Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What We Do For Love (We Braise!)

Isaac and I are pretty much anti-Valentines Day. We don't understand why couples go and waste their hard earned money on cutesy white teddy bears with red ribbons around their necks, heart shaped boxes of chocolates that you can buy any other time of year, and marked up dinners at crowded restaurants with hasty service--all for a silly holiday that Hallmark invented. Concerning Valentines Day, we have a few rules for each other: Do not buy me any flowers, especially red roses. Do not buy me any boxer shorts with hearts on them. Do not buy me candy, stuffed animals, greeting cards or anything related to Valentine's Day. Do not take me out to dinner on Valentine's Day. Maybe the day before or the day after, but never on.

Which doesn't mean that we don't like to do nice things for each other though. We just don't want to be caught up in the whole sickeningly cutesy commercialism of the whole thing. I don't want to be the girl at the crowded restaurant wearing the pink flirty, feminine outfit (because it's Valentines Day, you know, you have to wear something romantic looking) clutching a red rose and a teddy bear, and he doesn't want to be the fool dressed up in a shirt and tie getting his wallet cleaned out by an expensive prix fixe menu. So we do other things instead. This year, I decided to perform a labor of love that in my opinion, outdoes all the bouquets, cheesy balloons and chocolate hearts. For "Valentines Day" this year, I made osso buco for my man. (It's in quotes because I didn't really make it on Valentine's Day; I made it two days prior.)

The great thing is that he thinks that this was a complete labor of love, but in truth, the dish that earned me brownie points for, like, forever was the easiest thing to make. With a little inspiration from
Eat, Drink & Be Merry's Osso Buco post and a brand new 7.25 Le Creuset Dutch Oven (which I happened to get for a steal at $125), I was totally set.

My "other" baby

Actually, the hardest part of making this dish wasn't even in the actual preparation but rather in finding a place that sold good veal shanks at a good price. I knew that places like Whole Foods and Gelsons sold them, but then again, I also knew that with their prices, I'd be better off going to a restaurant. Since I was already in Burbank, I swung by Magnolia Blvd where there are two markets--Handy Market and
Monte Carlo Market--that may have the goods for a better price. The first one, Handy Market, was out of veal shanks, so I kept my fingers crossed as I drove down the street to place number 2. I had to wait a little as there was a bit of a crowd at Monte Carlo's meat and deli counter that afternoon, but the wait turned out to be well worth it--I got 4 shanks for 20 bucks and change, and I was on my way home to cook my "Anti-Valentines Day" dinner.

Allright, here's the lowdown on what I did, pretty much adapted from
Little Miss Big Head's recipe:

4 veal shanks, patted dry
flour for dredging
1/2 cup butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 rosemary sprig (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig (or 1/2 tsp dried)
3 cups chicken or veal stock

-Tie kitchen twine securely around veal shanks to secure meat to the bone. Dredge lightly in flour, dusting off excess.

-Heat butter or oil in dutch oven over medium high heat and add veal shanks, browning on each side. Remove shanks from pan and set aside.

-Add vegetables to pan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until tranluscent. Stir in tomato paste. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits. Cook until liquid is reduced by about half.

-Add shanks back to the pan and add 2 cups of the stock along with the herbs. (Make a bouquet garni with cheesecloth and twine if desired; I had no cheesecloth so I just threw everything into the pot) Return to a boil and reduce heat to low.

-Cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, turning meat and adding remainder of broth occasionally until meat is tender.

I got the good dishes out for this one--I served the osso buco over a bed of linguine in our wide rimmed Pottery Barn pasta dishes. Braising has become one of my favorite cooking methods: high quality results for low maintenance work, a plus in any lazy gourmand's book. The meat was like butta', so tender that it literally fell off the bone. The braising process also melted all that lovely connective tissue up, giving us some gelatinous goodness with every bite as well as some luscious bone marrow to enjoy at the end. Our sauce, made hearty by our mire poix (carrot, onion and celery combo) reduction, was perfect over the al dente linguine. On the side, a bowl of brussels sprouts sauteed with olive oil and garlic to add some greenery.

Look, they're like little green hearts!

A labor of love? Well, yes and no. Yes because he's the love of my life, but no because making this delicious dish was a cinch!

And to all of you...Happy Valentine's Day. Sorta.


Kirk said...

I hear ya' Pam - We're kinda anti-VD as well. Though we'll go out and have a nice dinner on some other day!

Daily Gluttony said...


