I managed to get my hands on some buffalo osso buco with generous looking marrow bones and wonderfully dark meat. There are very few buffalo farms in Australia, and most of them are dairy farms, so when I saw the Ausbuff Stuff stand at Eveleigh farmers markets on an early saturday morning, I bagged a tray without hesitation. Buffalo meat has a slightly sweeter taste in comparison to beef, and is rich in nutrients like omega 3, and higher in protein. Since it is a tougher meat, slow cooking it is the way to go. Osso buco was a dish I grew up with, so I find myself craving it from time to time. My favourite part of the dish is still of course the luxurious marrow, that when slow cooked has a delicious buttery mouthfeel. It is also a very healthy part of the animal that should never be wasted! I would say that it is another one of those undervalued parts of the animal. Thinking back, I used to love having my osso buco marrow on toast with some salt and pepper.
You will need:
1/3 of a celery, washed, leaves removed, cut into 0.5cm cubes
1 large carrot, washed and cut into 0.5cm cubes
2 medium onions, cut into 0.5cm cubes
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tins of tomatoes
2tbsp tomato paste (check the packaging date to make sure it is as fresh as you can get – old paste tastes awful!)
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon quill
salt and pepper
butter (I use grass fed butter)
6 osso buco (Buffalo or Beef, your choice), at room temperature
extra virgin olive oil
Turn on your oven to 170C. Place your heavy based casserole pot over a medium heat and melt a knob of butter. Add the carrots, celery and onion, then sweat down until it is soft and translucent (about 15mins). Don’t be tempted to turn the heat on high, otherwise your vegetables can burn and turn brown. Rub some butter on each piece of osso buco so that each side is covered. In a separate pan, turn on a high heat until the pan is smoking hot. Start to seal your osso buco meat for about 45seconds on each side so that each side has some golden brown markings. Don’t be tempted to move the meat around the pan, just allow it to do it’s thing before turning it. Transfer each piece to the casserole pot, making sure nothing overlaps, and turn up the heat to high. Add the tinned tomatoes, and fill with water until everything is just covered. Because buffalo meat is so flavoursome, I use water, but you can use a combination of red wine and good beef stock instead if you prefer (I never use stock cubes). Break up any whole tomatoes with your spoon, then slide in small chunks of the tomato paste throughout the pot. Bring to a simmer, then drop in your bay leaves, garlic, and cinnamon.
Cover the pot with a cartouche (draw an outline of your pot onto baking paper using the lid as a guide, and cut it out) so that moisture won’t escape while it’s in the oven. Put the lid on, then slide it into the oven and let it slowly cook away for as long as you can (4-6 hours). When the osso buco is ready, the meat should easily fall apart with a fork, and the liquid should have concentrated.
Before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese (optional) while it’s hot. I like to have mine over some cauliflower mash, with some veggies on the side.