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I am the 45 year old mother of Josie (17), Jacob (14) and Fergus (11) and the wife of Mark. We live in Newhaven on beautiful Phillip Island with various animals including our dog Charlie. I am a recently trained teacher (third year in the classroom) who is busy juggling family, career and my journey to lose weight and be healthy. I have so many balls in the air . . . hopefully, one day I might catch one . . .

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pasta with simmered veal shanks (or beef shin!)

I love the rich taste of osso bucco, but I don't love the fact that this is often quite a fatty, gristly cut of meat. Part of the problem is that ideally osso bucco should be cut from the shanks of the forelegs of the animal, rather than the back. Also, veal is preferable to fully grown cows. Here on Phillip Island it seems that all the osso bucco that is on offer is cut from the backlegs of very old cows, as it is often very gristly indeed. Part of the problem is that with working full time I haven't been able to develop a good relationship with my butcher to coerce him into saving the best parts for me, and I'm not great at pre-ordering, but that's another story. I have found that this pasta sauce satisfies my urge for rich tasting tender ossobucco, but means I can remove the fat and gristle before I eat it.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe by Donna Hay, but I have adapted it, particularly by adding another step--chilling the sauce so that I can remove the fat before I serve it. I usually cook this in the slow cooker, which takes a 8 or 9 hours, so I either cook the dish the day before I want to serve it or even over night, to allow it to cool in the fridge--an easy way to remove the fat. Therefore this dish takes a lot of TIME, but it is so dead easy and there is no chopping (other than shredding up the cooked meat) unlike in spaghetti bolognaise, etc. And my family likes it better than spag bol!!

For double quantity (to feed 8 hungry people--probably more weight watchers!) to cook in slow cooker. 3 points for an 8th of recipe.

  • 4 sliced cloves of garlic
  • handful of fresh thyme sprigs (use 1 tbs dried, or to taste)
  • 2 x 700ml bottle of tomato passata (could use tinned tomato puree or diced tomatoes instead)
  • 500 ml of red wine
  • 4 stock cubes dissolved in 2 cups of warm water
  • 8 large thick slices of osso bucco or beef shin (If you are lucky enough to find small thick slices of veal shank from the foreleg of the animal, use a couple more)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Rigatoni (or large penne or pappedelle--you need a robust type of pasta for this chunky sauce)
Place osso bucco in slow cooker. Toss in other ingredients. Cook on low for approximately 8 or9 hours.

Turn off slow cooker and remove meat. Allow to cool slightly and shred meat (you should be easily able to do this with your fingers or you can chop it a little with a knife if you prefer. I like getting my hands into food when I'm cooking, myself!) Usually the "marrow" will cook away, but if it is still in the bones, remove it and chop it too. It adds to the richness of the sauce. Return meat to the sauce allow to cool a little more and refrigerate.

Before heating, remove fat from the surface of the sauce. Now you have a beautiful rich sauce for your pasta. When you are ready to serve just gently reheat your sauce in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave while you cook your pasta. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

If it is a little too watery still, you can simmer it a little when you reheat it to serve.

NOTES: You can make a half quantity of this dish on the stove top or in the oven (160c for 2 1/2 hours). I cook a large amount because it will do us for two meals and I have a massive slow cooker, so if I want to use this, a double quantity works better (slow cookers work best if they are at least 1/2 full). If cooking on the stove top or in the oven, use 4 cups of water (instead of the two) with the stock cubes, or use 4 cups of stock, as there is more evaporation with these methods.

This is a very forgiving recipe!! One time, I made a big pot thinking I was feeding 8 and then 8 became 11. I just grabbed another bottle of passata and simmered it together with the sauce for 45 minutes and no one was any the wiser.

A more "watery" version of this sauce (add more stock/water & stock cubes) makes a nice sauce for lasagne.

I prefer Provisto Sugo or Aldi brand passata (puree tomato sauce) as they contain just tomatoes basically! Many other brands have heaps of salt and sugar or added herbs which affect the flavour.

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