Osso Buco Recipe

Complaining about the weather is a national sport in France, but as is true of most sports — except perhaps for swimming — I am not very good at it. I have generally adopted the maxim, “Don’t worry about the things you can’t control,” and while I will do the chit-chat thing with taxi drivers and random people seeking shelter under the same awning as me (before I suddenly remember that all my windows are open and have to run back home under sheets of rain), I don’t really mind that August has been so lousy in the weather department. I figure this puts us first on the list for a really beautiful Indian summer, and it also opens the door to nice summer stews, which one can prepare in one’s recently acquired yet very old cast-iron pot.

Osso buco has entered the traditional French repertoire a long, long time ago, and this is my take on the French take on this dish.

Osso buco is an Italian stew of braised veal shank, onions, and tomatoes, spiked with garlic and lemon zest, and it is the dish I decided to make to show the unseasonal temperatures I held them no grudges. The name means, literally, “pierced bone”, as the sauce gets its rich flavor from the veal bones and the tender marrow that’s hiding inside.

I had had this dish before but had never made it myself, so I turned to a few of my cooking references to see what they had to say — the handbook we used at my cooking class, L’Art Culinaire Moderne, and Escoffier’s Guide culinaire (published in English as The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery). I took in their advice with a respectfully bowed head, and did things my way.

As you will no doubt have noticed, the above-mentioned references are French, not Italian (The Silver Spoon cookbook is on my wish list), but osso buco has entered the traditional French repertoire a long, long time ago, and this is my take on the French take on this dish. I am aware that your Italian grandmother’s recipe may be marginally or even dramatically different; I hope she will forgive me and invite me into her kitchen to show me how it’s really done. Talk to her about it.

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Osso Buco Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Serves 6.

Osso Buco Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 slices veal shank, about 1.5 kg -- have the butcher tie each of the slices with string, so they won't fall apart as they cook
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 kg (2 pounds) yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 kg (2 pounds) ripe tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup good-quality stock (or just water)
  • The zest from half a lemon, finely grated
  • Gremolata, for serving


  1. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pour the flour in a soup plate. Dredge the meat with flour, working with one slice at a time and shaking it well afterwards to remove excess flour. Place half of the meat in the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes on each side until nicely golden. Set the meat aside on a clean plate, and repeat with one more tablespoon olive oil and the remaining meat. Once all the meat is browned, set all the meat aside on the plate.
  2. Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic, onions, and 2 tablespoons water into the pot, and cook for 10 minutes or until softened, stirring regularly to avoid coloring.
  3. Carve out the stems from the tomatoes, quarter them, and discard the seeds and juices. When the onions are softened, add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the meat over the vegetables, pour the wine and stock over the meat, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for an hour and a half, stirring from time to time, until the meat is very tender. An hour into the cooking, add the lemon zest.
  4. Remove the lid, turn the heat up to high, and cook until the sauce is reduced by half and thick enough to cling to the meat, stirring frequently to prevent the sauce from burning at the bottom of the pot. Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning, and serve with plenty of gremolata for sprinkling, and a side of rice, risotto, or fresh pasta.


  • No need to remove the string from the slices before serving.
  • The marrow inside the bone is edible, and particularly delicious when spread on a piece of crusty bread and sprinkled with fleur de sel.

  • Clotilde,

    You say to use ‘good quality stock’ in your reciepe. In the US we have quality canned, liquid stock but in France, I have never found an equivalent. Using cubed bouillon in not very appealing and making my own stock not very practical. What do you use/suggest?

  • Clothilde! You cannot be French. My French Grandmère would never throw away anything, let alone the seeds and juices of tomatoes, but would say, “Keep that and use it for XXX.” I cannot think of anything edible that was ever thrown out. (Although there were some things I wish had been, like pig heads.)
    These days in Italy, they sell also osso bucco di tacchino, which is slices of turkey leg, because the veal is so in demand that it has gone from simple cheap food to pricey for what it really is. It’s OK, not more.
    I do keep stocks and broths in my freezer, but I also cheat with “Better than Bouillon” or similar reductions that friends bring me from the USA.

