What is Osso Bucco: How to Cook It & Recipes

Acabonac Farms |

Osso Bucco, sometimes spelled “osso buco”, “ossobuco”, or referred to simply as “osso”, is a dish featuring a special cut of meat known for its marrow-rich shank and tender, fall off the bone texture. 

It’s quickly emerging as one of the most sought-after "special" cuts among home chefs and restaurants alike. Why? Osso Bucco captures the essence of hearty, home-cooked Italian cuisine in a way no other cut can. It's a piece of Italian heritage served up on a plate - gracing family kitchens since the 19th century.

Notably, grass-fed Osso Bucco has become a standout favorite among consumers, not just for its deeper, more complex flavor, but also for its health benefits, reduced environmental impact, and more ethical animal raising methods. Grass-fed beef Osso Bucco is richer in nutrients and lower in unhealthy fats, making it a better option for those who prioritize their nutrition. Acabonac Farms takes pride in being a leading supplier of high-quality grass-fed meats, including Osso Bucco, making the best version of this iconic dish easily accessible to those curious to try it.

Key Takeaways

  • Grass-fed Osso Bucco stands out for its complex taste, nutritional value, and environmental benefits.
  • Cooking Osso Bucco requires patience and care, with slow cooking to ensure tenderness and depth of flavor.
  • For those seeking an authentic Osso Bucco dish with richer, more nutritious meat, grass-fed Osso Bucco from Acabonac Farms is a convenient option.

What is Osso Bucco and Why Is It a Classic Italian Dish?

Originating from the Lombardy region of Italy, Osso Bucco means "bone with a hole" in Italian - but let’s get a bit more specific. The name refers to the way the meat is cut. Osso Bucco uses a cross-cut veal shank or beef shank (from the hind leg) that includes both the bone and marrow, crucial elements that contribute to the dish's texture. This primal cut of meat is thick and circular in shape, characterized by the bone located near the edge or middle of the cut. 

Traditionally enjoyed at family gatherings and special occasions (like Christmas), Osso Bucco has symbolized the comfort of Italian home cooking for generations. Nowadays, Osso Bucco has made a name for itself in fine dining too, but still maintains its hearty home-cooked appeal. Since the 19th century, Osso Bucco has been a cornerstone of Italian cooking, commonly made with vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions, simmered in white wine and broth.

What sets Osso Bucco apart from other cuts is its rich, layered flavor thanks to the tender meat combined with the inclusion of bone and marrow in the cut. This unique combination creates an unrivaled fall-off-the-bone experience and a smooth, umami flavor. 

What is Osso Bucco

Can you make osso buco with beef instead of veal?

Veal (young beef cattle) shank is the traditional choice of meat used for Osso Bucco, and while veal’s ultra tender texture brings the dish to new heights, it also demands a more premium price-tag that reflects the quality of the meat. 

Beef shank, from younger cattle around 30 months of age, is also just as good, offering a comparable experience without compromising on the dish's traditional essence. 

Either option will result in a delicious and authentic Osso Bucco that delights the palate.


How to Cook Osso Bucco

The key to perfect Osso Bucco lies in its slow braising process, and the choice of meat. Slow braising is a technique critical for bringing out the dish's deep flavor and achieving its signature tenderness. 

This process begins with searing the veal or beef shanks until they're golden brown, creating a flavorful crust that locks in the marrow-enriched juices inside the meat. After searing, the shanks are then slowly cooked in a mixture of wine, broth, and a selection of aromatics, such as onions, carrots, and celery. This tenderizes the cut of the shank by gently breaking down its fibers while simultaneously creating the delicious sauce for the dish.

If you’ve got your sights set on making real Osso Bucco, make sure to only use high-quality, grass-fed veal or beef shanks. This will be your best bet for experiencing the most authentic taste of traditional Osso Bucco. Acabonac Farms provides sustainably raised, grass-fed Osso Bucco, ensuring the cattle's natural diet yields the rich flavors true to Osso Bucco's heritage. Grass-fed Osso Bucco is a much more nutritious option as well, as the wild diet and open pastures that Acabonac Farms cattle enjoy result in a meat that is higher in nutrients and 100% free from antibiotics, hormones, fillers, or herbicides.


Traditional Osso Bucco Recipe

Looking for the real deal? This delicious recipe comes straight out of Lombardy, and is the embodiment of the original Italian Osso Bucco. Prepared with all the authentic ingredients and classic finishing touches including a gremolata garnish of lemon zest, minced garlic, and chopped parsley, plus options for soft delectable sides:


  • 4 large grass-fed veal or beef shanks, tied with kitchen string to hold their shape
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups beef or veal broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

For Gremolata Garnish:

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Side Options:

  • Polenta
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Risotto

Cooking Process

1. Preparing the Meat: Begin by patting the veal shanks dry and seasoning them generously with salt and pepper. You can also dredge the shanks in flour to help create more of a crust when searing. Use kitchen twine to tie the shanks together so that they keep their shape during the cooking process.

2. Searing the Shanks: Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy, deep pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Sear the shanks for 90 seconds on each side until they develop a rich, golden crust. This step helps lock in flavors during the long braising process.

3. Making the Mirepoix (vegetable mixture): Remove the shanks and reduce the heat to medium. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot, sautéing until they start to soften and become fragrant. The purpose of a mirepoix is to build the flavor base.

4. Deglazing the Pot: Pour in the white wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. These bits are packed with flavor and will enrich the braising liquid.