Well I hope you're "anti-VD" LOL! Just kidding! Going out for Valentines Day on Valentines Day is overrated in my book. Hope you & the Missus had a nice one anyways!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Hi Pam, happy hallmark day to you. I went out, but with a friend to try a prix fixe'd menu. Your food looks so awesome - looks better than mine. I love the color of the osso buco. what kind of wine did you use? It's too bad that LC didn't have a Valentine's edition - white with red hearts all over haha. oh wait, they do have a heart shaped pot - so tacky. Great post.

BoLA said...

Hey Pam! Great post as always! I'm a sucker for V day, but that's just b/c I think everyday is like Valentines! muhahah! Yes, I know I know. I'm such the BIG SAPPING CHEESEBALL, that I am! ;) Anyhow, I need to get me one of those AND a Kitchenaid that's been on my lists of Must Haves for quite some time now. ;)

Daily Gluttony said...


Thanks! And thanks for the inspiration in the first place, dude! I used a 6 dollar Baron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc that I picked up from Trader Joes. Yes, LC does have that heart shaped pot don't they? Don't lie, you know you're gonna get that one. LOL!


You should add the LC and the KA to your V-Day wish list. And since V-Day is everyday, well...

yoony said...

your anti-v dinner sounds awesome. i am anti-v too. me and my bf went to a pub, drank delicious guinness and had a huge pile of chicken wings and onion rings. then watched a movie at home.

this may make you vomit but there was someone dressed up for v-day to work. it was pretty disgusting. all red and pink. and got a huge vase of red roses, which is a big deal of drama for the whole dept for some retarded reason.

anyhow, glad you and issac had a delicious vday at home. :)

meg said...

Hey, how did you get your sprouts to brown just so? I've tried to duplicate Pasta Pomodoro's brussel sprouts (the only thing that draws me there), but I never get it quite right.

Anti-V here too. I made a pork tenderloin marinated in lemongrass and fish sauce, with collard greens sauteed with pancetta and balsamic. And cherry blintzes for afters.

Sylvie said...

Great meal. I love veal shanks. No part of the shank is wasted in our house. Ziggy loves the bones.

Daily Gluttony said...


See, that's the way to celebrate V-Day...the anti V-Day way.

We actually went to TOT in Little Tokyo last night to get dinner (not for V-Day, just to eat) and there was a couple there who was dressed for the occasion. She had on a pink dress with this black crochet shawl over it and he had on a pink dress shirt with his suit.


Mmm, your Anti-Vday meal sounds delish! Actually, brussels sprouts brown pretty easily. I par-boil mine in water first to soften them up a bit and then sautee w/ oil & garlic on medium high. That usually does the trick.


Thanks! BTW, where do you get your shanks? I'm looking for multiple places in case my "source" ever runs out!

Passionate Eater said...

At $125-, I'm hoping that Isaac paid for that "baby"! Jk, it is a sound investment, and worth every penny.

Just wanted to tell you that I met up with Eat, Drink, and Be Merry this last week, and our entire dinner conversation was how we idolized you! The whole night it was "Pam this," and "Pam, that," and "That's not what Pam would say," and "I disagree, Pam would like it over easy." Thanks Daily Gluttony, for being so cool.

rick james said...

agree... pam is the coolest..

its been reported pam is so cool she won a game of Connect 4 in only 3 moves...

as a mere toddler pam was approached by an unknown actor on how to be cool.... his name Henry Winkler

pam is so cool, if you go to vegas in the middle of summer there is no need to turn the air conditioner on. your body temperature will remain stable if you stay within 26 inches of her

the word pam in Icelandic means "i'm cool, but don't mess with me or i'll kick your ass"

Jeni said...

Pam...your dinner looks awesome. Osso buco will be my next big endeavor. Well..once I get my Le creuset of course. Your 7.25 in Dune is very classy looking.

Daily Gluttony said...


aww, you are too sweet!!! you're making me blush!


I am pretty cool, aren't I? ha ha just kidding. hey, you stop it now!


Thanks! You'll be surprised, making osso buco was waaaay easy! And people think you slaved all day!

Anonymous said...

i had dinner at home with my bf too, after watching a guy dressed in a suit with balloons and flowers in his car yell at some lady in traffic. i guess he was late for a dinner reservation. i made scallop and shrimp tempura, grilled portabellos and filet mignon with mushroom sauce. and cheated with a store bought strawberry cheesecake. happy "sorta" v day to you!

elmomonster said...

I escaped the Valentine's thing since I was on a cruise ship all of last week...but then the whole trip was, I guess a weeklong Valentine's date! LOL!