incredibly tender osso bucco

It’s a myth that osso bucco is difficult to cook; I don’t know why, but there seems to be someone going round telling people that it’s hard to make. Same goes with polenta. How many of you haven’t even tried it because you think it’s too fiddly or chef-y?

Well I’m here to tell you that that is simply not the case. Neither are hard. You couldn’t get an easier, tastier, more comforting, crowd pleasing meal than this incredibly tender osso bucco, made in the slow cooker and served up with a big dollop of cheesy, buttery polenta.

Osso bucco; the beef equivalent of lamb shanks is one of the best cuts of meat for slow cooking, due to the flavour that the marbling of fat gives it. We’ve been looking forward to this osso bucco for weeks; ever since my sister in law got me on to WM Meats at the start of the year (after finding them on the Buy From The Bush insta page) and decided to come and visit for the weekend, putting osso bucco on the menu.

WM Meats is a family owned business where they butcher and package their own meat on farm, before sending it out directly to the customer. Not only is their meat incredibly fresh, I get such a kick out of going to the fridge or freezer and having a big supply of everything from chops, sausages, mince, roasts, ribs and steak on hand to cook for dinner. And it’s so nice knowing that you’re supporting a family run business (and just so you know, I’m not being paid to say any of this).

And their osso bucco was delicious. You should of seen how quiet is was at dinner on Saturday night; a rare thing in this house; everyone too busy gobbling it up to talk. Most of the ingredients you should normally have in your pantry or fridge (think tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, garlic, carrots) but you’ll need to hit up your butcher for the meat itself and make sure that you do go to the trouble of tracking down a big generous helping of fresh parsley to scatter over the top. It really freshens it all up.

Oh and the polenta. Once you know what you’re doing, I find it even easier to serve up for a crowd than mashed potato. And that’s saying something. Next time you have friends or family coming to stay – give this a crack. I guarantee you, you won’t be disappointed.

It’s not hard; you’ll have them going away thinking you’re a culinary genius.

Trust me.

osso bucco | made in the slow cooker
(serves approx 6 adults)

10 x pieces of beef shank* (tell your butcher you’re making osso bucco and they’ll know what you’re talking about)
A couple of tablespoons of plain flour, for dusting the meat
A good dash of olive oil, for browning the meat
2 x brown onions, finely chopped
2 x sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 x carrots, peeled and finely chopped
4 x cloves of garlic, crushed
1 x large glass of red wine
2 x sprigs of rosemary, removed from the sprig
2 x bay leaves
2 x tins of diced tomatoes
2 x tablespoons of tomato paste
1 x heaped teaspoon of beef stock powder
1 x cup of water
A good dash of caramelised balsamic vinegar (or use normal balsamic)
1 x teaspoon of brown sugar
A good sprinkling of chilli flakes
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
A generous sprinkling of fresh parsley, to serve
Polenta or mashed potato, to serve

  • Salt and pepper the meat on both sides and dust lightly in flour. In a large heavy based fry pan, brown the meat in olive oil, in batches, until nicely browned all over. Reserve the meat in to the slow cooker.
  • Then, using the same fry pan, sauté the onion, celery, carrots and garlic in a little more olive oil until softened.
  • Pour in the red wine and let it cook for a couple of minutes so that the wine evaporates.
  • Simply throw in the rosemary, bay leaves, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock powder, water, balsamic, sugar and chilli flakes and bring it all to the boil, whilst stirring.
  • Pour this mixture in on top of the meat in the slow cooker and give it another hit with some salt and pepper.
  • Cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8**, until the meat is totally falling off the bone.

To cook polenta: Portion out one part polenta to five parts salted water (I used two cups of polenta for this recipe, so ten cups of water). Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan and once boiled, slowly pour the polenta in whilst giving it a good stir with a whisk until it’s all in. Now let it simmer, stirring quite regularly for ten minutes or until cooked (you’ll notice that it will turn from looking sort of ‘grainy’ to more smooth in consistency). Take it off the heat and stir in a good knob of butter, a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese and season it with a little more salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Lo’s tips

  • *Depends on how big the pieces are. Most blokes I know would definitely eat two!
  • **All slow cookers seem to cook at different times, so these cooking times may vary.
  • Make sure you have a big loaf of crusty bread to help mop up the juices.
  • Osso bucco is nice served with some steamed beans with toasted almonds, or throw together a mixed green leafy salad.

If you make this Osso bucco, please leave your comments below. xx

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