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This dish is perfect for entertaining as the osso buco and rice can be cooked or prepared in advance.

  • For the osso buco:
  • 4 thickly cut osso buco slices (cross-cut veal shanks); 1.5 kg in total (you can use thickly cut shin or shanks)
  • 2 tablespoonsplain flour
  • 40 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 40 g butter, optional
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 lemon zest strips
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • For the gremolata:
  • 2 lemon zest strips, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

You’ll also need kitchen string.

Season the osso buco well with salt and pepper.
Cut pieces of string long enough to tie around each piece of meat (thick osso buco slices are easier to tie than thinner ones).
Tie firmly into rounds to help them keep their shape as they cook, then sprinkle the flour all over.

Use a deep frying pan that‘s large enough to fit the meat snugly in a single layer.

Heat the pan with a little of the olive oil over medium heat, then add the meat and brown all over (proper browning takes at least 20 – 30 minutes).
If the meat isn’t browning, add the butter, which will help to caramelise; give it a further minute on each side after adding the butter.

Add all the remaining osso buco ingredients, except the stock.
Nestle the veg under the meat, then cook on a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 160°C.
Add the stock, and some water if necessary, to the pan to come two-thirds of the way up the meat.
Set the lid on top of the pan, then cook in the oven for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and starting to fall apart. (Alternatively you can simmer on the lowest heat on the hob.)
Check occasionally, adding more water if necessary.
Taste to make sure it has enough salt.

Increase the heat towards the end of the osso buco cooking time to thicken the sauce. Remove and discard the string from the osso buco. Combine all the gremolata ingredients in a small bowl, scatter over the osso buco, then serve with the saffron rice.

Make ahead:
Cook the osso buco up to 3 days in advance; keep covered in the fridge. Reheat in the oven until piping hot and scatter over gremolata to serve.
Or freeze for up to 3 months in a sealed container.

Ask your butcher to saw the osso buco into ‘double-cut’ (double thickness) slices, at least 5 cm thick.
If you can’t get hold of osso buco, the closest you could get is beef shin, pork or lamb shank if you prefer, but veal is the most authentic.

  • Saffron rice:
  • 3 cups good quality chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chilli, optional
  • 1 squeeze of lemon (or lime) juice
  • 1 ½ cup white rice
  • salt to taste

Rinse rice well under cold water.
Pour stock over rice, add turmeric, chilli, lemon juice and saffron threads. Stir well.
Cover with lid and put on stove over medium heat. Bring to the boil.
Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed, taste for salt and if necessary add more.
Turn off the heat when liquid is gone, place your lid on tightly.
Allow your pot to remain on the burner for another 5 – 10 minutes or until you’re ready to eat.

Recipe and photos: Amanda Conradie

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