Until last week, I had never tried the classic Milanese dish, osso buco, let alone made it myself. It's something I have been intent on cooking for some time, but the main ingredient, thick slices of veal shin, have eluded me. I have never been interested in making a variation on with a substitute for the veal, such as pork- I wanted to try the real thing. My butcher had osso buco in stock the other week- this is not a regular occurrence, so I took the opportunity to buy what I could.
I mentioned wanting to try the real thing- osso buco is one of those dishes that has a lot of dispute on how to cook it the correct way- namely, whether or not tomatoes should be added to the dish. I am not an experienced enough cook to join in on this debate, so I went with the advice of Anna Del Conte, who is both Milanese and author of some of my favourite cookery books. She is very clear on her opinion that tomatoes should not be added to osso buco. I wouldn't rule out trying it, as I would like to be able to form my own opinion on the great tomato debate, but veal is a bit too expensive for me to buy often enough to experiment.
I served the osso buco with the it's classic pairing, risotto alla Milanese. The recipe I used suggested using some beef marrow into the risotto, which I sadly do not have a ready supply of- I used the listed substitution of pancetta. The big slices of veal I had, did hold a lot of wonderful, creamy marrow, which was a real treat, especially with a sprinkling of sea salt on it- so I didn't feel I was missing out by not using marrow in the risotto too.
The recipe I used is here. I only had 4 slices of osso buco, but I kept the other ingredients in the same quantities. It meant I had a lot of leftover cooking liquid, but it was so delicately delicious that the remaining juices got eaten the next day with just some bread to soak it up.