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Osso Buco question- Braise on bone or in slices?

I would usually just cook the shanks on the bone, but since I am making this dish for 20 people, I figure if it's on the bone I won't be able to fill it in my braiser.

My butcher told me to get it off the bone and he would slice the meat in around 1.5 inch slices.

Is this a bad idea? I don't want to have to buy another braising pot, the one I have is expensive!

Also, if I keep the slices stacked almost to the top of the pot, is that problematic?

Thanks in advance for the help, I don't want to screw it up.

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  1. I don't think you would call it osso buco if it's not cooked on the bone. It wouldn't develop the same full flavor or texture, and you wouldn't have the marrow from the bones. I would cook it in two separate pots, or in one or more large roasting pans.

    1. I have to agree with kitty food - I just don't think you would get the same flavor if you braised without the bone. I would definitely split it up into multiple pots and they don't necessarily have to be "braising" pans.

      1. You need the bones for flavor.

        1. I've been mulling over your dilemma since I read your post a several minutes ago, and I agree with Kittyfood. You do need the meat on the bone for the very reasons she stated. Plus, if you stack the veal it will steam rather than braise in the sauce and not cook evenly.

          The brasier could be used to serve, ladling some sauce over and putting the rest in a gravy boat.

          1. Has to have the bone in. Otherwise it's just 'stew'. Part of what makes 'OB' such an enjoyable dish is the fact that there's this large bone in the middle of the plate. Unusual for many folk but memorable. Of course the points made about losing the 'OB' flavor and marrow are important.

              1. re: treb

                no point without the bone - if you can't make it on the bone, switch and make a veal stew instead - you can use a large roasting pan in lieu of a braising pot. but if you don't slow cook it on the bone, it isn't osso bucco.

              2. Thanks everyone! I will go ahead and get it on the bone then. For 19 people should I get 25 pieces? In case a few want extra? I'll also have lasagna, risotto, salads and bread on the table....
                Maybe I can borrow some braisers from my aunts so I don't have to buy new ones.

                7 Replies
                1. re: eviemichael

                  If you've got the money honey... just kidding. You have quite a meal planned, and the lasagne is "heavy", with risotto too? And bread...

                  1. re: Gio

                    Ugh I know. :-/ It's going to get so expensive! It's a veggie lasagna, and its a big buffet. I don't know...we're Greek. We always have a ton of food when we host Sunday lunches so it would be strange if I only had risotto and salad to be honest.

                    The bread will be cut into small pieces...does that make it better? :)

                    1. re: eviemichael

                      I didn't realize it was a buffet Eviemichael... I come from a thoroughly Italian family so I know what you mean about serving a ton of food for get togethers. I thought the lasagne would probably be veggie as well. It's a wonderful meal!

                      What time should I arrive and can I bring anything?

                      1. re: Gio

                        Haha, so you understand...I remember whenever friends would come to my house they were always amazed at how much food was around. They still remember not to eat if they stop by!

                        Bring a good bottle of wine, you're welcome any time. :-)

                  2. re: eviemichael

                    Yeah you need to have a few extras. It just doesn't look good not to. IYKWIM Like you wouldn't serve fried chicken and say "Listen up everyone! I only made enough for you all to have one piece each". LOL

                    1. re: eviemichael

                      With all that food you won't need more than one shank per person. No need to overdo...

                      sounds like a wonderful spread. You're doing lasagna rather than (my favorite) pastitsio?

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Thanks! You're right about the veal, but I'll probably still get 25 shanks. It's been ingrained in me from the time I was a child that there isn't anything worse than not having enough food on the table...

                        My husband also asked me if we could have pastitsio instead of lasagna! Ha....Pastitsio is such an everyday, weeknight type of meal around here though, so I wanted to do something different/special for the party.

                    2. on the bone.....if you cannot fit into your brazier....then a roasting pan (4 inch side) covered with foil is next your best option, short of having to purchase something new.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: fourunder

                        Yup, agreeing with everybody, on the bone is the way to go. However don't worry about the braising dish, you can use a stock pot, dutch oven, large deep fry pan, roasting pan. Worst case go buy a foil deep roasting pan from the grocery store.