5. Braising the Shanks: Once the wine has reduced by half, return the shanks to the pot. Add broth to cover the shanks halfway, then stir in the tomato paste. Add the herbs, bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, then cover the pot. If you want to eat sooner rather than later, transfer the pot to an oven preheated to 325°F and cook for 2-3 hours. For a lower and slower approach (what we recommend), preheat the oven to 275°F and cook for 4-6 hours. 

6. Prepare the Gremolata: While the meat is braising, mix your lemon zest, minced garlic, and chopped parsley in a small bowl and place in the fridge.

7. Check the Braise: After cooking, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Check the seasoning of the braise and adjust with salt and pepper (you’ll be using this as a sauce). 

8. Serve: Remove the meat and serve with sides that complement its richness. Creamy polenta, mashed potatoes, or risotto provide a comforting base that soaks up the sauce. Place the meat on top of the creamy side of your choosing and pour over sauce from the braise. Finish with a sprinkle of gremolata on top.

Expert Tips for the Perfect Osso Bucco

Creating an unforgettable Osso Bucco takes time and trial and error to perfect it. Luckily, we’ve done that for you. Here are some of the most important tips to make sure your Osso Bucco comes out the way you want it.

How to Enhance the Flavor of Osso Bucco

Meat Quality: Only use high-quality, grass-fed beef or veal shanks. The meat from local, trusted farms like Acabonac Farms, known for pasture-raised cattle, will provide a depth of flavor that supermarket cuts simply can't match.

Searing: Don’t skip the sear. Searing the meat on high heat develops a rich, caramelized crust. This not only adds a layer of texture but also intensifies the flavor of the meat by locking in juices within the cut of beef.

Fresh Herbs: Incorporate fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Their aromatics are crucial for the authentic taste of Osso Bucco, infusing the meat with herbal notes during the braising process.

Reduce The Braise: After cooking is finished, the liquid left behind from the braise will act as a sauce for your dish. To ensure maximum flavor, continue reducing it further until the desired intensity is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce up even more.

Making the Perfect Osso Bucco

Thaw Correctly: We highly recommend thawing your meat in the refrigerator before its time to cook. This ensures a uniform internal temperature that will cook more evenly.

Plan Ahead: Given that Osso Bucco requires slow cooking, planning is essential. Allocate sufficient time for braising—up to 6 hours—to ensure the meat becomes tender and flavorful.

Browning: To properly brown Osso Bucco shanks, ensure the meat is dry before searing and don't overcrowd the pot. A high heat and a little patience will give you that perfect golden-brown sear.

Achieving Tender Meat: Low and slow is the mantra. Cooking at a gentle simmer allows the collagen in the shanks to break down properly, resulting in meat that's tender enough to fall off the bone.

Dutch Oven vs. Slow Cooker: A Dutch oven is ideal for Osso Bucco, thanks to its ability to distribute heat evenly and maintain a consistent temperature. While a slow cooker can also be used, it might not offer the same level of flavor concentration as the Dutch oven method.

Buy Grass-Fed Osso Bucco Online from Acabonac Farms

Experience the pinnacle of this Italian classic by choosing grass-fed Osso Bucco from Acabonac Farms. Finding Osso Bucco is hard enough -  but finding high-quality grass-fed beef for Osso Bucco is even harder. Luckily, Acabonac Farms can ship it right to your front door.

Acabonac Farms utilizes regenerative farming practices to sustainably produce Osso Bucco beef shanks that are healthier, more flavorful, and more closely aligned with the heritage flavor profile of this iconic dish. Our nutrient dense meats, derived from the all-wild diet of our cattle, are unrivaled in quality and nutrition. 

Our animals are ethically raised on open grassy pastures, eating a diet that nature intended for them. With no antibiotics, hormones, or herbicides used anywhere on our farms, you can feel assured that your meat was grown naturally fueled by an entire ecosystem - not a dusty feedlot.


Frequently Asked Questions about Osso Bucco

What is a good substitute for osso buco?

Grass-fed beef ribs, roasts and brisket can also be prepared in a similar fashion as a replacement for beef and veal shanks. Oxtail also benefits from similar cooking methods and can be comparable in texture and flavor when slow-cooked due to the presence of marrow.

What is the difference between osso bucco and shank?

Osso Bucco specifically refers to the cross-cut beef and veal shanks used in the dish, including the bone and marrow, while "shank" can refer to any meat cut from the leg section of beef, veal, lamb, or pork.

Are you supposed to eat the marrow in osso buco?

Yes, the marrow is a delicacy and considered one of the best parts of Osso Bucco. It is rich, buttery, and adds a velvety texture to the dish.

What are the best sides to serve with Osso Bucco?

Traditional sides include risotto alla Milanese (saffron risotto), creamy polenta, or mashed potatoes. These sides complement and soak up the rich sauce of Osso Bucco well.

How can I ensure Osso Bucco meat is tender?

The key to tender Osso Bucco is slow cooking at a low temperature. Braising the shanks in liquid for several hours allows the tough fibers to break down, resulting in tender meat.

What are the health benefits of grass-fed beef in Osso Bucco?

Grass-fed beef is higher in certain nutrients than grain-fed beef, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and conjugated linoleic acid, which can contribute to a more heart healthy diet. The marrow in grass-fed beef also supports healthy joints, ligaments, and is even known to improve the elasticity and youthful appearance of skin.

How does Acabonac Farms ensure the quality of their grass-fed Osso Bucco?

Acabonac Farms uses regenerative farming practices that improve soil health and biodiversity. Our cattle are raised on a natural wild diet without antibiotics or hormones, ensuring our Osso Bucco is not only the best quality but also environmentally sustainable.

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