This recipe for bone marrow stew ‘Ossobuco alla Milanese’ is a classic of Milanese cuisine and of Lombardy more generally. It seems to date from the eighteenth century when it already represented a classic of local gastronomy. By the 21st century it had literally travelled around the world, and every day it is still served and enjoyed in the restaurants and homes of Milan. What is special about ‘Ossobuco alla Milanese’ is the famous ‘gremolada’ of chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic that makes this such a tasty, aromatic and fragrant dish. Otherwise the essential characteristic is the tender veal, which must be no less than 3 or 4 cm thick and purchased from a butcher who will take the ‘ossibuchi’ from the tibia of a suckling calf. As an accompaniment this dish is usually served with the classic ‘Risotto alla Milanese’, that is with saffron, but an alternative is would be a lovely polenta, served steaming hot.
4 slices (300g each) of veal shank cut high in the lower part where the bone is small and filled only with marrow
In a large saucepan fry the onion in the butter, add the lightly floured ‘ossibuchi’, brown them on both sides – turning them over without ‘pricking’. Pour over a little stock, tomato and salt, cover the pan and cook over low heat for an hour and a half. Not more than five minutes before serving, mix the ‘gremolada’ - chopped lemon zest, parsley, garlic and anchovies - stir the gremolada in and, after a few minutes, serve with parmesan risotto or risotto ‘alla Milanese’.
Keep a little parsley plant on your balcony which will come in handy when you need to add a bit of freshness and flavour to your dishes, whether meat or fish.
The original recipe does not require the addition of fresh tomatoes nor tomato passata or even tomato paste. This addition took place in modern times to give more creaminess to the sauce and a touch of freshness.