I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Osso Buco. It probably didn’t run in my circles or something, besides it is usually veal and it is extremely hard to justify how those supermarket calves are raised. But even back in the days decades ago when we ate veal Parmesan, Osso Buco was just something we heard about, but apparently never tried, as far as I can recollect.
Nowadays you can occasionally find humanely raised veal, not reared up in a crate separated from mama, and I’ve tried some, but I’ve never ended up with a shank of veal.
But I do have an un-smoked pork hock. The hock is the piggy equivalent of the shank.
With a smoked hock, I’d probably wait until I could scare up some collard greens at a farmer’s market (ie, wait another year) and create my fave southern dish. Or at least my fave southern dish with its soul somewhere north and east of New Orleans.
I bought the hock on a whim through my meat CSA. Odd cuts are cheap, for one. And flavorful, despite usually needing a long cook time. It remained in my freezer until a couple days ago. And then I wondered? What would I like to do with it? Pork and beans? Naw, not for a good pasture-raised porker! Well, at least not this time! Soup? Porcine bone broth? I have some pig’s feet in my freezer for just that occurrence, so not this time. Fresh pork hock and cabbage? I have cabbage available, but I have other plans for that. Not this time… Besides cabbage almost cries out piteously for the pork to be smoked.
Yes, osso buco is a Milanese Italian dish associated with veal, or at the very least, beef. But “Osso Buco” doesn’t mean “Veal”, although the dish is intrinsically associated with veal — the phrase means “Bone with a Hole”, according to Wikipedia.
Being porcine, the flavors will definitely be different, I’m certain. But that doesn’t matter. It may still be an honorable way to treat the pig. However, let it be noted I will have no way to compare it to the veal version, since as noted I doubt I’ve ever eaten that.
Note: For the same approximate size veal shank to pork hock, there’s more of a bone to meat ratio in the pork hock. I noted this by looking at the veal shanks in my local supermarket a couple days ago.
Prep time: 40 minutes including browning
Cook time: slow cooker 6-7 hours on low
Rest time: 15 minutes
Serves 2-3 including some soup
Pork Hock-Inspired “Osso Buco”
* 1.33 pounds pork hock, bone in. (Hey, you can always sub in veal!)
* 1/2 medium/large onion, nicely diced.
* 1 stalk celery, nicely diced.
* 1 regular-sized parsnip (or carrot), peeled and sliced thin.
* 1/4 cup (or less) coconut flour. PS, the coconut flour didn’t add any coconut flavorings.)
* 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced.
* 2-3 large plum tomatoes, diced.
* 1 cup boxed low sodium veggie broth (or homemade).
* 1/2 cup dry white wine – Pinot Grigio might be appropriate. Nothing fancy or expensive.
* 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
* 4 good sprigs of fresh thyme.
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.
* Salt and Pepper to taste.
And then there is the traditional gremolata, which you can use to top the dish off, or not:
* 1-2 anchovies packed in olive oil, and finely chopped up..
* Zest from one lemon, in small pieces
* 2 large cloves garlic, minced.
* a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped.
Making your osso buco:
Pat dry and then season your pork shank / hock with salt and pepper all around. Roll it in the flour until all surfaces are covered. (If you do use a veal shank, it seems you may need to tie it together before doing anything else, with twine. That’s what all the recipes say. The pork hock doesn’t need such help.)
Using a pat of butter in your skillet, heat it to mid-high. Add the hock, browning it on all sides, about 3-5 minutes a side depending on your heat level.
Add the onions, celery and parsnips (carrots if using) to the slow cooker, then place the hock in, on top of the veggies.
Use some of the wine to de-glaze your skillet, and with your spatula transfer these contents to the crock pot.
Add everything else except the gremolata ingredients to the slow cooker pot.
Cover and cook in the slow cooker for about 6-7 hours on low.
When close to being ready, prepare the gremolata by mixing the ingredients together. For a finer topping than I made, use a mini food processor, or better yet, chop more finely. (It was now a little later at night than I’d planned, and I was impatient to dine!)
Remove the hock, and place on a platter, discarding the thyme sprigs. Add a few scoops of the veggies and sauce over it.
Then top with some of the gremolata.
Serve with a tasty side salad dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Pork hocks as previously mentioned are mostly bone — this recipe serves one or two depending on sides with enough sauce left over for a small soup on a subsequent day. (So, use more than one hock and double or triple the recipe!) You can also find a larger pork shank than I had to hand – I remember one Octoberfest at a local German restaurant where they came out with the intensely-sized roasted pig hock!
I did turn this particular dish into two servings with a judicious use of sides. And some of the juices and remaining veggies in the crock pot made a nice small serving of soup, too.
It is traditional to serve veal osso buco with risotto — but frankly, I don’t like soggy rice; I like my rice Indian, Japanese or Thai-styled. Perhaps a different tradition with pork? (Maybe pan-fried unsweetened apple slices with some nutmeg or allspice???) At any rate, I passed, and went with salad.
I surfed down several recipes to develop this; this one probably had the most impact on the above dish, but I wanted to use non-canned plum tomatoes, and when I discovered gremolata traditionally contains anchovies, I decided to incorporate those, too. Slow Cooker Osso Buco.