I went to Italy on holiday in April and had a fabulous dinner at El Brellin in Milano; we enjoyed amazing osso buco and risotto milanese. I wrote some notes in my travel journal of the distinguishable flavors and then I bought a package of arborio rice and saffron at Eataly (in Milano) so that I could try to recreate the dish at home. These are the results of my labors!
The ingredient list is somewhat long and it does require a bit of time standing by the stove so I'd say this is more of a special occasion meal than an everyday weeknight dinner. However, I must say that the osso buco is pretty low maintenance and the risotto is worth the stove time. —Rach Kim
Osso buco: season shanks generously with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot (like a french oven) over medium heat and add in olive oil. Once the pan is hot, nestle in the shanks, one or two at a time, and sear until browned and the edges start to caramelize (about 4 minutes on each side). Remove the shanks to a plate and set aside.
Add onions, garlic, carrot, and celery to the pot and cook until soft. Stir in tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning.
Add wine to deglaze the pan and dissolve the fond. Use a spoon to scrape up any stubborn bits. Add beef stock, bay leaves, thyme, and parsley and then nestle the beef shanks back into the liquid.
Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone and tender.
Remove the shanks from the pot (carefully) and set aside. Raise the heat to medium and allow the liquid in the pot to bubble and reduce by about half.
Return the meat to the pot to warm through.
Gremolata: Using an herb chopping board (or just a regular board and knife), chop up the parsley leaves, garlic, and lemon zest together until it forms a paste.
Risotto: Add chicken stock and saffron to a saucepan over low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing the saffron to steep in the broth.
In a second pan (something wide and not too deep), add butter and place over medium heat. Add in onions and garlic and cook until softened.
Add in the rice and stir to coat each grain in fat. Toast lightly for 2 minutes. The grains should be translucent and a few grains should be lightly browned.
Add in wine and stir through. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
Add in a ladle of the saffron stock (about 1/2 cup) and stir through. Once the stock has been mostly absorbed, add in another ladle of the stock. Continue until the rice is just barely cooked through (looking for al dente finish). The rice should not be dry at all (it should not resemble a rice pilaf) and there should still be a visible amount of liquid in the pan - enough thickened "sauce" to coat each grain individually, but not so wet that the mixture is soupy.
Stir in the grated parmesan.
Serve: ladle a generous amount of risotto onto a plate (it should spread out slightly - like lava - if it's been properly cooked) immediately when it's ready. Serve a beef shank next to the risotto and spoon over a little of the sauce. Sprinkle some gremolata on top of the shank (the heat will release the essential oils).