“My bologna has a first name its O-s-c-a-r, my bologna has a second name its M-a-y-e-r. Oh I love to eat it every day, and if you ask me why i’ll sayyyyy, cause Oscar Mayer has a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a!!!” I can still sing that commercial even though I haven’t seen it in years. I loved bologna as a kid, whether my mom put in on Wonder Bread with some Gulden’s mustard, or I just grabbed it out of that signature Oscar Mayer container and rolled it up I couldn’t get enough of it. It was my families go to cold cut, we didn’t look for Boars Head brand back then. I cant even remember going to the deli counter, we found our cold cuts in the refrigerator section at Pathmark next to the bacon. Somewhere as we get older, our tastes change, or at least I know mine has. I can’t remember the last time I had bologna. Instead of that simple pleasure that was always in our fridge growing up, my family will take the extra effort to order cold cuts from a specific store just because they carry Boars Head. Where I was once excited to receive a bologna and mustard on wonder bread masterpiece from my mom, my tastes now prefer a sandwich laden with one of Boars Head’s specialty cuts like their pastrami or buffalo turkey. Wonder Bread has been replaced by selections like Martins Potato Bread, or a fresh baked roll from the nearby grocery. Instead of Gulden’s spicy brown mustard I reach for Dukes mayonnaise to add the finishing touches to the epicurean delights I am creating.
My boys were no different when they were toddlers; we, like most parents, leaned on foods like chicken nuggets, and hotdogs to bridge the gap from jarred baby foods to real food. It was easier than fighting with them every night at dinner, and the empty plates let us all know they enjoyed each meal. Don’t get me wrong, my two teenagers still love a good Dino Nugget, and favorites like pizza and Chick-fil-a are still met with smiles, but if asked what they would like for dinner the responses I receive are sure signs that I am raising young men with evolved tastes. Over the past year I have had much more time at home to think about meal planning, and to offer my family a growing assortment of meals. Instead of getting home around 6pm and putting together dinner from whatever’s in the fridge, I now look forward to each day’s family meal, and since we are having all of our groceries delivered, I need to plan days in advance to be sure I have the right ingredients. New family favorites like smoked brisket, ribs and pork shoulder have taken the place of eating out. We, like others, relied on takeout far too often before Covid. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to eat as much, if not more than the next person. Working in sales going out to lunch was part of almost every day, but our new reality calls for new norms. Before Covid, we had gotten to a point that our busy lives had us eating take out at least twice a week for dinner if not more. Now I look forward to serving my family meals that are healthier, and I think far tastier. One meal that was an instant winner was Osso Bucco. To be honest, I can’t remember ever having Osso Bucco before making it for my family. I knew what it was, I had even prepared it while working in restaurants, but I had never sat down for a plate of it. Oh what I was missing! This dish is so filled with flavor that I am almost drooling as I type this. Served over mashed potatoes, this meal will not disappoint.
- 6 (1- to 1 1/2-inch-thick) pieces of beef or lamb shank
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped small
- 3 medium carrots, chopped small
- 2 celery rib, chopped small
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (235ml) dry white wine
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 -28-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Season shanks all over with salt and pepper.
- In a large Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, lightly dredge shanks all over in flour, shaking off excess, and add to Dutch oven. Cook shanks, turning occasionally, until lightly browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side; lower heat as necessary at any point to prevent scorching. Transfer browned shanks to a platter and repeat with remaining shanks; add more oil to Dutch oven at any point if it becomes too dry.
- Add butter to Dutch oven, along with onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until vegetables are softened and just starting to turn a light golden color, about 6 minutes.
- Add wine, stock, and tomatoes to Dutch oven, along with veal shanks and any accumulated juices. Try to arrange the shanks in as even a layer as possible (a little overlap is okay to make them fit). The liquid should nearly but not totally cover the shanks; if it doesn’t, add more stock or water until it does. Add thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer.
- Continue cooking until they are fork-tender, about 1 hour longer. Evaporation and reduction are good, but the gravy is part of what makes this dish extraordinary so feel free to add more stock if needed.
- Carefully transfer shanks to a platter. (Using a spatula and tongs together can help prevent them from falling apart.) Using a spoon, carefully scrape off any excess fat on surface of braising juices. The liquid should be saucy and thick; you can adjust the consistency by adding either water or stock to thin the sauce, or simmering it on the stovetop until more fully reduced. Discard thyme and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve shanks on plates, spooning braising sauce on top of each shank. Make sure to offer small spoons for scooping out marrow from bones. Marrow doesn’t look great, but it tastes amazing.