Food is art. That’s true on so many levels, from the visual to the taste to the complimenting contributors such as wine, table setting and location. However, with all the modernism smoke and mirrors such as molecular chemicals, over-the-top garnishes, and bells and whistles, we distract from the true star of the show — the melt-in-your-mouth, eye-shutting, mind-blasting ﬂavor. Simply, ﬂavor.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the bells and whistles, plating is essential and even an omelet cannot go without the sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh herb salad or some other form of color pop. But I am starting to notice a signiﬁcant crossroads in my own culinary path: misconception. Let me explain.
Rustic does not mean simple; braised does not mean boring. Less can mean more.
By brining the veal we add an extra punch to this dish, just that great boost of moisture and ﬂavor. Topping it with a simple smokey apple slaw lightens the plate and balances it texturally. Marrying the fresh (salad) with the mature deep taste (veal) allows it to be served as an opening course and even paired with a chardonnay. Enjoy.
Ingredients for the brine (serves 12):
1/2 gallon water
1 cup Kosher salt
4 onions, peeled and halved
4 sprigs thyme
8 cloves garlic, halved
5 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 cup caper water from jar (capers not needed)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
4 bay leaves
6 cups ice
12 petit veal osso bucco (I get mine from Kathy at Bush Brothers)
Ingredients for the braise:
5 tbsp salted butter
5 tbsp all-purpose ﬂour
4 cups beef stock, heated
4 red onions, chopped
4 sprigs thyme, tied together with cooking string
1/3 cup Craisins
2 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Ingredients for the slaw:
2 Granny Smith apples, ﬁnely sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp smoked sea salt
4 green onions, ﬁnely sliced
1/2 punnet yellow cherry tomatoes
1/2 punnet red cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions to brine:
In a pot on medium-high heat, place all the ingredients (except ice and veal) and bring to a boil.
Once a rolling boil is achieved, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add ice. Set aside.
Using cooking string, tie a knot around each veal shank, tightening the meat surrounding the bone. Place in an oven dish.
Pour the brine over the meat, making sure to cover each shank.
Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.
Directions to braise:
Set oven to 350 degrees F.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the ﬂour (we are making a roux) and whisk.
Slowly pour in the heated beef stock, whisking as you pour to completely incorporate. Bring mixture to a simmer and let simmer for 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
Add the rest of the ingredients and take off heat.
Pull the brined veal shanks from the brine and place in a deep-sided baking tray. Carefully pour braising mixture over the shanks, being sure to evenly distribute.
Cover the dish twice with tin foil and place in oven for 1 hour, then reduce oven to 300 degrees F. After another hour, reduce oven to 250 and continue to cook for two more hours.
Pull from oven and carefully peel back the corners of the foil to release the steam. Remove the shanks and place on an oven tray. Remove the cooking string.
Pour the braising liquid into a saucepan, remove thyme sprigs and using an immersion blender, blend the mixture to thicken.
Slowly simmer over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally.
Directions for slaw:
Add all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and toss. Place the salad in a container with tight ﬁtting lid and place in fridge. This can be made hours before service; the smokiness will develop as the salt draws the moisture out of the apples.
Directions for tomatoes:
Toss the ingredients in a bowl. Place in an oven dish and, once the oven decreases to 250 degrees F, add them to the oven with the veal.
Keep an eye on the tomatoes, but they should roast in an hour or so, depending on your oven. What you are looking for are crispy, semi-dried tomatoes, halfway between sun-dried and fresh. They can be served room temperature or hot (or even reserved for salads).
Place a shank in a serving bowl.
Ladle with gravy, covering shank.
Place a handful of slaw on top, garnish with tomatoes and serve immediately.
Mark Godbeer, a culinary-trained chef from South Africa, has been professionally cooking for more than 11 years, 9 of which have been on yachts (chefmarkgodbeer.com). Comments on this recipe are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.