this is hands down one of my favourite comfort foods. i have made it with veal shanks for a long time, until one day my butcher only had beef shanks. nice guy, my butcher, thoroughly competent except for his tendency to ma'am people without cause. yes, ma'am. here you go, ma'am. a good day to you too, ma'am. what the heck?! made me feel like the patron saint of mothballs and wooden walkers. i smiled back and said nothing, cause he always cuts my meat exactly the way i ask for it, he trims everything, he even deveined shrimp for me. a good butcher is priceless.
4 beef shanks
4 tb all-purpose flour
2 tb butter
2 celery stalks
3 garlic cloves
1 cup red wine
zest of one lemon, finely grated
2 bay leaves
1 14oz whole canned tomatoes, preferably san marzano
3 tb chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tb orange zest, finely grated
2 tb dried sour cherries, diced
let the meat sit on the counter for half hour so it can come to room temp. give it a quick rinse in cold water to remove bone splinters and pat dry. season the flour generously with salt and pepper. heat 2 tb oil with the butter in a large pan. dredge the meat through the flour, on all sides. shake off excess flour and sear the meat until good and brown, on all sides. do not crowd the pan, do it in batches if you have to. remove the meat to a plate and add onions to same pan. saute a couple minutes and add carrots, celery, garlic, lemon zest and bay leaves. cook another 5 minutes, then pour the wine - whatever red you have, so long as it's good enough to drink, never buy those labeled 'for cooking'. nest the meat back in the pot and cook the wine until reduced by half. crush the san marzanos by hand and add them to the pot, with enough beef stock to just cover the meat. [i've done it using water a few times, and it's just as good, so if you don't have stock it's no biggie.] bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently, partially covered for 2 hours. check every now and then, and taste the meat after 1 1/2 hours. you can also braise it in the oven, once you've got it boiling cover it and put it in at 375F.
for the gremolata simply mix all the ingredients together. serve the osso bucco hot over mashed potatoes, and about 1 1/2 ts gremolata sprinkled over the whole thing. it really is a thing of wonder how such a humble cut of meat becomes nothing short of exquisite, because that great marbling of connective tissue breaks down into sweet, melted comfort. the sauce has amazing depth thanks to the reduced wine and the quality tomatoes. eat, enjoy, loosen belt. do the dishes in the morning.