For the love of bones

Have you ever stood in front of the meat counter thinking, “are there normal people who really know what all of this stuff is?” And then you keep walking until you get to the heat and serve section with the chicken nuggets.
I’m telling you that was me until I got my first job cooking, and this girl half my size was pulling osso buco out of the oven in pans two foot square, and the smell of the pan juices could make you sit down in the middle of your job and beg for a piece of bread to dip and a plate, and I swore to myself there and then that I was going to learn how to make a piece of meat bigger than a nugget, and maybe even with a bone in it. The commitment that you have to make to a piece of meat with a sizeable bone is a big one, but the pay off is tremendous. Pick a day when you have nothing to do and you feel like you could part the Red Sea for your loved ones, because you love them that much, or invite your best friend over.
Osso buco, which means mouth of the bone, is loved for it’s marrow. All the stuff in the center cooks into a smoothness of the gods by the time the whole thing is done, and you just dip your spoon in there and spread it on bread or eat it straight. Buy six veal hind shanks (or beef, cut a little more thinly). Season them well with kosher salt on both sides, and sprinkle them with a little flour. Heat up some of your best olive oil, and brown them, really brown them until they are the color of a chestnut. Remove them from the pan, and add a pound of diced carrot, the inside of a head of celery, also diced, and two onions, diced, with a little more olive oil. I like to get about three cloves of garlic beautifully golden before the vegetables go in, and then add them with a quarter cup of chopped fresh parsely. Cook them for a good twenty minutes, and then make a little space to add a few Tablespoons of tomato paste. Let it get right on the bottom of the pan for a few seconds to toast it. Add a cup of white wine, and let it cook down for a minute. Transfer the meat to a large baking pan. Spoon the vegetable mixture over. Add some chicken broth or veal broth that you made yourself (chicken necks and wings, a carrot, a piece of celery, an onion, a garlic clove and some parsely) to come up about an inch from the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with foil, make some slits in it, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about three hours, or until the meat is incredibly tender, and falls easily from the bone with the help of a fork. Baste every twenty minutes, turning the meat when you baste, and being sure that there is always about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pan. Serve with polenta that has plenty of parmesan and butter, and cavalo nero (black cabbage), savoy cabbage, or spinach with garlic. Get the wine out, and the candles and the cloth napkins, and the music on, and take all night to eat.

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