The second month of winter is nearly over here in the Southern Hemisphere, which means:
1) nights are cold and it still gets dark early
2) there’s still some way to go before some of our favourite fruit and vegetables are back in season
2) there’s plenty of time to enjoy some great winter classics and fill the Bistro Gerard kitchen with the wonderful aromas of food that’s been slowly simmered for hours
We don’t cook osso bucco very often, because we do not tend to eat huge quantities of meat. However, this is just one of those quintessential winter dishes that we must try at least once or twice during the cold season. The rich tomato and wine based gravy is the perfect accompaniment to a lovely mash – add to this a combination of colourful stewed vegetables and meat and you’ve got comfort food at its best.
Like most dishes of this type, the first stages can be rather time-consuming, as the ingredients are added gradually, so this is best left for the weekend or any other occasion when you’ve got some time on your hands.
You can make this very meaty or less so, depending on your personal preferences and eating habits. We have found this a perfect dish for using meat as a condiment, as the long cooking time for this particular cut will still impart a wonderful meaty flavour. It’s also a great opportunity to use different seasonal vegetables. Chef Gerald is a great fan of the “eat a rainbow every day” concept. The benefits of eating a variety of differently coloured fruits and vegetables daily are well known. Without going into too much technical detail here, the principle behind this theory is quite simple: different colours mean different types of essential nutrients, so eating a large variety every day will ensure you get a mix of these goodies. You can read more on this topic here, or you can follow Chef Gerald’s example of raiding the fridge every time you cook and using as many different things as possible.
Chef Gerald is also a great fan of winter leafy vegetables, with rainbow chard being his absolute favourite at the moment. For the sake of variety, however, this time Mummy used some cavolo nero, which we found to greatly complement the whole dish and the mash.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 pieces osso bucco
2 large or 3 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
200 g field or brown mushrooms
200 g black olives
1 bunch cavolo nero
700 ml tomato puree
250 ml red wine
125 ml sherry
2 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp capers
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
Leaves from ½ bunch basil
Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the osso bucco and fry for 2 -3 minutes on each side, until well browned. Remove and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes on high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the anchovies and cook for a minute or so, until the anchovies have dissolved.
Add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to change colour. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms change colour and start to release their juices.
Pour the wine, sherry and tomato puree into the pan and bring to the boil. Add the capers, olives, thyme, basil leaves and osso bucco to the pan, cover with a lid and simmer for approximately 2 hours, until the meat is very tender and falls off the bone.
In the mean time, wash the cavolo nero, trim the stalks off and shred the leaves. Heat a large frying pan on moderate – high heat and add the shredded cavolo nero leaves. Cook until the leaves are wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated (2 – 3 minutes). Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches – maintaining just one layer of leaves in the pan will ensure that the leaves cook quickly, maintaining a vibrant colour and good flavour. When the osso bucco stew has finished cooking, gently fold in the cooked cavolo nero. You could add the raw cavolo nero straight to the stew pot and cook for approximately 5 – 10 minutes, however this will increase the liquid content of your stew and make it a lot thinner.
Season to taste with salt and pepper – we found the salt in the anchovies, olives and capers was sufficient. Serves 5 – 6. Best accompanied by mash. The Bistro Gerard recipe for potato and celeriac mash follows.
To make creamy potato and celeriac mash, you will need:
1 medium sized sweet potato
4 medium sized potatoes (a floury variety is best)
1 celeriac root
1 – 2 tbsp double/thick cream
150 – 200ml milk
Peel the vegetables and cut them into large chunks. Place in a sauce pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook, covered, for approximately 15 minutes, until cooked through. Drain all the water and mash with a potato masher or, for a very fine result, you can try using a hand held blender. Add the cream and milk (the quantity of milk will vary depending on your vegetables and the desired consistency, so it’s best to add it gradually) and mix with a spoon until the liquids have been incorporated and the mash has reached your desired consistency.