Ossobuco is a classic Italian dish from Milan: braised veal shank, often served with a saffron risotto on the side (which is the exception to the Italian rule that pasta or rice (primo piatto) is not served together with meat or fish (secondo piatto)). I’ve been making ossobuco sous vide using the recommendation by Modernist Cuisine of 62C/144F for 3 days, and that is the recipe published on this blog. However some Italians mentioned they use 68C/155F, and I always thought that it was a bit dry at 62C/144F. So I decided it was time for another side-by-side experiment to see for myself what works best. The age of the calf may actually be a factor to take into account. For these experiments I used ‘pink’ veal from calfs that are not more than 8 months old.
- 2 veal shanks
- 1 bay leaf, 2 fresh sage leaves, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 stick celery, all finely chopped
- flour for dusting
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) sieved tomatoes (passata di pomodoro)
- 50 grams (2 oz) diced pancetta, optional
For the gremolata
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 minced garlic clove
- grated zest of 1 untreated lemon
Place the veal shanks on a plate and season them with salt on both sides.
Allow the salt to penetrate the meat for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight, covered in the refrigerator.
Make incisions in the tough membrane, cutting through the membrane but trying to cut the meat underneath as little as possible, to prevent the shanks from curling up from browning them.
Pat the meat dry with paper towels, and dust with flour on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan, and brown the shanks over medium-high heat.
Brown them until they are golden brown, about 1 minute per side. The inside should remain raw.
Allow the browned shanks to cool off on a plate.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan in which you browned the meat, without cleaning the pan first.
Sauté the carrot, celery, pancetta (if using), sage, bay leaf, and rosemary in the butter.
When the vegetables are starting to become golden brown, deglaze with the white wine.
Allow the wine to reduce to about half.
Then add the sieved tomatoes.
Allow the sauce to reduce until it is nice and thick. During the sous vide cooking the meat will release quite a bit of juices, while the sauce cannot reduce while it is vacuum sealed.
There are three options for bagging the meat with the sauce for sous vide cooking:
- With a chamber vacuum machine: allow the meat and sauce to cool completely in the refrigerator, and then bag up and vacuum seal together.
- With a ziploc bag and the water displacement method: can be done while meat and sauce are still warm.
- With an external vacuum sealer: freeze the sauce first, then vacuum seal the chilled (not frozen) meat together with the froze sauce.
The first experiment I did was 72 hours at 62C/144F (like I have been doing before) versus 24 hours at 68C/155F (as recommended by some Italians).
72 hours at 62C/144F was much more tender and flaky than 24 hours at 68C/155F, and less dry as well.
My next try was 48 hours at 62C/144F verus 48 hours at 68C/155F.
At 68C/155F the meat now was tender enough, but still quite dry. At 62C/144F the meat was less tender after 48 hours rather than 72 hours, as could be expected.
The final experiment was 72 hours at 57C/135F versus 72 hours at 62C/144F. I tried the lower temperature to see if I could get the meat to be less dry but still tender.
After sous vide cooking I reduced the sauce from the bag a bit to thicken it, and heat it up to serve on top of the meat to prevent it from cooling off too quickly (which is needed if the meat is cooked at only 57C/135F or 62C/144F without searing afterwards).
The result was that 72 hours at 57C/135F is from now on my favorite time and temperature combination for ossobuco sous vide. It is about as tender and flaky as 72 hours at 62C/144F, but clearly less dry.
Ossobuco is garnished with gremolata, a mixture of minced fresh flat leaf parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest.