This authentic Italian osso buco made in the slow cooker is a mouth-wateringly delicious and fork-tender recipe. It’s super simple to make with easy-to-find ingredients. Use whichever meat you have on hand – beef shank, pork, or traditional veal. You will need only 20 minutes of prep time, and the rest will cook on its own.
“Ossobuco” is Italian for “bone with a hole”, referring to the delicious braised veal shank at its heart. It’s a dish steeped in tradition, renowned for its rich flavor and tender meat that effortlessly falls off the bone. Despite its gourmet appeal, this dish is surprisingly simple, especially when using an adapted authentic Italian recipe for the slow cooker.
In just 20 minutes of hands-on preparation, you set the stage for the slow cooker to work its magic, producing a dish with a tantalizing aroma that fills your home. The blend of spices and vegetables enhances the meat’s taste, making it an irresistible comfort food. And while it’s a sophisticated dish, it’s so delightful even kids can’t resist its charm.
Choose from garnishes like pasta, creamy polenta, or risotto to complement the Ossobuco. And while veal shanks are traditional, some also opt for pork or lamb variations. Either way, the dish’s mouthwatering scent and rich taste always earn rave reviews.
Perfect for busy weeknights, the slow cooker does the heavy lifting, giving you a gourmet meal with minimal effort. Dive into this Italian culinary treasure; its ease and taste will astonish you!
🥰 Why You Will Love This Recipe?
- You’ll absolutely love making this Osso Buco because it’s the ultimate comfort food. It’s perfect for those times when you want to warm up and indulge in a meal that’s rich, flavorful, and deeply satisfying.
- The best part about this recipe is how easy it is to make. You don’t need to be a professional chef to whip up a dish that tastes this good. The simple steps and readily available ingredients make it accessible to anyone.
- If you have a busy schedule, you’ll appreciate the convenience of using a slow cooker. Just toss in the ingredients, set it, and let it do the work. You can go about your day while the magic happens in the kitchen.
- When you take that first bite of the tender veal (or alternative meat), you’ll be amazed. It practically melts in your mouth and gives you a sense of accomplishment, knowing you created something so delightful.
- As the Osso Buco simmers away, your kitchen will be filled with irresistible aromas. It’s like a warm embrace that invites you to sit down and savor the moment.
- You have the freedom to choose your favorite accompaniment, whether it’s pasta, creamy polenta, or risotto. This flexibility allows you to tailor the meal to your exact cravings.
- Making this recipe brings a touch of Italy to your own kitchen. It’s like embarking on a culinary journey, allowing you to experience the flavors and traditions of Italy without leaving home.
🥘 Ingredients And Substitutes
- Veal shanks: Traditionally, Osso Buco is made with veal shank. But why? Veal shank, a cut from the calf’s leg, is rich in collagen. When cooked slowly, this collagen breaks down, transforming into gelatin that gives the sauce its characteristic silky, rich texture. The marrow from the bone is another highlight, imparting a luxurious depth to the sauce. Veal, being a younger animal, offers a tender, delicate flavor, distinguishing Osso Buco from other braised meat dishes. But, if you don’t have veal shanks, you can substitute them with beef or pork shanks for a slightly different flavor and texture.
- All-purpose flour: It’s primarily used to provide structure in many dishes. If you have dietary restrictions, alternative flours like rice flour, almond flour, or gluten-free flour can serve similar purposes.
- Carrots add sweetness and texture. Sweet potatoes or butternut squash can be a suitable replacement, offering similar sweetness and texture.
- Onions contribute a foundational aromatic flavor to many dishes. For a milder or slightly different taste, shallots or leeks can be effective substitutes.
- Celery Stalk (optional) offers a crisp texture and a subtle earthy flavor. If unavailable, celery seeds or celery salt can impart a similar flavor.
- Capers: These add a distinctive tangy, briny flavor. Green olives or chopped pickles can replicate this tanginess if capers are unavailable.
- Anchovies: They bring a salty and umami depth to dishes. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option or simply don’t prefer anchovies, miso paste or soy sauce can offer a comparable umami kick.
- Tomato sauce: It provides a rich, acidic base to many dishes. Crushed tomatoes or tomato puree are good alternatives when tomato sauce is not on hand.
- Water or vegetable broth: These liquids help in cooking and developing flavors. Chicken broth, beef broth, or white wine can be used as alternatives to give more depth and character to your dish.
