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A return to Restaurant Row

Thursday, June 26, 2003

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Last week, Kitchen Mailbox promised its readers a second cheesecake recipe, but shortly after that column was written, we were saddened by the death of Betsy Kline Heltzel, a gifted editor and writer for our Food section.


A recipe for Osso Buco was recently requested in Kitchen Mailbox by Louise Parisi of Scott. So, in Betsy's memory, we provide this recipe, which she had tested.

This is what Betsy originally wrote in Restaurant Row: "This recipe has been simplified by the chef to omit the costly and time-consuming step of making a demiglace, which is then used to slow-cook the veal shanks.

"Substituting a consomme or broth deprives the dish of a rich, glossy sauce, but the veal was fork tender and the vegetables delicious.

"If you like your sauce slightly thick, you could thicken the cooking juices with extra tomato paste before serving. Be sure to serve with a thick-crusted bread for sopping up the sauce."

Iron Butterfly's Osso Buco

  • 1 cup olive oil

  • 1 head garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 12 veal shanks, cut into 1 1/2-inch discs (see note)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, destemmed
  • 1 gallon demiglace or beef consomme or reconstituted powdered beef base (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 3 large carrots, cut into batons (vegetables cut into sticks) 1/4 by 1/4 by 2 1/2 inches
  • 3 large turnips, cut into batons 1/4 by 1/4 by 2 1/2 inches
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, caps only

Note: Not all veal shanks are equally endowed. Their size will ultimately determine how large a pan you need. We came up with plump, meaty shanks that necessitated the use of two pans. It wasn't a problem. We simply divided the rest of the ingredients (there was ample sauce) between two roasting pans.

Also, if you're adventurous, seek out a recipe for demiglace and have a go. But given the time (hours of simmering and skimming the reduction) and expense factors, we went the alternate route.

Both canned consomme (Heinz) and powdered beef base (Knorr's) were suggested by two chefs. Unable to find the Heinz product, we searched for a beef base. The Knorr's brand put us off with its MSG component, so we opted for what was in the pantry: Watkins beef base. It allowed the meat and vegetable juices to shine through. It was souplike but immensely flavorful.

In a brazier 4 inches deep or a deep 9-by-15-inch rectangular pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add crushed, whole peeled garlic and brown slightly.

Dust veal shanks with flour and place in pan, browning on both sides. Discard any excess oil.

Spread tomato paste over each individual shank and turn upside down.

Add salt and pepper and rosemary on top of veal shanks.

Add demiglace (or substitute). Cover and place in a 375-degree oven for 90 minutes.

Uncover, add vegetables and baste the shanks generously with sauce and place back in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Pull out and let sit for 15 minutes.

Serve with sauce and root vegetables. Makes 6 servings of 2 shanks apiece.


We made a mistake. We incorrectly spelled a reader's name. We apologize to Ed Pilszak of Sharpsburg, Ga. He sent us the super Bourbon Basting Blast sauce featured in the June 5 Kitchen Mailbox.

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