Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 6, 2008 10:39 AM

Making Buffalo Osso Buco... flavors?

I'm making a buffalo osso buco for a dinner party this Saturday. I've never cooked with Buffalo before, but know it's an incredibly lean meat, and so must cook it slower and lower.

My question is, what flavors should I add to a basic osso buco recipe, since it's usually made with veal? I'm thinking already of adding juniper berries, but what else should I add to really complement the flavor of the buffalo? Also, am thinking of doing the gremolata with orange zest instead of lemon zest -- I don't know why, just think it may go better.

Any ideas would be grand!

PS I'm serving this with a side dish of roasted sweet and purple potatoes, and a simple Arugula salad.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What will you be using as the braising liquid? I might suggest using a dark, slightly malty beer.

    Your ideas for juniper berries and orange I think sound terrific.

    1. if there are no dietary restrictions, i highly rec getting some porky-goodness into the bison-ob. some nice thick fried bacon or speck will add some needed fattiness and bring out the meaty flavors. i agree that dark malty beer for braising would be good-- made a nontraditional grassfed beef osso buco stew with some surly bender & parsnips this week, and it was great. juniper and orange sound good!

      1. In Italy a rustic way of cooking beef shanks is peposo. In simplest form, associated with tile makers in Impruneta, is to cook the meat and bones with wine (chianti), garlic, and lots of black pepper. This produces a dish with chili like hotness. Other versions move it in the direction of the veal shanks, or a French beef bourgonion, by including vegetables that cook down.

        2 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          I LOVE the idea of adding bacon! Didn't think of that. And the dark malty beer is a great idea -- still can't decide whether to use that or red wine -- what do you think?

          Also -- when should I add the bacon? Last half hour, or earlier?

          Thanks so much everyone!

          1. re: tmemedia

            Usually when making a stew, bacon (or other fatty pork product) is diced and rendered at the start, with the onions or before. The leaner beef is then browned in the pork fat.

        2. Giada has a recipe for Osso Buco that she makes with Turkey to cut down on the fat somewhat. There might be some ideas that you could use from there.

          8 Replies
          1. re: newfoodie

            i think this is the recipe Newfoodie means


            imho this recipe misses the point of osso buco (bone with a hole)-- long-simmered stew with the flavor of the marrow, from the inside of the bone of a ruminant animal. the properties of the long-simmered shanks are the main body-and-flavor producing, and thickening agent in a real osso buco, and the long simmer also tenderizes a tougher cut of meat. the giada recipe otoh is just another braised fowl/turkey recipe, with a quick cooking time compared to osso buco. sounds good, but call it braised turkey with gremolata, or oven-baked turkey soup, not osso buco, since the flavor & texture of the broth will be way off, and would disappoint anyone expecting real osso buco--or am i being too cranky?

            anyway bison is lower-fat than turkey (arguably grass-fed bison is *way* healthier than commercially raised turkey), and if bacon is added, then it's a wash somewhat. if it were me, i'd fry the bacon in the heavy braising pan, remove (drain/reserve), pour off excess bacon fat, brown the bison pieces, remove those (reserve), fry the onions, followed by the other vegetables, herbs & aromatics, in the same pan/bacon fat, omitting any other fat called for in the original recipe, then add the bacon, bison pieces, and other sauce ingredients back into the pot, and proceed as normal/per regular recipe.

            1. re: soupkitten

              Yes that is the recipe, yes I agree that it isn't a traditional osso buco.

              I suuposed that the intent was to make a healthier version of osso buco by using buffalo (or turkey). But if tmemedia is trying make the buffalo osso buco taste really authentic, then certainly the idea of using bacon is right on. Let us know how it works tmemedia!

              1. re: newfoodie

                oh, now i get what you were thinking, wrt fat, Newfoodie. --& i was thinking that if it's the op's first attempt at cooking bison, it might be a little dry/leaner than s/he's used to, & maybe s/he wouldn't like the results of the recipe w/o some added fat to get things going-- that's why i suggested the bacon-- not to make it all super rich & fatty. cool. i *knew* i was being too cranky :)

                1. re: soupkitten

                  You all have been SO helpful. I like the idea of frying up the bacon, removing it, then using the bacon fat to sear the bison, onions, herbs and veg. I wonder if pancetta would be ok? The butcher where I just picked up my bison had some lovely pancetta, and I bought it, but I also bought some hickory smoked bacon. So let me know if the pancetta would be the wrong move.

                  I'm using bison not so much because it's so healthy (although that's a plus), but because I'm having a dinner party for a Spanish guest of honor visiting the US, and I wanted to serve an "American" menu. I love osso buco for dinner parties because it's so easy to serve, and the substitution of bison for veal I thought would make it American.

                  I'm starting with bacon wrapped shrimp and cheese grits as a first course (very small plates!)
                  Then serving the bison osso buco with roasted yams and purple potatoes, along with a simple Arugula and grape tomato salad (I know, not really American but I love Arugula).
                  Dessert will be pecan pie with my own homemade Margarita ice cream (a Nigella recipe that is to die for and supremely easy)
                  Any other ideas and helpful hints would be greatly appreciated!

                  1. re: tmemedia

                    Pancetta is more Italian, smoke bacon more American in character. Some people have strong opinions about substituting smoked bacon for the unsmoked in dishes like pasta carbonara. But in more complex stew like this, the smoked flavor may not be noticeable.

                    1. re: tmemedia

                      thx for the details Tmemedia--

                      i'm gonna go with a pancetta preference on the osso buco. ideally the bacon/pork will melt into the dish, unobtrusively adding flavor and "meaty" savoriness, enhancing the bison flavor without dominating at all. i think that hickory smoke is a strong flavor that cuts through, and that it might give the stew an off flavor that would detract-- particularly since it's such a unique american flavor-- & your spanish guest may not be familiar with it or be able to identify the flavor. i'm sure s/he would be interested to taste the hickory bacon if that's what you used to wrap the shrimp, though-- where the flavor would be dominant, not a supporting layer. that's my two cents, or maybe more like 20 by now ;-P

                      your menu sounds fabulous. i'm sure everything will be lovely.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        While the best Spanish ham is not smoked, they do like some smoky items. Smoked paprika is an obvious example. Paella cooked over a wood fire is supposed to pick up some smokiness from the fire. 'Spain, on the road again' has had several grilling-over-vine-trimmings meals.

                        A lot of American bacon is sweet in addition to being smoky. In fact the sweet side may be more prominent.

                        Also regarding that bacon, you might want to look at the recent thread about explaining american bacon to a Brit. It sounds as though crisp fried streaky bacon may be a uniquely American thing. A BLT might be the best way of showcasing a good smoked bacon - if you can get good tomatoes and mayo.

                        1. re: paulj

                          Thanks AGAIN -- pancetta it is. I agree the hickory smoked bacon would be better with the shrimp, that's where I was leaning, but was dithering.

                          I can't thank all of you enough!

            2. I make a recipe from an old F&W mag that call for all the traditional ingredients but uses 2 cups of white vermouth as an alternative to white wine - it is absolutely delicious. Made it a couple of weeks ago and people have raved ever since.