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Oct 30, 2007 02:52 PM

Butcher with veal shanks for Osso Buco?

This is my first chow post - so thanks in advance for your help to a newbie. I fear I may be around too much, as everything here is a more interesting topic to me than my work...

My current problem:

I have gotten myself into this situation again. Last time, I ended up at a wholesale butcher with a small retail store, meat swinging past my head since the retail store is essentially nonexistent, getting the manager to call a friend at another warehouse to find me some veal shanks. This place did not even sell retail, but they made an exception for me. I won't lie, it had to do with the fact that I am female, but at that point, I put my feminism aside as I had promised my friends osso buco. It wasn't that good, it was frozen, and not nearly thick enough, but I was desperate for follow-through

I have been making it for a while, but it started when I lived in Wisconsin, and I had a handy group of suppliers. I moved (back) to Chicago and find that it is either hard to find, hard to find unfrozen, hard to find not already cut too thin, or so expensive I can't handle the ridiculousness.

My backup is Paulina Market - for other things I usually like the quality, but I categorically cringe at the prices, and I fear it will be frozen and disappointing for the $20 a pound (!!!).

Anyone know of a place where it might not be frozen, I might be able to get it cut to my chosen thickness, and it isn't so expensive?

I have tried to do some research here and elsewhere, but have yet to find something concrete. Any chance it might me at Minelli Bros, Caputo's, or some other place you like?

I am not afraid of the suburbs, nor of being surrounded by raw meat.

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  1. You shouldn't have any difficulty finding it at your nearest Whole Foods. For instance, just yesterday I spotted it in the meat case at WF's new Halsted store.

    But, if for some reason you don't care to shop at Whole Foods, and pricing is a real issue for you (precluding options like Fox & Obel), try Big Apple Finer Foods in Lincoln Park. I've purchased top-rate veal from them before.

    2345 N Clark St
    Chicago, IL 60614


    1 Reply
    1. re: Erik M

      There were veal shanks in Whole Foods? I have purchased veal there before, but never shanks. Whole Foods is expensive, but I am not above going there if they have something I need. I will call Fox & Obel, but I didn't guess they'd have shanks either.


    2. It might not be inexpensive, but Zier's in Wilmette is absolutely superb, and is my "go to" place for the very best meats around. They specialize in prime meats, including fresh meats as well as dry aged. That's where I would try.

      Zier's Prime Meats & Poultry
      813 Ridge Road
      Wilmette 60091

      1. It occurs for me as rather sad that something like veal shanks are now difficult to find in Chicago a reasonable prices. I'm not that old, but I know that I used to find them regularly -- as well as a lot of things besides chicken breasts, ground beef and steaks -- at my local Dominicks or Jewel. Organ meat, cube steaks, marrow bones, veal and lamb of all kinds used to be easily available.

        The dumbing down of the American kitchen -- rife with lots of pre-cooked options (I wanted to say "slop") says something about the direction we are going. Chowhounds are eager to find great restaurants in town. I'd like to know how some of you cope with the difficulty in finding wonderful things to prepare at home.

        1. Big Apple Market on Clark street has what you are looking for. Expensive but not over priced. Ask for Bill or Chuck and enjoy your veal dinner.

          1. Thanks for all of the replies. I actually called Caputo's on the advice of a coworker and the guy I spoke to in the meat dept was quite a character. Anyway, after some back-and-forth, he agreed to have the 6 meaty, 2" thick slices of shank ready for me Friday evening, as they get a delivery in the morning.

            I am excited to go there - I have never been, and it will probably be a one-stop shop for most of the things I need for the Osso Buco. For years I never had a car, so places like that were off my radar. I now have access to a car, so it's a whole new world...

            I will remember Big Apple Market though, I've been by, wondered, but never went in. I'll have to check it out soon.