatoes, recaito and pepper.  Sauté for another 5 minutes.

4.  Continue by adding potatoes, pureed pimentos, tomato sauce, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, pepper, broth, marinade juices and water.

5.  Cover pressure cooker and cook for about 45 minutes. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, make it in a heavy bottom medium-large pan or a dutch oven.   It will take about 2 hours over med-lo heat for meat to become tender (covered).  You will have to add more liquid or water  so that the sauce doesn’t dry up)

6.  Best when served with basic white rice (see recipe under rice), risotto alla milanese (see recipe under risotto) or brown rice.

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