  • Margie

    The Silver Spoon lists two recipes for Osso Bucco – Milanese Osso Buco and Veal Osso Buco with Peas. The first looks more interesting to me and is served over a saffrony rice (although no directions are listed). The main difference I see with your recipe and the ones listed here are the inclusion of celery, carrot, and tomato paste. The first recipe also includes a gremolata to top the meat, which is a mixture of lemon and parsley. Feel free to e-mail me for either of the recipes.

  • Voici une recette qui va très bien avec la météo que nous avons en Suisse ces jours!
    Merci je vais l’essayer

  • Do you have a picture of the final product?

  • Osso buco is wonderful! I have made the Italian style dish and it is not terribly different. It’s such a simple stew, yet the use of veal with its rich flavor and the final sprinkling of gremolata makes it more monumental. It is not yet cool enough for this here in Florida, but now you have me looking forward to it. I hope your deserved Indian Summer is on its way!

  • I am still waiting for the indian summmer….

  • Yumm! Osso Bucco is a favourite in our house but we slow cook it in the oven for 2 hours (lid on of course), this sounds just as good and I’m sure the smells even more amazing. Strangely enough I haven’t seen the lemon zest included but I love it and will be sure to throw some in next time.

    I’ve seen it suggest that you score the edges of your meat so that it’s good and relaxed and has room to expand and ‘melt’ but this might just be an oven thing.

    For anyone who hasn’t tried this dish it’s so easy and tasty and your recipe looks a great place to start.

  • This is a favorite in my mother’s house…a recipe she has passed on to me as well. We use beef though because veal is a bit expensive here. We also add freshly squeezed orange juice…it’s great :) I love marrow! I will definitely try this with veal one day…

  • john

    As I understand it, Osso Buco alla Milanese doesn’t include dredging the meat in flour but definitely includes sprinkling on gremolata–a fine mince of garlic, lemon zest, and flat-leaf parsley–just before serving. The heeat of the dish releases the aromas of the three gremolata ingredients in a very satisfying, appetite-stimulating way.

  • gingerpale

    Osso Buco–not just good to eat, fun to say!
    I was waiting to see what you’d put in your new-old pot for us, thanks for the end of the story.)

  • I made osso bucco just the other day with a recipe from an American cookbook. It was just about like your recipe and received rave reviews. Really a simple, nourishing satisfying meal.

  • tina

    dear clotilde (and stephanie and judith)…
    here’s what makes my life a little easier: i know it’s cheating and it can obviously never be as good as homemade, but hey…oh, and it’s organic…
    MARIGOLD SWISS VEGETABLE BOUILLON. i’m sure you’ll be able to get it in supermarkets or health shops in france, italy, america, or wherever else you may be.
    Delia Smith loves it, too:
    “This is without doubt an ingredient that has revolutionised modern cooking. Before Marigold you had to either make your own stock or resort to the dreaded chemically flavoured cube. Fresh stock can now be bought in supermarkets, but it’s expensive. Marigold is made with vegetables and has only pure vegetable flavour, meaning you can have instant stock any time. If there were good ingredient awards, this would win first prize.”
    btw, clotilde, i do love your page, your recipes and your way of writing…it keeps me hooked…all the best.

  • Oh I bet this was a wonderful dish! Perfect for colder weather. Do be honest, I could use some cooling off here in CA! The grass is always greener on the other side…!

  • Elizabeth

    Cast iron skillets are the best! I still lust after the beautiful Staubs described here, too. Osso buco is one of my favorite dishes for the dead of winter. The saffrony rice mentioned above is called Risotto Milanese; I’m sure there are lots of recipes online. It’s the only instance in Italian meals in which risotto (a primo or 1st course) is served together with the main dish (secondo) as far as I know. You may own other Italian cookbooks, but the new translated edition of *Silver Spoon* is not what I would recommend if it’s the only one. (See the relevant thread in the forum; cf. poem entitled “Osso Buco” by Billy Collins who celebrates life in the spirit of C &Z.)

