What is Ossobuco?

Ossobuco is veal shank with its characteristic marrow-rich bone

This is my late Nonna Wanda’s version of Ossobuco alla Milanese (Milanese Style Osso Buco).  It always used to my favourite meal when I went to visit her in Rome.  I’d get so excited when she brought it to the table and lifted the lid, releasing the aromatic scent of parsley and lemon.

I used to think it was an almost magical recipe that must be really complicated, but of course, as much Italian food, it’s really simple to make with great quality ingredients – and therein lies the magic.  Luckily for me, my Aunt Emilia has kept my Nonna Wanda’s culinary traditions alive and is gradually passing on the recipes to me so that I can share them and keep them going.

It’s still not that easy in the UK to get hold of Ossobuco, but I’ve been able to get mine online here.  It’s not a budget dish, but if you compare it to going out for a meal in a restaurant, it’s still exceptionally good value.

Ossobuco alla milanese | osso buco milanese style | osso buco | What is ossobuco

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 4 Veal Ossobuco pieces (approx. 0.8-1.2kg in total)
  • Butter, generous amount, approx 70-100g
  • Flour, enough to give the meat a generous coating
  • Stock, you can use vegetable or chicken stock, nothing that would overpower the delicate taste of the veal ossobuco.  I used home-made hen stock on this occasion. You will need just enough to cover the ossobuco pieces in the pan.
  • Flat-leaf Parsley, a good handful, coarsely chopped
  • Lemon Rind, finely-grated, from one large lemon
  • Anchovy Paste, a small amount, approximately 1tsp


Each piece of ossobuco has a thin fat layer that holds it together in its characteristic shape.  Cut through this in a few places to stop the ossobuco pieces curling up during cooking, then coat each piece generously in plain white flour.

Heat the butter in a deep sauté pan or shallow casserole dish.  As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the ossobuco pieces and seal on both sides.

Pour enough hot stock over the pieces of meat to just cover them.  Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat, leaving them to simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the meat is tender and the marrow is starting to seep out of the bone (don’t cook it so long that it seeps out – one of the great things about this dish is sucking the marrow out of the hole in the bone!).

While the meat is cooking, coarsely chop the flat-leaf parsley and grate the zest of one large lemon.  Mix this with the anchovy paste.

Once the meat is cooked, add the parsley, lemon and anchovy paste to the pan, gently stir (or simply turn over the pieces of ossobuco), replace the lid and simmer for a further couple of minutes.

Serve immediately with mashed potato, pouring a generous amount of the velvety sauce over the meat and potatoes.  My grandmother always used to make little wells in the mashed potato with the back of a spoon, then fill the wells with sauce.  Enjoy the delicious meat, then pick up the bone and suck out the rich marrow!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

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