The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘osso buco’

Where Have All the Butchers Gone?

In General Articles on January 4, 2012 at 4:25 PM

While attending high school, I held a number of after-school and summer jobs. It was easy to find work growing up in Inwood in the 1950’s, as there were many stores that needed delivery boys;  the drug stores, the florists, the dry cleaners, the fruit & vegetable stores, the deli’s, the fish markets and the butchers. There were not many cars in the neighborhood then, so we delivery boys either hoofed it, or made our runs on delivery bikes.

My delivery boy career included a cleaner, a fruit & vegetable store and a butcher; the latter was located on the corner of 207th Street and Sherman Avenue and was called Wal-Fred’s. I don’t recall either a Walter or a Fred, but think I remember a Tommy and a Patsy (Pasquale), both Italian-Americans, who were either brothers or cousins.  I’m lucky I can recall even that, but one thing I will never forget is the smell.

The delivery boy was also the one who cleaned the store after his delivery rounds were completed. There were chicken cases to be scrubbed and display trays to be washed; there were butcher blocks to be scraped with a steel brush; there were fat /offal cans to be washed out and deodorized and there was the floor to be swept and covered with fresh sawdust before the store was closed for the night at 6:00 pm. Aside from the tips, one of the best aspects of the job, was on a hot summer’s day being able to walk into the meat locker to cool down before heading home to my non air-conditioned apartment.

One by one, in most neighborhoods and towns, the little stores that provided these jobs disappeared as supermarkets and mega-markets made their appearance. And with the proliferation of cars and vans, deliveries are more often made by motor vehicle rather than on foot and bike. Of all of these businesses that have disappeared, the loss of butcher shops strikes me as the saddest.

Buying meat wrapped in plastic and placed on a Styrofoam tray is a far cry from asking the butcher to cut you a steak to a particular size, or to slice the veal cutlets and pound them into scaloppine or even to find certain specialty cuts like Osso Buco on the day you want to make it, rather than wait for the next warehouse delivery.

On a recent trip to New York, we visited our favorite butcher, Vincent’s Meat Market, on Arthur Avenue in The Bronx. At Vincent’s you are able to get the type of service that was standard back when there were butcher shops in every town and neighborhood. On this latest trip we brought back with us both 2 pounds of Veal Scaloppine and 4 lbs. of Osso Buco. The Osso Buco, which were two inches thick, were too large for one person, so at our request the butcher cut them in half horizontally with his electric band saw. Try getting that done in your local supermarket, even if you can find Osso Buco.

The veal cutlets, having been rolled and stuffed with Prosciutto and Fontina cheese, served six as Veal Rollatini for dinner last week. The Osso Buco was prepared Milanese style (without tomatoes, which in my opinion detract from the intense veal flavor) and served four for dinner on New Year’s Eve.

Osso Buco Milanese

In Meat, Recipes, Veal on January 4, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Osso Buco Milanese with Gremolata and Risotto Milanese

Serves 4. Active Preparation – 30 minutes, cooking time 3 hours

Ingredients:

4 veal shanks, (Osso Buco) each about 1.5 inches thick (1 lb. each). If larger, have the butcher cut them in two, horizontally.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely chopped
½ cup carrots, finely chopped
7 garlic cloves—4 sliced thick, 3 minced
3 bay leaves
2 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 cups dry white wine
6 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp. veal demi-glace
2 tbsp. flour
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced Italian, (flat-leaf) parsley

Preparation:

1.    Season the veal shanks with salt and pepper.
2.    Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large braising pan add the butter and melt.
3.    Brown the veal shanks over medium-high heat until well browned on both sides 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and cover to keep warm.
4.    Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the diced onion, celery, carrots, sliced garlic cloves and bay leaves and cook over medium heat until they are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
5.    Add white wine and deglaze the pan. Add the chicken stock and thyme and bring to a boil.
6.    Add back the veal and any accumulated juices, cover the braising pan and cook on low heat for about 2- 2.5 hours, until very tender.
7.    Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata.  In a small bowl, mix the orange & lemon zest, minced parsley and the 3 minced garlic cloves.
8.    When the shanks are cooked, transfer them to a serving platter, cover with foil and keep warm in a preheated 200 degree oven.
9.    Strain the liquid into a bowl, discarding the solids.
10.    Rinse the braising pan and wipe dry. Pour the liquid back into the pan, bring to a boil over high heat, add the demi-glace and reduce on high heat for several minutes, lower heat, add flour and return meat to pan and keep warm until ready to serve.
11.    Pour the gravy over the Osso Buco, sprinkle each veal shank lightly with the gremolata and serve.

Note: The Osso Buco can be made in advance. Serve with Risotto Milanese.

One of the treats of this dish is the delicious marrow in the center of the bone. In fact, the name Osso Buco means bone with a hole.

Please see: Where Have All the Butchers Gone?

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