One favorite recipe to make at this time of year for holiday parties is Veal Osso Bucco – a hearty dish of braised veal shanks topped with a lemon-garlic gremolata (an easy condiment topping made from parsley, garlic and lemon zest). Osso Bucco can be made ahead of time and holds well in the refrigerator for a day or two, so is a good choice when you are looking for a festive dinner party dish. It can also serve you well in your weekly menu lineup, since you can make in larger quantities, and later reheat and serve without any noticeable reduction in flavor or texture.
I don’t make Veal Osso Bucco very often. For one thing, it can be a little hard to find the correct cut of meat unless you make a special request from your local butcher. For another, some people are philosophically/politically opposed to eating veal so you need to know where your guests stand on this topic, if this is likely to be a concern. Veal Osso Bucco can also be a little tough on the pocketbook since veal shanks can be a little pricey, depending on your market.
One solution to these issues is to make this as a vegetarian dish by using cauliflower steaks as the “meat.” Cauliflower Osso Bucco is a tasty alternative if you are trying to eat more of a plant-based diet because of your philosophic or political views, for your health, to help your budget, or other reasons. (Out of convenience, I call the vegetarian version Osso Bucco too, even though there is no meat involved.)
About Bone Marrow…
Osso Bucco means “hollow bone” which references the shank cut of meat used for the veal version of the dish. The marrow found in the middle of the bone is considered a delicacy to savor once the meat has been eaten; make sure to include small “marrow spoons” (or a suitable equivalent) in your table setting if you are serving the traditional (non-vegetarian) version of this dish.
Bone marrow is high in fat, and an ounce of bone marrow provides around 2 grams of protein, 26 grams of fat and 244 calories. (In comparison, an ounce of boneless, skinless chicken breast has around 6 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 34 calories.) As a result, it is probably best to eat bone marrow as a “sometimes” food, if it is a food you enjoy.