Ossobuco is a mouthwatering Italian dish that has gained popularity worldwide for its rich flavors and tender meat. This traditional recipe, originating from Milan, is a true culinary masterpiece that combines succulent veal shanks with aromatic vegetables and a flavorful sauce. In this article, we will explore the history of ossobuco, its key ingredients, the cooking process, and some tips to make the perfect ossobuco at home.

The History of Ossobuco

Ossobuco, which translates to “bone with a hole,” is believed to have originated in the late 19th century in Milan, Italy. The dish was created as a way to utilize the tougher cuts of meat, specifically veal shanks, which were traditionally discarded or used for making stock.

Over time, ossobuco gained popularity and became a staple in Milanese cuisine. It was traditionally served during special occasions and festive gatherings. The dish’s popularity eventually spread beyond Milan, and today, it is enjoyed in various parts of Italy and around the world.

The Key Ingredients

To make a delicious ossobuco, you will need the following key ingredients:

  • 4 veal shanks, about 2 inches thick
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup beef or veal broth
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Cooking Process

Now that we have the ingredients ready, let’s dive into the cooking process:

  1. Start by seasoning the veal shanks with salt and pepper. Then, coat them in flour, shaking off any excess.
  2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the veal shanks on all sides until they develop a golden crust. This step helps seal in the flavors and juices.
  3. Once the veal shanks are browned, remove them from the skillet and set them aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the chopped onion, carrots, celery, and minced garlic. Sauté the vegetables until they become tender and fragrant.
  5. Pour in the white wine and let it simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef or veal broth, bay leaf, and rosemary sprig to the skillet. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Return the veal shanks to the skillet, making sure they are partially submerged in the sauce. Cover the skillet and let it simmer over low heat for about 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat becomes tender and easily falls off the bone.
  8. Once the ossobuco is cooked, remove the veal shanks from the skillet and set them aside. Skim off any excess fat from the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
  9. Serve the ossobuco hot, placing a veal shank on each plate and spooning the sauce and vegetables over the top. It is traditionally served with risotto alla Milanese, polenta, or mashed potatoes.

Tips for the Perfect Ossobuco

To elevate your ossobuco to the next level, consider the following tips:

  • Use high-quality veal shanks from a trusted butcher. The meat should be fresh and well-marbled.
  • Allow the veal shanks to come to room temperature before cooking. This ensures even cooking and tender meat.
  • For a deeper flavor, you can add a splash of red wine or a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the sauce.
  • Consider garnishing the ossobuco with gremolata, a mixture of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. This adds a fresh and vibrant touch to the dish.


1. Can I use a different type of meat instead of veal shanks?

While veal shanks are the traditional choice for ossobuco, you can experiment with other meats such as beef or pork shanks. However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture may differ from the authentic ossobuco.

2. Can I make ossobuco in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can adapt the ossobuco recipe for a slow cooker. Simply follow the same steps of browning the meat and sautéing the vegetables before transferring everything to the slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender.

3. Can I freeze leftover ossobuco?

Absolutely! Ossobuco freezes well and can be stored for up to 3 months. Allow the dish to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or freezer bags. When ready to enjoy, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently on the stovetop.

4. What are some suitable side dishes to serve with ossobuco?

Ossobuco pairs well with various side dishes, including risotto alla Milanese, polenta, mashed potatoes, or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce. You can also serve it with a fresh green salad to balance the richness of the dish.

5. Can I make ossobuco in advance?

Yes, ossobuco can be made in advance and tastes even better the next day as the flavors have time to meld together. Simply store it in the refrigerator and reheat gently on the stovetop before serving.


Ossobuco is a traditional Italian dish that has captivated food lovers around the world. With its tender veal shanks, aromatic vegetables, and flavorful sauce, it is a true delight for the senses. By following the steps outlined in this article and incorporating the tips provided, you can create a delicious ossobuco that will impress your family and friends. So, gather the ingredients, roll up your


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