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Osso Buco, Braised Veal Shanks

Serves 6 or 8
This is from the Time-Life Foods of the World Series on Italy and it is my favorite recipe for Osso Buco - maybe because it was the first one I ever prepared. You know how sentimental one can get about these things.
4   tablespoons butter
1 1/2   cups finely chopped onions
1/2   cup finely chopped carrots
1/2   cup finely chopped celery
1   teaspoon finely chopped garlic
6 to 7   pounds veal shank or shin, sawed - not chopped - into 8 pieces, each 2 1/2 inches long, and tied with string around their circumference
  Freshly ground black pepper
1/2   cup olive oil
1   cup dry white wine
1/2   teaspoon dried basil
3/4   cup beef or chicken stock, fresh or canned
1/2   teaspoon dried thyme
3   cups drained canned whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
6 parsley sprigs
2   bay leaves
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1   teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

    Choose a heavy shallow casserole or Dutch oven that has a tight cover and is just large enough to snugly hold the pieces of veal standing up in 1 layer. Melt the butter in the casserole over moderate heat and when the foam subsides, add the chopped onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly colored. Remove the casserole from the heat.

    Season the pieces of veal with salt and pepper, then roll them in flour and shake off the excess. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil until a haze forms over it. Brown the veal in the oil over moderately high heat, 4 or 5 pieces at a time, adding more oil as needed. Transfer the browned pieces to the casserole and stand them sided by side on top of the vegetables.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Now discard almost all of the fat from the skillet, leaving just a film on the bottom. Pour in the wine and boil it briskly over high heat until it is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Scrape in any browned bits clinging to the pan. Stir in the beef stock, basil, thyme, tomatoes, parsley sprigs and bay leaves and bring to a boil, then pour it all over the veal. The liquid should come halfway up the side of the veal; if it does not, add more stock. Bring the casserole to a boil on top of the stove. Cover and bake in the lower third of the oven, basting occasionally and regulating the oven heat to keep the casserole simmering gently. In about 1 hour and 15 minutes the veal should be tender; test it by piercing the meat with the tip of a sharp knife. To serve, arrange the pieces of veal on a heated platter and spoon the sauce and vegetables from the casserole around them. Sprinkle the top with gremolata - a piquant garnish made by mixing the grated lemon rind and chopped garlic and parsley together.

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