                        As far as serving, one per person is plenty with your meal. If you are concerned that people will take more than 1, it is family, could you say "one only please?" or serve up this one portion for people then they can go around to buffet and get the rest of the items.

                        1. re: cleopatra999

                          I can't imagine saying "one only please" at a party. What of someone doesn't want lasagne or the other things? You are having an entirely excessive meal, it won't hurt to buy a few extra, imho.

                          1. re: magiesmom

                            If it wasn't family I would agree with you MM. Of course everyone's family is different. Serving this dish would be easiest to control the portion size.

                            1. re: cleopatra999

                              Although we're family, I still wouldn't want to ask everyone to only take one. How many extra should I get? We will be exactly 19 in total. Is 25 OK? Or should it be at least 30? Yikes...:-/

                              1. re: cleopatra999

                                OR- after cooking, could I slide the meat off the bone onto a serving platter? That way, people could take the amount of meat they want, rather than an entire shank?

                                1. re: eviemichael

                                  Yes you can. However, it's easier to pile more loose meat on a plate than a shank. The shank will give the appearance of a larger portion and more people will take one shank because to put two on a plate might look glutinous.

                                  Is the bone long or cut flush with the meat?

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    ok, I'm assuming your shank will be cut into several pieces? cause one shank is pretty big! we always get the "non meat" part of the bone when the butcher cuts the shank for us because the extra bone gives depth to the stock - depending on the size of the shank, you should get 3 -4 meaty pieces out of it, plus extra bone. I'm not suggesting you reconsider your menu (I love osso bucco), but you might consider that lamb shanks are a bit easier for that size of crowd, one shank per person is reasonable, and they are similar in terms of cooking options. I also think osso bucco is difficult to eat and if you have a "stand up" buffet may be a little tricky to maneuver on the plate.

                                    1. re: teezeetoo

                                      Everyone will be seated at a table, so everyone will be able to eat comfortably.

                                      Do you think it's unnecessary to cut the meat off the bone then?

                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                        Kind of along tz2's thinking - could you possible have the shanks sliced crosswise, so that what was one piece would now be two? On a buffet, I usually want a bite of everything, so I'd be happy with a half portion.

                                      2. re: scubadoo97

                                        scubadoo, I'm not sure because I haven't bought the meat yet. I'm going to go to the agora meat market in Athens next week to see if I can get better prices there than with my regular butcher.

                                        1. re: eviemichael

                                          If you take the meat off the bone before serving, be sure to serve the bones so those who want can eat the marrow.

                                          1. re: eviemichael

                                            Just don't stress out on the food. I'm sure you'll have plenty.

                                            Have a good time, Enjoy your family and happy anniversary

                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              Thanks scubadoo :)

                                              Jay F, good point. I promise I won't deny anyone the pleasure of the marrow!

                                        2. re: eviemichael

                                          NO! What does Osso Bucco mean? It means a bone with a hole in it. For 19 prepare twenty five. You'll be seen as a 'generous' host and if there are any left over THEN take the meat off the bone and do whatever. "Hi everyone. I have made for you a classic osso buco only I took the meat off the bones because I didn't think any of you would want to look at a big bone on your plate or have any of the marrow and there's only one each remember".

                                2. I guess I'm not understanding, is the osso buco cut into thick-ish slices with a bone in each piece? It seems like the discussion is slices with no bone, or a large shank. Why not slices with a bone in each slice? That way, people can eat the marrow in their piece.
                                  I like the suggestion of getting a large disposable foil roaster.
                                  Here is a random pic/site I got off the web, searching images of osso buco.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: wyogal

                                    I share wyogal's confusion so I'm providing a link to images of osso bucco below.

                                    Although the pictures in line six (images 2 and 4 counting from the left) have very long shank bones and image 4, especially looks like a complete shank cut of meat, most are simply thick slices of meat including the marrow bone.

                                    If you take the meat off the bones, people will have no reference for how much meat constitutes a portion. They'll be very likely to eat more than you intended.


