The Best Osso Bucco and… Flyin’ Shoes

I got a new lens for my camera! Can you tell? I sent my letter to Santa just in time LAST year but .. oh hum.. i’m still waiting for my presents. Is it.. is it because i don’t have a chimney? So this year i went ahead and bought a Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF to go with my Nikon D60. I tried it quickly and i’m kinda pleased with it although i still have to learn how to use it properly which, being the slacker that i am, should take me another 15 years. Pffeww… just the thought of it makes me hungry.

What about some Osso Bucco for dinner?

I’m curious. Am i a food snob or do you agree that many dishes sound better in the language of their country of origin? The poet in me still thinks escargot en persillade is much better sounding than snails in garlic butter, and peter will agree that loukoumades sounds better than donuts soaked in honey syrup. I bet the lovely Rita, whom i had the pleasure to meet recently, is more partial to bacalao than to salt cod. Now the real test is – can she work bacalao into a delicious cookie?

The funniest translation gone awry i encountered was ‘chicken without sexual life’ on a menu in Shanghai which, I was told, was an attempt at translating ‘poussin’ or young chicken (Tong Zi Ji). I’m yet to find a ‘chicken in a pink latex suit with a whip’ on a menu… Now i want some of THAT for dinner!

I started to wonder if the classic Italian Osso Bucco could be translated into english and still sound delicious. So i asked Big Bossman if he wanted some.. err.. Hole-Bone for dinner the other night. Here was his answer:

err.. I didn’t think it would work anyway… :-)

I guess some things better never change. This is a fantastic Osso Bucco recipe by the way, follow the link for a soft polenta recipe and enjoy!

This recipe was featured on Serious Eats.

Osso Bucco

(serves 4)

  • 4 pieces veal shank with bone, cut 3 inches thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • a pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • 2 cups veal or chicken stock GREMOLATA:

  • grated rind of 1 lemon (or 1 orange)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic


  • Preheat the oven to 375’F. Season both sides of the osso bucco with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven, over medium flame, heat the oil. Sear the shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the browned veal shanks and set aside.

  • Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic to the pan and cook until softened and begins to caramelize. Add the tomato and tomato paste and cook until the tomato soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir until well combined.

  • Add the wine and deglaze the pan, let the wine evaporate, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the orange juice, the chicken or veal stock and the saffron (if using). Bring to a simmer and return the browned shanks to the pot. Add the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest and fennel seeds and coat the osso bucco nicely in the sauce. Return the mixture to gentle simmer.

  • Cover the pot and place in the preheated oven for about 2 hours. Flip the meat over at halftime to ensure even cooking. When the meat falls of the bone, it’s ready. Remove the shanks and reduce the sauce. The sauce can be passed through a food mill, or not.
  • For gremolata: combine all ingredients together in a small bowl. Strew the gremolata over the osso buco before serving.

Serve osso bucco with soft polenta or risotto and don’t forget to dig in the marrow with a small spoon, sprinkled with sea salt and spread on toasted country bread – it’s heaven!

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  • Elle

    That is total comfort food right there. And perfect for a snowy, cold night like tonight.

    And hole-bone is one of the funniest things I’ve read all week!

  • Peter M

    Ouch and LOL! It’s true, food can get lost in translation and I think the Chinese should have opted for Eunuch Chicken.

    The Osso Bucco looks wonderful and you tied the meat and bouquet garnee like a I mean surgeon.

  • doggybloggy

    “virgin chicken” perhaps….’flowered foul’ maybe….I love this dish,I love anything with a lot of marrow….
    “the marrow of the story is….”

  • The Short (dis)Order Cook

    Oh it definitely sounds better in the right language.

    I’d eat the chicken in the rubber suit with a whip – no problem.

    However, I don’t think Osso Bucco should ever be translated as “Veal meatballs in a ‘stoup’.”

  • Cynthia

    Getting osso bucco is not easy to come by in the Caribbean but since I am currently in the US, I am going to go hunting for some to make your recipe.

    Happy Holidays!

  • Stacey Snacks

    I want a new camera and lens too.
    Maybe if I am good Santa will bring me my wish!

    I love your osso bucco with orange juice. I do mine similar, though I use orange zest. I will try the o.j. next time.
    and I love the polenta instead of the usual polenta.
    Happy Holidays.

  • Stacey Snacks

    oops, I meant “polenta, instead of the usual risotto”
    too much wine.

