Traditional Osso Buco

There are many delicious foods to discover in Italy, and one of those is osso buco or also known as ossobuco, which is veal shanks in English. It is a specialty of Lombard cuisine that is made of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, broth, and white wine. Most of the time, this dish is garnished with gremolata, a green sauce made of chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, and is served traditionally with risotto or polenta, depending on the regional variation. The defining feature of osso buco is the marrow in the hole in the bone, which is a prized delicacy. 

You can find two types of osso buco. The modern one includes tomatoes, while the original version does not. The older version of the dish is called ossobuco in bianco, which is flavored with bay leaf, gremolata, and cinnamon. The modern version, on the other hand, has tomatoes, celery, onions, and carrots. Veal is the traditional meat used for making osso buco, but alternatives can also be used, such as pork. 

raw veal being prepared for cooking osso buco

Osso buco is Italian for “bone with a hole.” This is in reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank. Read on to know more about traditional osso buco

Traditional Osso Buco Preparation

The primary ingredient of osso buco is veal shank. It is easy to find, relatively cheap, and delicious. However, this meat can be tough, but braising can make it tender. The traditional cut used for the osso buco dish is usually from the top of the shin, which has a higher proportion of bone to meat compared to other meaty veal cuts. Then, the shank is cross-cut into sections, which are about 3cm thick. 

cooking osso buco

Recipes of osso buco may vary, but most of them start with browning the veal shanks in butter after dipping them in flour. Some people prefer using vegetable oil or lard instead of butter. The braising liquid used is typically a combination of white wine and meat broth flavored with vegetables. 

Accompaniments of Traditional Osso Buco

As mentioned earlier, osso buco can be served with risotto or risotto alla millanese, which is its traditional accompaniment, creating a one-dish meal. This dish can also be eaten with polenta or mashed potatoes, especially if you are making the tomato-based version, which is prepared south of the Po River. There are also times when it is served with pasta. 

Osso Buco Recipes

Here are some of the simple way of cooking Osso Buco:

  • Traditional Osso Buco


  • 2 pounds of veal shanks cut into short lengths
  • ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2/3 cup of dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup of beef stock
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • Salt and pepper

For the gremolata:

  • ½ cup of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest


  • First, dust the veal shanks lightly with flour and set them aside. Get a large skillet and melt the butter in it over medium to medium-high heat. After that, add the veal and cook it until it turns brown on the outside. After cooking, remove it from the skillet and transfer it to a bowl and keep it warm.
  • Add the crushed garlic and chopped onions to the skillet and let them cook. Stir them until the onion becomes tender. Put the veal back to the pan and add in the chopped carrots, and pour in the dry wine. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, pour in the mixture the diced tomatoes and beef stock. Then, season it with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and let it simmer over low heat for an hour and a half. Also, try basting the veal every 15 minutes or so. Make sure that the meat is tender, but not to the point that it falls off the bone. 
  • Get a small bowl for the gremolata. Mix in it the chopped parsley, minced garlic, and grated lemon zest. You can sprinkle this over the veal before serving. 


  • Osso Buco Pies

In addition to the traditional way of cooking osso buco, people have come up with different ways to cook it. One example is the Osso Buco Pies by Gourmet Traveler. It is like a combination of pot pies and shepherd’s pie. Not only are they rich in flavor, but they also look impressive. You can also do this recipe for leftover osso buco meat. 

  • Smoked Osso Buco

You can also cook osso buco on the grill. This method gives a lovely smokiness to the meat, which is then braised in a tomato-rich sauce. If you are interested, you can find the full recipe at Grills Can Grill

  • Osso Buco with Mushrooms

This recipe uses the traditional beef or veal, but it brings mushrooms into the fold for extra meatiness and flavor. It also adds sage to the gremolata, making it a bit spicy. You can sere it over polenta, pasta, risotto, or potatoes. It is the same procedure as making the traditional osso buco, but with added mushrooms. 


Osso buco is indeed one of the traditional dishes in Italy that you should try. Even if it is ideal to be eaten for the colder months, you can still enjoy it all year round by experimenting with how you cook it. We hope this post helped you in learning more about the traditional osso buco.