  • Osso buco is fabulous on polenta! Try gremolata with orange zest, garlic, and parsley.

    We always fix an extra veal shank and use it, with whatever pan juices/sauce remains, to make the world’s best–and most decadent–shepard’s pie.

  • Joana

    the bones look like some rather edgy rings:-)

  • Pierre

    I second what Jeff wrote, a picture of the final product would have been more helpful to make me want to try this recipe. Were you satisfied with your result?

  • sandra

    jeff, pierre, i’m guessing that if clothilde had a photo of the stew that she liked, she would have posted it. stews are not very photogenic (lumps of meat, blobs of sauce) and i like the metaphoric image of the remaining bones. you can use your imagination for the actual dish!

  • Johlene

    The best Osso Bucco I have ever had was from a recipe in The River Cafe Book. Ossu Bucco in Bianco (white wine and anchovy)it is superb and seems to me to really bring out the flavour of the veal!

  • odile

    The osso bucco I had required that the pasta (spaghetti) be cooked in the stew itself, just for a few minutes at the end. It was heavenly.

  • this sounds yummy!!!Can’t wait to make it.

  • The Silver Spoon is a sound investment! I just bought it recently and the one meal I’ve made from it thus far has already made it worth the (surpisingly small) expense.

  • Sharonaroni

    I have been meaning to explore this dish ever since I heard Billy Collins read his poem “Osso Buco” during an interview on Fresh Air. Clotilde, I will use your recipe as my start! Sounds wonderful. And check out the poem, which I already know is wonderful: http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/ossobuco.htm

  • shelli

    Here I was just wondering what to give some friends for dinner this weekend. Thanks, Clotilde!

  • The Silver Spoon is a magnificent book. I got it from my wonderfully cooking mother (something which is quite common in Italy – not only wonderfully cooking moms but them giving you the S.S. too). Hope you’ll get it soon. I’d love to know what you think of it after trying some of its recipes.
    And I’m not my grandmother (!) but you’re most welcome in my Italian kitchen in Amsterdam at any time. :D Ciao!

  • cj

    It is raining here and I have work to do, so of course I just went on a mad baking spree (always a sign of avoidance with me). I tried your Yogurt Cake (the rum smells beautiful) and was wondering if I can freeze it without ruining it? Thanks.

  • Syl


    I’ve been reading your blog for a few month now and I love it. It never fails to make me smile and stomach-rumble. Your last post resonated with my little mishap of last weekend:

    Last weekend was a Bank Holliday in England, the weather was dreadfull, but I’d manage to harvest some nice tomatoes from the garden and had the sudden inspiration of an ossobucco (Great minds…). Ooh, it was going to be sooo prefect. A delicious stew and this out-of-this-wolrd marrow (It’s not only edible, it’s the best bit).
    However, veal is not easy to find on this island (apparently, rearing veal is inherently cruel…). So I set off to this far away, posh supermarket that, I know, sells british rose veal. Only to find out that it has been discontinued, because nobody was buying it and the supremarket had too much “wastage”. Now, that’s cruel.

    Well, I guess, I better call a good butcher and place an order for next weekend. Hopefully, the weather it still going to be rotten…

  • bonjour clotilde,
    voici ce que ma grandemère italienne vient de me dire: dans la vraie recette on n’ajoute pas de tomates mais on trouve les anchois qui, conservés dans une saumure, étaient ajoutés à la place du sel, très cher à l’époque. Dans ta recette on trouve le thym par contre en Italie on utilise le laurier…
    si je le poste je te fais un signe?

  • Osso Buco or ‘bone with a hole’ is a Milanese recipe, but the traditional recipe has undergone lots of variations over the years with the addition of carrots, celery and kalamata olives.

    However until the varitaions cater to the rich body and tangy flavor of the recipe it is not an unecessary addition.

  • Sounds so warming and hearty!! I will have to try out the recipe when the Seattle clouds roll in and the damp drizzle becomes routine and constant.

    I love your blog! (I have been obsessed with French ccooking these days)– a reformed vegan and carrot juice drinker..hehe


  • J’aime beaucoup ça. Bien préparé, quel délice!

  • Pietr

    A little slice of orange skin will do also very nice, somethimes without de lemon.

  • hariati

    what a coincidence! i did osso bucco the same day i read your blog. but i just love to add gremolata (a mixed of lemon rind chopped with garlic and rosemary)at the end of the cooking time and let it rest for 5 minutes.It’s really makes a difference!

  • joel jason

    dear clothilde,
    i recommend that you check out marcella hazan’s cookbooks for all italian recipes. i my opinion, she is the grande dame of italian cooking and her recipes encourage experimentation while setting down excellent approaches to cooking italian.
    as an avid cook, i buy many cookbooks, and i disliked the silver spoon book so much that i returned it. i don’t understand it’s popularity at all. it’s just “off.” i just don’t think that curry powder or recipes by american chefs belong in a “classic” italian cookbook.

  • Vicky Go

    I did not read this Aug 29 C&Z post – but I cooked my 1/2 Italian aunt’s version of Osso Buco – the quick & easy but tasty version – on Labor Day Monday (Sept 4 in the USA). I had about 5 lbs in total of bone-in beef (not veal) shanks – 4 pieces. I cut out the meat from the bones (roasted the bones and ate the marrow all by myself)- cut them in 1/2 in. cubes. Used Knorr meat seasoning on them, dredged them in lightly salted/peppered flour & browned them in half oil/half sweet butter. In the clarified browning oil/butter, I sauteed lots of minced garlic (almost a whole head), a couple of diced medium onions. Added an 8 oz can of olive/garlic/onion diced tomatoes, cooked the mixture a bit. Added in the browned meat. Added 1 1/2 cup of Chenin Blanc and 1 cup of chicken broth. Brought all to a boil, lowered heat to a simmer and cooked stew for 1 & 1/2 hours. Added a few sprigs of parsley & a couple of Tbp juliened lemon zest and cooked for 5 minutes longer.
    Before serving, sprinkled gremolata on top.
    Gremolata: Mix chopped parsley, minced garlic and grated lemon zest.
    Served on top of Risotto w funghi (the next night over buttered bow-tie pasta)


    Vicky Go

  • Vicky Go

    I forgot to mention –

    There’s a slightly more complex recipe for Osso Buco from Bon Appetit at Epicurious.com.

    Enter the search term “Osso Buco”


  • veron

    I’m going to a class for this on Oct 16th but I’m glad I found your recipe and shall try it before the class.

  • Kay S Gardner

    Just found you on the internet and look forward to trying the recipe for Osso Buco.


  • Hi! I am a newbie cook, and I just wanted to say hi. I have visited your blog a fair few times. You are inspiring…one of the reasons i have started a food blog. Thank you.

    I recently purchased the silver spoon cookbook, unfortunately i am at a lost on what to start with. Any suggestions? while you were browsing thru the cookbook, seeing it is on your wishlist. Or is there any recipe you would like me to post, so that you can give it a whirl before purchasing?

    Vanessa from Singapore

  • famdoz

    Clotilde, how do i say ‘veal shank’ to my butcher here in Paris?!

  • famdoz – “Jarret de veau en tranches” would be the magic words.

  • I followed this recipe for the most part, except the tomatoes and used red wine. The stew was very rich and really wonderful. My meat was tough, as it wasn´t veal…but cut up into tiny pieces it made a great soup!

    I also was fortunate enough to receive fresh laurel from my neighbour, my goodness what a huge difference when compared to the supermarket laurel.

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