🔄 Recipe Variations
Vegetarian Osso Buco
Instead of Veal Shank: Use large portobello mushrooms or thick slices of eggplant as the main component. These veggies have a meaty texture and soak up the flavors beautifully.
For Bone Marrow Replacement: Incorporate nutritional yeast into the sauce for an umami boost or use a dollop of tahini in the center of the mushroom or eggplant for a creamy, rich center.
Vegan Osso Buco
Instead of Veal Shank: Jackfruit, with its stringy texture, can be an excellent substitute. Marinate it in the sauce to absorb the flavors.
Vegan “Bone Marrow”: A mix of blended cashews with a touch of miso paste can mimic the creamy richness of bone marrow.
Keto-friendly Osso Buco
Reducing Carbs: Replace the traditional tomato-based sauce with a rich bone broth and add more of herbs for flavoring.
Additional Protein: Consider adding chunks of chicken or turkey for added protein and variation.
👩🍳 Step-By-Step Directions
Take off the meat from the fridge 2-3 hours before cooking. This should be enough for the meat to reach room temperature.
Season the meat with salt and pepper to your taste.
After that, take a large bowl and pour the flour into it. Pass the meat through the flour on both sides.
After that, shake off the excess flour.
Next, we need to brown the meat. I used a multicooker, but a pan with a thick bottom is also perfect for this dish. Heat the pan, then pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add the meat to the pan, and brown it well on both sides.
After the meat is well browned, take it out of the pan and place it on a plate.
Grate the carrot and onion or chop them into small cubes. I used a grater to save some time.
Without washing the pan in which you just browned the meat, add the onion, carrot (optional celery), capers, and anchovies.
Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables become soft and the anchovy fillets melt.
Now it’s time to pour the tomato sauce into the pan. Of course, you can use any tomato sauce from the jar or use just pilled tomatoes. I decided to use my own sauce. If you are interested in how to prepare it, see the recipe on how to make your own tomato sauce.
After that, put the meat back into the pan.
Add a cup of water or broth.
It is important to cover the entire surface of the meat with liquid. After that put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for about 3-4 hours.
In the end, you will get very delicious meat that falls off the bone on its own.
I also highly suggest you try this recipe near an Italian polenta. As usual, we have a recipe for how to make the best polenta with butter and parmesan.
🍽️ Serving Suggestions
- Picture this – a generous ladle of creamy, buttery polenta nestled on your plate, crowned with a succulent Osso Buco. The soft, velvety polenta is like a cozy bed for the tender meat and savory sauce. Don’t forget to sprinkle a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top for that irresistible Italian touch. This combination is pure comfort food heaven.
- Serve your Osso Buco over a creamy, perfectly cooked risotto. The creamy rice soaks up all the delicious sauce, creating a symphony of flavors in every bite. A sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil adds a touch of elegance to this dish.
- For a quicker yet equally delightful option, toss some al dente pasta with your Osso Buco sauce. Pappardelle or tagliatelle are excellent choices as their broad ribbons embrace the sauce beautifully. Finish with a dusting of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese for an easy and satisfying meal.
- Elevate your Osso Buco by preparing a zesty gremolata to sprinkle on top just before serving. Mix finely chopped fresh parsley, grated lemon zest, and minced garlic. This vibrant garnish adds a burst of freshness and contrast to the rich flavors of the dish, creating a harmonious balance.
- Serve your Osso Buco with a side of crusty Italian bread. Not just any bread – toast it, rub it with a garlic clove, and drizzle with olive oil. Use it to soak up the delicious sauce and savor every drop. It’s a rustic and soul-satisfying way to enjoy this classic dish.
- Embrace simplicity by pairing Osso Buco with a rustic vegetable medley. Roast or sauté seasonal vegetables like carrots, asparagus, and bell peppers with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Their natural sweetness and crunch provide a lovely contrast to the rich meat.
- Balance the richness of Osso Buco with a crisp green salad. A simple mix of arugula or baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and shaved Parmesan tossed in a lemony vinaigrette complements the dish beautifully. It’s a refreshing and palate-cleansing addition.
- Traditional Osso Buco: A medium-bodied Italian red wine such as Chianti or Barolo. Their earthy undertones and balanced acidity perfectly match the richness of the dish.
- Vegetarian or Vegan Osso Buco: A white wine like Pinot Grigio or Vermentino. These wines have a bright acidity that can complement the earthiness of mushrooms or the unique flavors of jackfruit.
