Budget Oxtail Osso Buco

We love Osso Buco (pronounced OHSSoh BOOkoh) but veal shanks can get pretty spendy, so I like to make it with oxtail, which costs about a third of what veal shanks cost. 

Risotto Milanese made with Calrose rice and safflower aka azafrán rather than arborio and saffron also comes in at a fraction of the cost and is a delicious knockoff of the traditional preparation. 

A quick cost comparison using prices in our neighborhood:

Oxtail - $6/lb vs. Veal Shanks - Easily $20/lb.

Calrose Rice - $1/lb vs. Arborio Rice - $6/lb
Safflower aka Azafrán - $4/.25 oz. vs. Saffron - $50/.25 oz.

Cost saving substitutions notwithstanding, the meal is still rich, hearty and downright luxurious washed down with a glass of your favorite affordable red.

BUDGET OXTAIL OSSO BUCO (Pressure Cooker & Stovetop)

Serves 4
Time: About 90 minutes in pressure cooker, about 3 hours stovetop

Stovetop method at the end of recipe

- oil

- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 large celery stalk, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 4 whole large garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
- 5 sprigs' worth fresh thyme leaves (or 1.5 teaspoons dried)
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 3 pounds well-trimmed (of outside fat layer) oxtail, seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and dusted all around with about ¼ cup AP flour
- 1 cup semi-dry wine, white or red is fine
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted stock, beef or chicken
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar

Pressure Cooker Instructions

1) Saute the vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, garlic) in about 1 Tablespoon of oil over medium high heat for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the onions begin to get translucent, and set aside. In the last minute of the second batch, toss the herbs in let them also bloom in the heat for about a minute.

2) Turn the heat down to just over medium, add another Tablespoon of oil, and sear the oxtails in two batches, about 3 minutes on each of 4 “sides” (they’re round, but you have to sear on roughly 4 sides), and until they have a nice, darker golden brown color to them and set aside. Add more oil to second batch if needed.

3) Turning the heat back to medium high, deglaze pot with the wine, making sure to scrape the bottom for any bits of fond (the caramelized bits of protein and sugar left on the pan from sauteing the veg and searing the meat) and let the wine come to a gentle boil for about 2 minutes before adding the stock, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Give it a couple of good stirs.

4) Layer the oxtail, vertically, in a single layer if possible, on the bottom of the pressure cooker, followed by the veg/herb mixture, and then pour in the liquid mixture. 

5) Lock the lid, turn the heat up to high, and bring the pressure cooker to high pressure for about a minute before turning the heat down to medium and cooking for an additional 50 to 60 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to maintain a steady stream of steam escaping from the lid.

6) Remove pressure cooker from the heat and allow the pressure to come down on its own for about 15 minutes. Then check and adjust the seasoning. If it needs a little more salt and pepper or even sugar to balance out the acidity, add it in pinches, stir, and let sit for another 5 minutes before serving over risotto (traditional), pasta, or even plain steamed rice.

Stovetop Instructions

If you’re making this stovetop in a 4 or 5 quart French or Dutch oven, increase the stock to 2.5 cups and the kosher salt to 1.5 Tablespoons, and replace Steps 5 and 6 with:

Turn the heat up to high and bring the liquid to a rolling boil for about 2 minutes. Stir to redistribute the ingredients, place the lid slightly askew, reduce the heat to just under medium low, and simmer for another 2 ½ to 3 hours or so, or until the meat pulls away from the bone with very little effort. 

Stir to redistribute every 20 to 30 minutes and to ensure that you don’t have the heat so high that you’re burning the sauce. The best way to tell is if you can scrape overcooked sauce solids off the cooking surface. If you can, adjust the heat down a bit, making sure to maintain a gentle simmer, and check in another 20 minutes to ensure that heat isn’t too high.

In the last 5 minutes of cooking, adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, or even sugar to balance out acidity. Let cool for at least a good 15 minutes before serving over risotto (traditional), pasta, or even plain steamed rice.

Full cooking album HERE.

Buon appetito, peeps! :)




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