Many years ago when I was first dabbling with turning every cut of meat from a harvest into a “trophy meal” I was cutting up a deer and I got to the shanks. Such a tedious undertaking, getting all the meat off the tendons and bone just for some more meat for the grind. I contemplated just tossing them to the dogs and I had that aha moment. Osso Buco!! Into the freezer they went and hours later I had one locked into the vice as I used the hack saw to saw the shank into neat slices. They were neat, but not neat to do. The next one I took to a local butcher and had him cut them on the band saw, I think he charged me $2.50. Perfect! I had solved that dilemma, now to find a good recipe.
Osso Buco means “Bone in the hole” in Italian. And the Italians have made this dish and true thing of beauty. I have made Osso Buco using so many different recipes. I started with the traditional recipe that left me suffering with heart burn. So I made it without tomatoes at all. I moved on to a more pot roast type which left me feeling that it just wasn’t special enough for all of the nice things that the collagen from the shanks and the marrow from the bone have to offer. I had read a recipe using fennel and parsnips for a lamb style stew and I decided to build on that since I love them both so much. I also adjusted the Gremolata to compliment the rest of the dish.
At the market there seemed to be an abundance of awesome vegetables this spring. The sweet corn was substantially sweet for this time of year and the oranges were perfect. I needed to add these to the batch.
At this point I have made my recipe for Osso Buco using Elk, Whitetail deer and Axis deer. They all work well. However, I do prefer to use a smaller shank for this, as it seems to be a less hearty and more light meal. Although it is hearty enough for a group of long-range shooters to practically lick their plates, which is the highest compliment this cook could hope for. Enjoy!
Recipe by Margie Nelson
Ingredients: (For 6 people, adjust as needed for more or less)
- Six sliced shanks from your game of choice
- 1 cup of a nice white wine
- One small fennel bulb with fronds, slice the bulb and reserve the fronds
- 3 parsnips peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
- One small sweet potato cut into small chunks
- 1 leek, sliced to the stalk
- 1 small shallot diced
- One stick of lemon grass
- Fresh thyme
- One orange supremed
- One sweet corn on the cob
- 6 Tbsp Better than Bouillon Chicken flavor
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh oregano
- Fresh chives
In a large pot add some oil and sear both sides of the shanks, deglaze with 1 cup of white wine and cover with water. Stir in the bouillon and bring the pot to a boil. Put this into the oven at 275F for 5-6 hours. This can also be done in about 2 hours in an Instapot. You want the meat to be falling away from the bone, but not actually falling off.
On top of the stove add the fennel, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, sliced leek and chopped shallot and the lemon grass and two sprigs thyme. Bring to a boil. After about 15 minutes remove the whole lemongrass and thyme. The sweet potato will practically cook into the dish making the broth thicker…we like this!
While this is cooking Supreme an orange (You tube this) and slice the kernels from the corn. From the orange rind cut very thin strips and carefully remove the pithy part from the back and chop into tiny pieces, or you can just zest it. Then mince the fennel fronds, parsley, oregano and chives. Add the zest or chopped up orange rind to the fresh herb mix for your Gremolata.
After about an hour long simmer on the stove the veggies should have cooked up nicely. Add the supremed oranges and fresh crisp corn to the top of the dish just before serving over risotto, rice, polenta, mashed potatoes or gnocchi. Garnish with the amazing gremolata.