                                  2. I think I would brown each shank in batches, then use a baking dish and foil to create another oven "braisier" such as Fabio does here:


                                    1. It has to be on the bone.

                                      Otherwise, half the reason I eat osso buco -- the bone marrow -- wouldn't be there.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Not to mention half the name of the dish, no osso! :-)

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          Seriously, I don't understand, 2-inch slices with the bone-in should work, right? Can't they be layered in a roasting pan, with aromatics in between the layers, browning the pieces first, covered with foil? I've only made them once, and they were already sliced, with a bone in each serving.

                                          1. re: wyogal

                                            Yeah it can be done. If I had a lot of them say 20+ I would do them in a big foil roasting pan. A large commercial stainless or aluminum pan would be great if you had access to one.

                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              Thank-you for the reply. Maybe I missed something, but it seems like the choices of either whole or sliced off bone is kind of limited. I've only seen it sliced with a bone in it. Yes, limited exposure, I know.
                                              I may have to go find some this week, making me hungry for it!

                                            2. re: wyogal

                                              I'm sure that would work out perfectly.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                Now, to go find some.... I was inspired by the red gravy thread yesterday.

                                              2. re: wyogal

                                                Geesh! Get a couple of large tin foil turkey roasting pans. Brown each piece. Position each one NOT LAYERED! beside each other and add enough liquid to LEAVE EXPOSED the top of each piece. Cover with tin foil. The whole point is to present a nice dry seared top showing the roasted marrow in the middle of the bone. You know.......like every recipe ever described for osso buco calls for.
                                                Every butcher on the planet will sell you sliced VEAL shanks if you tell them you want to make classic osso buco. If you don't want to spend the $ for real veal there are other choices but the bone will always be there.

                                                1. re: eviemichael

                                                  A lot of the suggestions, even insistence, that you cook and serve (neatly bound) cross cut slices of shank, make most sense when you have a half dozen guests, and this meat dish is the center piece of the meal. Things become a lot of complicated when cooking for 20. Simply trying to find pan space for 20 servings arranged in a neat single layer is a problem. And if you don't have a commercial kitchen do you have enough oven space? And how about serving space?

                                                  On the other hand, one large dutch oven could handle same amount of meat cut off the bone. You could even leave the bone rounds in the stew for their flavor. It will taste just as good, just the presentation won't be as fancy.

                                                  I'm surprised, for all this discussion about the cut of the meat, that no one mentions the flavorings and vegetables, or even the gremolata.

                                                  video of osso buco for 4

                                                  same video, in Italian (by the way osso buco is singluar, ossibuchi the plural)

                                                  Ossobuchi di tacchino con funghi
                                                  Turkey thighs (cut to expose the hollow bone) with mushrooms

                                                  illustrated peppery beef shank stew for a crowd (from Impruneta)

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    Thanks paulj, thankfully I have 2 ovens.
                                                    I am making Marcella Hazan's osso buco recipe, with a lemon-parsley gremolata.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      I didn't really go there with flavorings (other than posting some blog sites), because it wasn't a part of the question. I assumed that she has that part figured out.

                                              3. I don't understand, is this whole shanks vs cross cuts of shank of 1.5"? Definitely slices of 1.5", not everyone is going to want a whole shank, especially with other food.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. In Italian, "osso" means "bone," and "buco" means "hole." In other words, a bone with a hole in it. If the meat is not attached to a bone with a hole in it (some say the marrow is the best part of ossobuco) then it is NOT ossobuco. How can it be? Not possible!

                                                  Could you buy several of those large flat aluminum roasting pans, set them on cookie sheets, and roast enough ossobuco for your crowd that way? If not, then it sounds like another recipe is going to be your best bet. Maybe a nice saltimbocca? You can do it with veal, chicken, or beef. Probably even venison or buffalo! Whatever you decide on, good luck and have fun with it!

                                                  1. Hi everyone, thanks so much for the responses and help. I'll definitely be cooking the meat on the bone, and I may get some aluminum pans for braising after I brown in my cast iron pot. That was a really helpful suggestion!

                                                    I'll probably plate on the bone as well. How many should I get for some extras? With 19 people, would 25 be enough? Or should I get more?

                                                    One more question: could I do beef shanks instead of veal shanks? I know the flavor won't be exactly the same, but it would still be really tasty, right? What do you all think?

