I try to have a “Plan B” whenever experimenting with a new dish… So when I decided to use three veal shanks for this roasted recipe I featured a few days ago, I worried that it was too simple to be so good, so the “Plan B” was to use the remaining three shanks in a braised dish nearly identical to these osso buco a la milanese which I have done several times before to very good results. For seven people at dinner, I figured roughly one shank each if all worked out well, and if only one version turned out okay, we could still eat well and just bulk up on the potatoes and veggies served alongside the shanks. :)
To make, dry the shanks with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, lightly coat with flour and brown or caramelize all over in vegetable oil. Remove the oil, add some olive oil, and sweat some onions, celery and carrots. Add some tomato paste and cook it for 30 seconds or so, then add a cup or more of white wine and burn off the alcohol, then add some crushed of chopped canned tomatoes. Make a bouquet garni of fresh or dried bay leaves, thyme, a few cloves) and add to pot. Add several cups of beef broth, several rinds (no pith) of orange and lemon and let this simmer away for 1.5 hours until the meat is tender. It may take longer if your shanks are really big. The aroma that fills your kitchen and home is terrific, much better than a scented candle.
Once the meat is nearly falling off the bone, remove the shanks and reduce the sauce until it is a thicker consistency. You can remove the bouquet garni and large bits of citrus peel and serve this on top of the shanks, in a very rustic presentation. Or, you can pass the sauce through a chinois (fancy name for a conical strainer) and press down on the solids yielding a thick, flavorful, unctuous sauce or gravy that is served on top of, and alongside the braised veal shanks. Have lots of potatoes, polenta or even rice on the side. This was really good… but surprisingly, most of our dinner guests felt the experimental roasted shanks beat these by a hair on the satisfaction survey. Either way, two ways to prepare veal shanks if you ever come across them. The shanks are economical and yield a very impressive main course for family and friends. :)
P.S. Add some chopped Italian parsley, freshly grated lemon rind and some finely minced garlic just before serving if you like, in true osso buco milanese style. I tend to omit the raw garlic as I find it overwhelming.