Osso Bucco. Classic Italian comfort food consisting of slow cooked beef shin, immersed in a gorgeously rich Italian tomato sauce, topped with a zesty Gremolata. It does not stop there. This divine meal is elevated to foodgasmic heights with the addition of sweet but subtle, saffron infused risotto that is the perfect vehicle to mop up the sauce. This is a meal I absolutely adore making as while the house is filling with the heady smells of the Osso Bucco coming from the oven, I pour myself a glass of wine and get about the business of making the risotto. Some may think I’m a little nuts but I absolutely love the process of making risotto. It is a form of therapy to me, watching those little grains fatten up as they absorb the flavourful golden liquid. It is a process that shouldn’t be rushed and I urge you to give it a go. Pop on some tunes, get rid of the kids for half an hour and relish the moment. If you give it the love it deserves, it will reward you with an amazingly memorable meal that will never go out of rotation, particularly in the winter months.

Prep time: 30 Minutes

Cooking time: 3-3 1/2 Hours

$$ Medium Budget

Serves 4 (likely to be leftovers but awesome the next day)

For the Osso Bucco:

Olive oil for frying

1.2kg of Beef Shin

2 tbs of plain flour

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 large brown onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1/2 a bunch of thyme, tied with kitchen string into a bundle

3 bay leaves

1 cup of dry white wine

1 cup of beef stock

700ml bottle of tomato passata

1 tsp of sugar

Sea salt & cracked pepper

For the Gremolata:

1/2 a bunch of Italian parsley

1 garlic clove

3 strips of lemon rind, finely sliced

For the Risotto Milanese:

2 tbs of olive oil

1 small brown onion, finely diced

1 clove of garlic

1 pinch of saffron threads

1 cup of arborio rice

1 cup of dry white wine

3 cups of chicken stock (low sodium)

40gms of butter, chopped into smaller pieces

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt and pepper

To prepare the Osso Bucco, place the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Give it a little toss to combine and then lightly flour the beef shin on all sides.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Heat a large oven proof casserole dish and add a little oil. Brown the beef shin on all sides until nice and golden, you may need to do this in batches. Once really lovely and browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more olive oil and fry the onions until nice and soft. Don’t be alarmed if there are brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, this is all flavour and will be lifted once you pour in the wine.

Once the onion is soft add the carrot, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Continue frying until the veggies and herbs start to soften and then pour in the wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to lift all of the brown bits and allow the wine to reduce by about half before pouring in the stock and passata. Season with sugar, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and the return the beef shin back to the pan, juices and all. Make sure the Osso Bucco pieces are fully immersed in the sauce, bring back to a simmer and then cover with a sheet of baking paper, tucking the sides in nice and snug. This will prevent steam from escaping which will result in supremely tender meat. I do this in the slow cooker as well. Pop on a tight fitting lid or cover with a couple of layers of foil and place in the oven for around 2 1/2-3 hours. If slow cooking I would do about 7-8 hours on low. You can have a look at about the half way mark and turn over the beef shin to ensure an even cook. Remove the lid and paper for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

To make the Gremolata, finely chop the lemon rind, parsley and garlic all together so that it is lovely and fine.

Place the stock for the risotto in a saucepan and add the saffron. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat and cover with a lid to allow the saffron to infuse the stock.

When the Osso Bucco is about half an hour away, make the risotto. To make the risotto, heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan.  Gently fry the onion until it is soft and translucent and then add the garlic.  Pour in the rice and fry for approximately 2 minutes before adding the wine and allowing the rice to absorb all the liquid.  Ladle in the warmed stock, one ladle at a time and allow the rice to slowly absorb it.  I never stand and stir the whole time, I just have the heat at a very gentle temperature and allow the rice to gently drink in all the liquid, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.  After about 20 minutes the rice should be tender but still have a little bite to it.  At this point, stir through the butter and  parmesan, pop the lid on and set aside until ready to serve.

To serve, divide the risotto among four shallow serving bowls or plates and top with the beef shin. Don’t worry if it falls apart, just make sure everybody gets a piece of the shin bone (especially if they love bone marrow, like me). Sprinkle over the Gremolata, clean the plates of any spills and serve with a side of steamed greens.