It’s now cliché to say that we’re all trying to save money, especially at the grocery store. $100 used to fill 3-4 (fabric) bags and now I sigh and glare into the 2 bags I trudge to my car. But it doesn’t have to be depressing — stretching the grocery budget has become a new, fervent game of transforming base, cheap groceries into ethereal food worthy of restaurant tables (which I don’t frequent as often either).
So when 7-bone chuck roast was on sale last week for $2.99/lb., I bought a 3-pound hunk with high hopes of culinary success. After some brainstorming, I dug out a recipe for veal osso bucco — one of my faves at Italian restaurants that costs around $30 a pop– and thought, if it can transform baby cow shins into something magical, why can’t I use the same philosophy for a tough, bony piece of its daddy? (I’m assuming I lost any and all vegetarians with that comment.)
This recipe could work with any other bone-in meat destined for braising but keep in mind, this isn’t a weeknight kind of dish — it’s a labor of gustatory love for a Saturday or Sunday. Estimated cost for a meal that serves 4-6 people = around $16.
Poor Man’s Osso Bucco
1 3-pound bone-in chuck roast
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
4-5 grinds of pepper mill or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour or oat flour
1 tablespoon butter, divided
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
2 uncooked bacon slices, diced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef broth
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (you can buy less expensive whole and then chop them too)
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 fresh garlic clove, minced (resist the urge to use the jarred kind, fresh has more bite)
1. Cut roast into 6 pieces, cutting around the bone but leaving some meat intact on the bones. Sprinkle each piece with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and all of the pepper; dredge in flour on a plate.
2. Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 3 of the roast pieces and cook for around 8 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove to a plate and add remaining butter to the pan and repeat with other pieces. Remove to the meat plate.
3. Add onions, carrots, celery and bacon to pan and saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add wine and cook until liquid almost evaporates, around 6-7 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, broth and tomatoes.
4. Return meat to pan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 2 1/2 – 3 hours or until meat is tender. Taste for salt.
5. Combine parsley, lemon rind and garlic in a small bowl. Stir into osso bucco and cook 10 minutes.
6. Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta.