These hearty, satisfying braised veal shanks are served with creamy polenta.
In this week's episode of Ludo à la Maison, Chef Ludo Lefebvre takes on one of Italy's most famous comfort foods: Osso Buco, or braised veal shanks (the extremely literal name means “bone with a hole"). While Ludo is from France, Osso Buco is something of a family tradition—"In Burgundy we do a lot of stew. My grandma was doing a lot, a lot of Osso Buco," he says. "My grandpa has a garden, a lot of tomatoes in the summer, so she was really doing the Osso Buco with fresh tomatoes." Although, as the chef posits, maybe the dish is French after all. "Who knows if the Italians stole the recipe from us, or the French stole the recipe. Perhaps the French."
Ludo has a few tricks for turning out perfect Osso Buco every time. First of all, he ties the veal shanks with string to prevent them from falling apart while cooking. And, while searing the meat, he stresses to "be gentle." The veal shanks are dredged in flour, and if you drop them in a pot that's too hot, that coating will burn. "I can hear the speed of the sizzling," Ludo says. "It's like when you drive a car. You can hear the engine, the speed of the car. Same thing with cooking."
Another tip: the chef prefers to crush his tomatoes with a fork before adding them to the recipe. "I hope the Italians don't watch me now because I'm sure, 'Wah! Chef Ludo! What is he doing now? We never cut the tomatoes like that in Italy,'" he says. "The Italians are very, very specific about tomatoes."
Ludo also points out that Osso Buco is the perfect dish to make a day ahead of time if you're having a lot of people over—you just need to warm it up and it's ready to serve. For the complete recipe and step-by-step breakdown, check out the clip above.