Slow cooked osso buco

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There’s no tricky technique involved when cooking osso buco. The steps are simple, the cooking is long and slow, and the end result is succulent meat that falls off the bone.

 

Osso bucco means bone with hole, and refers to the “cut of meat” used for this popular Italian dish. Thick slices are cut through the shinbone of veal or beef. I’ve used the more traditional veal in my recipe but have also cooked it with beef, which is just as delicious and a cheaper option to veal.

The combination of meat and bone means deep, rich flavours develop in the sauce. White wine can be substituted for the more robust red and two tins of crushed tomatoes will do the job if you don’t have passata (passata is also known as sugo, it’s a smooth, pureed tomato sauce). I’ve used rosemary and bay leaves for my herbs but feel free to substitute with fresh thyme or even fresh oregano.

 

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Although there’s rarely left overs from this dish, on the odd occasion that there are, osso buco makes a wonderful pasta sauce the next day. Pick the meat from the bone and slice into chunks and re heat in the sauce with a dash of water. Cook your favourite pasta shape to al dente and toss with the osso buco sauce.

For those of us in the middle of winter, I say ” turn the oven on, get a pot of osso buco cooking, and sit back and await the joy that is slow cooking”

 

Veal osso buco

 Ingredients

8 x pieces of veal osso buco

Plain flour to dust

Olive oil

6 French shallots (or 1 large red onion diced)

6 cloves garlic, halved

3 carrots

3 large sprigs rosemary

3 fresh bay leaves

1 cup red wine

1 x 700g bottle of tomato passata

1 cup beef stock

To serve

Mash potato

Steamed peas

 

Pre heat oven to 150C or 130C fan forced. Season veal with salt and pepper then lightly dust veal with flour. Heat an oven proof casserole dish with 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Seal veal in two batches till lightly coloured on all sides. Set veal aside on a tray.

Use the same pot with out washing it, heat 1 tbsp oil, add shallots, carrots, and garlic. Cook gently for 2 minutes. Add red wine, rosemary and bay leaves and reduce for 2 minutes.

Add beef stock, tomato passata and a large pinch of black pepper. Return veal to pan and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, place in the oven and cook for 2 hours.

Serve osso bucco with mash potato and steamed peas.

 

 

Chocolate and Beetroot Mini Cakes

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“Chocolate and beetroot!”, you may well scream, “Are you mad?” These two ingredients might seem unlikely companions, yet they work tremendously well baked together in a cake.

I want to feel that cake I’m eating is offering some sort of health benefit. It means I can eat more of it. So what does the beetroot do? It adds fibre, and antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, and cleanses the liver. It’s a super food. And that’s enough reasons for me to bake with it.

 

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If you have fussy eaters who may not be adventurous to try this combination, just don’t tell them. Like me, you might accidentally forget to mention the inclusion of beetroot, and in most cases, your guests will be non the wiser. You can then take great delight in announcing afterwards that they have just eaten chocolate cake packed with beetroot.

They might just thank you for it.

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Chocolate and Beetroot Mini Cakes

Ingredients

For the cup cakes

100g chocolate – 70% cocoa, chopped into small pieces

150g softened butter

1 cup caster sugar

2 free range eggs

1 cup grated beetroot (2 small beetroot, peeled)

1 cup plain flour

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bi carb

1/3 cup milk

For the chocolate icing

100ml thickened cream

100g chocolate -70% cocoa, chopped finely

Pre heat oven to 180C or 160C fan forced. Line a 12 holed, ½ cup capacity muffin mould with paper cup cake liners. Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a shallow pot of simmering water. Stir and melt chocolate till smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Cream together butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scrapping bowl between additions. Add grated beetroot and combine.

Sift flour, baking powder and bi carb onto butter and beetroot mix. Add milk and beat till combined. Pour in melted chocolate and mix till well combined.

Divide cupcake mix between the 12 cupcake cases. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside on a baking rack to cool.

For the ganache icing, heat thickened cream in a small saucepan, turn off the heat just before it comes to the boil. Add the chopped chocolate, stand for 1 minute, then stir till chocolate melts and ganache is smooth. Stand for 10 minutes. Spread icing onto cooled mini cakes. Store left over cup cakes in a sealed container in the fridge.