  • Manggy

    HAHAHA! I love how your posts always have some subtly-placed recent political weirdness. Nice to see you just barely missed the shoes!
    Your pics have always been loooovely, believe me. Including this one. Even if you called it by a yucky English name, I’d still voraciously eat your delicious hole-bone (meant to be read and not heard, yeek). I think that is the major handicap of English (British? heh heh) cuisine, isn’t it? Dull, awkward recipe names!

  • foodhuntress79

    Hey… I think my brother has a similar camera- not sure though- but I heard he dug his life insurance just to get such thing from the black market 😛

    Osso bucco… hmmm…we have Osso Bucco in our restaurant menu and yours is really mouth-watering.

    P.S. Can you feature that baby chicken dish?

  • jesse

    Hole-bone? Mmm yes, I’d like some of that please. =P

  • Manger La Ville

    I love osso bucco, your’s looks amazing. I love the translation of poussin, I would give props to any chef in NYC who put that on their menu.

  • Zen Chef

    @Elle.. geez… do i get a prize?

    @Peter.. haha.. err.. i have no comment on your comment!

    @Christo, you were hit by a truck in Union Square the other day, weren’t you?

    @Rachel.. that sounds horrible! eek!

    @Cynthia… i guess you could use..err… parrots instead!? nahhh!

    @Stacey, it’s 4:30pm and you already had too much wine? It was another of those late lunch at Lupa, wasn’t it?

    @Mark, i’m proud to say i’m almost as good at ducking as our President! hehe

    @Enrisa Marie, you want the chicken in a pink latex suit recipe?

    @Jesse, err..

    @Manger la ville, if any chef dares to do that.. let me tell ya… There will be shoes flyin’.

  • gaga

    Wow, so tender and delicious. That looks heavenly!

  • §pinzer

    Never in my life would I have thought that smelly ol’ shoes and food could exist on a post together and YET make me salivate. A full salutation for you, kind sir!

  • Pearl

    wow – looks delish!

    and yes.. your wifey DID end up yelling at the candy thermometer before shoving it back into its plastic packaging :).

    but hey, how would i be able to send you that peanut brittle if the thermometer doesn’t work? :)

  • daphne

    hahaa.. Tong zi ji ..isn’t that like virgin roster rather than chicken without a sex life.. LOL!

  • We Are Never Full

    you’re santa seems much cooler and more generous than my santa. i’m jealous. love that you threw the spoon in the marrow. MMMMMM.

  • Kevin

    Nice looking osso bucco! Congrats on the new toy.

  • dirtykitchensecrets

    Oh how delicious! I totally love Osso Bucco and the Marrow! We have a very interesting bone and marrow soup in lebanon! When we were little we used to get straws to get the marrow out… fun times! Congrats on your new lens! My camera just got upgraded for christmas and I got my first DSLR! Its an exciting new world!

  • Gloria

    Mmmm this osso bucco look sooo nice and tasty Zen Chef and I love the Flyin shoes .. are yours??
    all the people speak abouth these shoes, was so funny I think!!
    Dear if we dont speak have a nice and happy Holydays, dont work so much!!! xxxxGloria

  • Zen Chef

    @gaga.. tender like me!

    @Spinzer.. next time i’ll try to slowly braise the smelly shoes as well.

    @Pearl.. You sound so feisty… grrrr..

    @daphne.. isn’t it the funniest thing ever? hehe

    @We are never full.. My Santa’s got dreadlocks. That’s how cool he is!

    @Kevin.. now if only i knew how to use my new toy. hehe

    @Bethany.. ohh, i want to know more about that soup! Congrats on the new camera!

    @Gloria.. Happy Holidays to you too!

  • Colloquial Cook

    Tiens c’est drôle mon boucher ne me ficelle jamais mes tranches de veal shank! Je vais me plaindre!

  • Julie

    And Zen, along the same lines, “La Chaussure Volante” is SO much more appetizing than “Shoe Thrown at My Head”, non? LOVE the photo! And as usual, yummy osso bucco!

  • cook eat FRET

    ok – does your boss eat like this everyday? is anyone in his family fat???????????

    these are the questions i want to know the answers to…

  • Cakespy

    Yum, your new lens is doing some nice work…but you can see the skill in the cooking! I love the lost in translation bit too. I recently read a book about an American expat in France asking someone if they wanted a pipe after dinner but botching it and actually asking in french if he’d like…well, another type of service. Just goes to show the subtleties (sp?) of language! :-)

  • Brilynn

    If I told you I’ve never had osso bucco, would you make it for me?