                                                    15 Replies
                                                    1. re: eviemichael

                                                      I was wondering if you were going to get whole ones, or ones that are sliced/bone in.

                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                        I'm not sure yet. I guess if I get the whole ones then I do have to cut the meat off the bone on the platter since 1 huge shank is too much for one person.

                                                        Aren't there smaller shanks sometimes though that would be appropriate for one person?

                                                        1. re: eviemichael

                                                          Yes, I posted pics upthread. They are sliced by the butcher with like a band saw (though the bone) so that they are single servings, about 2 inches thick, with the bone in the middle of each piece. That way you get the bone, plus you get the ease of service/cooking.
                                                          Here's another couple of random pics from the web:
                                                          And, quite frankly, I'm not sure about a butcher that doesn't know that and would advise cutting the meat off the bone, that's kinda weird.

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            Here's an image search, notice that most of these pictures are the cut ones, not whole.

                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                              Thanks, that's helpful. I'm going to take some pics to the butcher in case I have a hard time explaining what I want in Greek.

                                                              Do you think it's OK to go with beef shank instead of veal? And how much extra meat should I get in case some want seconds?

                                                              1. re: eviemichael

                                                                Not sure how much, and yes, beef would be fine. Upthread, someone mentioned amounts, count pieces and get enough for some of your guests to have more than one, but not all will.

                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                  Good to know beef will be OK too. I think I'll get enough for half of the guests to have seconds. Even if it doesn't get eaten at the party, I'm sure my husband would finish it all off by the next day.

                                                                2. re: eviemichael

                                                                  If you want beef, get beef. If you want lamb, get lamb. I'd go with the beef, sliced as in the photos/blogs that I linked. One blog says they serve 4 for 2 people with leftovers.

                                                                  1. re: eviemichael

                                                                    So you are in Greece, not the USA. Most of us have been writing based on experience with American groceries and butchers. I bet the Greek butcher practices are closer to the Italian ones than American ones.

                                                                    I read someplace that Italian veal is older than American, more like the young steers that are sold as beef in the USA.

                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      Yeah, I should have mentioned that, sorry.

                                                                      When I've bought and cooked veal here though, it doesn't seem so different to me from veal I've cooked with in the States.

                                                                  2. re: eviemichael

                                                                    >>>Aren't there smaller shanks sometimes though that would be appropriate for one person?

                                                                    Yes, they're called lamb shanks, and they're tastier than veal anyway, and probably cheaper, and more appropriate if you're Greek. Just prepare them the same way you would a classic osso buco.

                                                                3. re: eviemichael

                                                                  In Asian groceries (e.g. 99Ranch, HMart) I find beef shank in the 'osso buco' slices, and as boneless muscles. That latter is sometimes called 'banana shank', from its rough shape. I've worked with both when make Peposo notturno, the peppery (as in black) beef stew. For that the meat is cubed. Flavorings can be simple as wine, garlic and lots of black pepper, or enough vegetables to approximate OB.


                                                                  I observe that beef shank meat has a lot of connective tissue, with contributes gelatin (body) to the stew. I also wonder whether the shank bone rounds contribute much to the stew. They are some of the densest bone around, as many dog owners can attest. I don't think the marrow contributes that much either, since it is mostly fat.

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    But a delicious bit of fat, at that!

                                                                4. Could be a good opportunity to do Foreshanks instead of the standard 1 inch thick cut.


                                                                  1. My local butcher has frozen veal for osso buco, 5 2" thick slices to a package, about 5 lb total at $13/lb. So a package is in the $50+ range, and an individual 'serving' about 1lb.

                                                                    The Asian megamart where I get most of my meat, especially inexpensive pork cuts (like tongue and heart), sells beef shank slices (about 1" thick) for $3+, and boneless 'banana' shank for about $4.

                                                                    And marrow bones, in 2" long rounds, suitable for roasting and scooping (and then treating the dog) are about $2/lb

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      Paulj... Eviemichael lives in Athens, Greece! She's getting the osso buco from a butcher.

                                                                      The Hazen recipe she wants to use is perfectly fine and will give her a very nice finished dish. The meat is on the bone in osso bucco slices and very easy to cook. Twenty-five pieces will be plenty, with perhaps a few leftovers.