- Keto-friendly Osso Buco: A full-bodied red like Cabernet Sauvignon or an old-world Tempranillo. Their robust flavors stand up well to the increased protein and reduced tomato sauce.
🏆 Expert Tips. What To Pay Attention To?
- Start with high-quality veal shanks or your choice of meat. Look for cuts with good marbling; it makes all the difference in flavor and tenderness.
- When coating the meat with flour, don’t rush it. Make sure each piece gets a light, even dusting. This will help create a beautiful, thick sauce later.
- When browning the meat, patience is key. Let it develop that gorgeous golden-brown crust on all sides. It’s where the flavor begins.
- After browning, don’t discard those tasty brown bits at the bottom of the pan. That’s pure flavor gold. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine or broth to incorporate all those delicious tidbits.
- When adding the onion, carrot, capers, and anchovies, take your time to sauté them until they’re soft and fragrant. This builds layers of flavor that will make your Osso Buco sing.
- If using store-bought tomato sauce, opt for one made with high-quality tomatoes. However, if you have the time, making your own sauce from fresh tomatoes elevates the dish to another level.
- Ensure the meat is completely submerged in liquid when simmering. This guarantees even cooking and that luscious, fall-off-the-bone texture.
- The magic of Osso Buco happens when you let it simmer low and slow. Don’t rush this step; give it the time it deserves. Trust me, it’s worth it.
🤔 Answering Your Questions:
What Is Osso Buco?
Osso Buco is a classic Italian dish made with veal shanks that are slow-cooked in a rich, flavorful sauce until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
Can I Use a Different Type of Meat Besides Veal Shanks?
Yes, you can use beef or pork shanks instead of veal, but the flavor and texture of the dish will be slightly different.
How Long Should I Cook the Osso Buco in the Slow Cooker?
The Osso Buco should be cooked on low heat in the slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours, or until the meat is tender and easily falls off the bone.
Can I Make This Recipe on the Stove or in the Oven?
Yes, you can make this recipe on the stove or in the oven, but you will need to adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly. Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours on the stove or in a 350°F oven for 2-3 hours.
📋 Recipe Card:
Italian Slow Cooker Osso Buco
- Take off the meat from the fridge 2-3 hours before cooking.
- Season the meat with salt and pepper to your taste.4 veal shanks, Salt
- After that, take a large bowl and pour the flour into it. Pass the meat through the flour on both sides.½ cup All-purpose Flour
- Shake off the excess flour.
- Use a pan with a thick bottom. Heat the pan, then pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add the meat to the pan, and brown it well on both sides.3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- After the meat is well browned, take it out of the pan and place it on a plate.
- Grate the carrot and onion or chop them into small cubes. I used a grater to save some time.1 Carrot, 1 Onion
- Without washing the pan in which you just browned the meat, add the onion, carrot (optional celery), capers, and anchovies.1 celery Stalk, 2 teaspoon Capers, 4-5 anchovies
- Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables become soft and the anchovy fillets melt.
- Pour the two cups of tomato sauce into the pan.2 cups Tomato Sauce
- After that, return the meat to the pan.
- Add a cup of water or broth.1 cup Broth
- It is important to cover the entire surface of the meat with liquid. After that put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for about 3-4 hours.
- In the end, you will get very delicious meat that falls off the bone on its own.
I highly recommend reading the entire recipe to find more tips and notes about this recipe. Read Full Recipe ⇑
- When selecting veal shanks or alternative meats, look for cuts with visible marbling. This intramuscular fat enhances the tenderness and flavor of your Osso Buco.
- Coating the meat with flour not only aids in browning but also thickens the sauce during cooking. Don’t skip this step; it adds depth to the dish.
- If you have dietary restrictions, consider using rice flour, almond flour, or gluten-free flour as a substitute for all-purpose flour.
- The charm of Osso Buco lies in its rustic appearance. Embrace imperfections; the sauce should have a homemade, chunky texture.
- For a more intense flavor profile, consider using homemade tomato sauce. Fresh tomatoes, slow-cooked and seasoned to perfection, elevate the dish.
- Don’t forget the gremolata! A sprinkle of finely chopped fresh parsley, grated lemon zest, and minced garlic adds a zesty, aromatic finish to your Osso Buco.
We’d love to hear from you!
Have a twist on this recipe or a secret ingredient of your own? Share your insights in the comments below. If you’ve tried making this osso buco, post a photo and tag us—we’re eager to see your culinary creations. Your tips and variations might just inspire someone else’s next favorite dish!”