  • Rosa’s Yummy Yums

    This Osso Bucco looks fantastic! Mouthwateringly appetizing too!



  • Mochachocolata Rita

    GIMME YOUR LENS!!!! i’ve been a very good girl and let’s face it, you’ve been realll baddddd…(eg. serving me virtual osso bucco T_T)

  • TavoLini

    hahaha–looks good! Hope you recover from the shoe tossing :)

  • My Taste Heaven

    wow….absolutely yummy!
    thanks for sharing!

    My Taste Heaven

  • Marc @ NoRecipes

    LOL! Great story about the chicken and valiant attempt at a literal translation of osso bucco. I shoot all my photos with my 50mm 1.4. Given that I take most of my shots at night, it really helps (well that and a $9 ikea lamp).

  • Nina Timm

    This is such a heartwarming meal and a faantastic way to celebrate the arrival or your early Christmas present.

  • Darius T. Williams

    Whew – now this is some good cookin!


  • Zen Chef

    @Claire.. Fais ton regard de prof la prochaine fois. Ca marche a tous les coups.

    @Julie.. je suis tout a fait d’accord avec toi! Merci!

    @Claudia.. they’re all skinny and they don’t eat like that everyday.. only i do.

    @Cakespy.. i’d love a pipe after dinner!! hahaha.. You cracked me up. Too funny!

    @Brilynn.. YES!

    @Rosa.. Thank you!


    @Tavolini.. yes i’m recovering from my black eye.

    @My Taste Heaven.. and you Thank you for coming.

    @Marc.. Woa! That’s a big revelation! You take some of the best pictures in the foodie blogosphere in my opinion. Thanks for sharing.

    @Nina.. now i just need some booze!

    @Darius.. Heck! i hope so.

  • Cindy. Lo.

    For sure your big bossman is missing out a super duper delicious meal there!

  • Heather

    Mmmmm…creamy polenta and marrowy goodness….

  • Cakebrain

    Don’t you love your new lens? I love gadgets and “toys”! I have a Nikon D90 and have recently indulged myself with those fantastic Lowel Ego lights…I don’t think accumulating gadgets will ever stop!
    The osso bucco looks delicious!

  • waliz

    osso bucco???? something like jimmy choo?

  • AzAzura

    osso Bucco is one of my favourite dish,and I am laughing out loud reading this entry of yours, damn! im jealous!

  • Gloria

    Dear Zen Chef I come only to say have anice Merry Christmas and dont work so hard!!!! Happy Christmas and God bless you by make me laugh!! You are so nice!!! LOL Gloria

  • Parker

    That looks so tender and beautifully presented on the polenta. Happy Holidays.

  • Chicopea

    honey you are ahead of the game! still figuring out how to use my point-and shoot digital.

    hmmm the word for ‘chicken’ itself in canto is also the same word used for a woman’s privates. go figure! If i did not know better osso bucco sounds like…the ostrich’s butt! but your pics prove otherwise!

  • Anali

    OMG! That is too funny! Well, at least both you and Bush can duck!

    Happy Holidays ZC and all the best to you in 2009! ; )

  • gaga

    Wow, that is so mouth watering!

  • Chicken And Waffles

    Bone marrow ice cream? Seriously? I am still jonesing to try bacon ice cream at WD-50. Or the foie gras tapioca. Or the sweetbread creme brulee. Dessert SHOULD be savory. As for Per Se, I’m on the reservation list (3 months and counting!)

    Thanks for the Osso Bucco recipe. I’m so making it.

  • Clumbsy Cookie

    So you want a bacalao cookie? Ok, I shall make one! Of course things sound the best in their own language, althout I must confess I loved the chicken with no sex life thing, lol! Nice reflexs, escaping the shoes ;)!

  • Chicken And Waffles

    Although I have something of a sex life (OK, it ain’t great), I do own a pink latex suit. And I do know how to use it.

    Bring it!!

  • a spoonful

    The idea of salsa verde and steak totally turns my boyfriend off, but I bet I could sneak it into dinner and he would be amazed and then flabbergasted that he had an opinion before trying it.

  • Julie

    LOVE the pipe after dinner!

  • d

    persillade is actually less exciting than garlic butter. it’s simply a mixture of parsley and garlic. parsley in french = persil.