Market ingredient: Buffalo shin
Difficulty: Simple, but cooking takes a while
Did The Beard like it? “Good comfort food, although I wouldn’t have known it was Buffalo if you didn’t tell me.”
I get really excited when I discover a new stall at Eveleigh. Really, really excited. I know my way around the market like the back of my hand; where each grower or farmer sets up stall, who to go to for my coffee, who has the best radishes and which is my preferred florist. However, about a month ago I completely flipped out when I discovered the buffalo mozzarella of AusBuff Stuff. These guys are such lovely people and rear buffalo mainly for their dairy. Not only do they have fantastic mozzarella, but amazingly awesome buffalo milk gelato. True story. And it’s delicious. Even though their buffalo are raised for their dairy products, AusBuff Stuff does use some of the animals for their meat. Buffalo is generally a really lean meat, so is best when cooked rare. However, like most beasts, some cuts are tougher than others and require slower cooking.
This week, AusBuff Stuff had some huge slices of shin, also known as osso buco. Now, I’ve been going with a bit of a slow cook theme of late, being winter and all, and osso buco is another such dish. Osso buco literally means ‘bone with a hole” in Italian, referring to the marrow-filled hole within the shin bone itself. It’s also the name of a well-known Italian dish that uses this cut of meat. The traditional Milanese dish uses veal cooked in white wine, stock and vegetables. The recipe I’ve put together below is not quite as traditional – still uses those above ingredients, however I’ve used the buffalo, tomatos and thyme for a bit more of a flavour hit.
Ingredients for buffalo osso buco
- 2 thick buffalo shin (osso buco)
- freshly ground black pepper
- plain flour
- 2 tbsn olive oil
- 25g butter
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 can of chopped and peeled tomatos
- 3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 1/2 medium brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped into small chunks
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped into small chunks
- 375mL chicken stock
- a few sprigs of thyme
- Roll the shin pieces in seasoned flour. Melt half the butter and oil in a heave based casserole dish and brown the meat on both sides. Set aside.
- Melt the remaining butter and oil and gently fry the the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the carrot and celery and gently fry for 2-3 minutes. Arrange the meat pieces in a single layer, with the side that has the most marrow visible uppermost.
- Pour on wine and allow to bubble up strongly. Add the tomato, thyme and enough stock to barely cover the meat. Put baking paper, cut to fit, on top of the liquid to protect the meat and delay evaporation.
- Cover the casserole and simmer for 45 minutes on top of the stove. Check that the meat is still covered with sauce. If it isn’t, add a little more stock or water and replace the baking paper. Cook for another 30-45 minutes – by this time the sauce should have reduced and become thick and the meat should be quite tender. If the meat is not ready, cook for a further 15-30 minutes. To reduce the sauce if it is too liquid, remove the lid and increase the heat for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve with creamy mash, risotto or polenta.
This was the perfect Sunday night comfort dish. Rich and tasty, however what it wasn’t was a pretty dish. I did have to laugh when I served it up as it just looked so ugly! But it sure was delicious. The buffalo meat is actually very similar to beef in flavour, so generally a tastier meat than the traditional veal used for osso buco. I was interested to see whether the fact that buffalo was normally lean would mean that this slow cooking method would just make it tough, but it didn’t. The meat was well cooked but tender.
One thing I found during the cooking process was that the fibrous tissue around the meat tightened, which caused the meat itself to curl upwards. I wanted to ensure that the meat remained in the liquid and didn’t dry out, so I actually cut some of the pieces to make them lie flat in the liquid. I don’t know for sure that this made a difference, but it did mean that the meat will continue to take on the flavour of the liquid in which it is cooking.
I’d definitely do this dish again and I think I’ve become a fan of buffalo meat! A lot like beef, it’s delicious and would be the perfect meat if you like your steaks really rare. The AusBuff Stuff guys did ask for feedback on the osso buco as it was the first time they had done this cut – it was definitely a winner and I hope they continue to sell it!