Veal Shanks Braised with Tomatoes and Peas

Ossobuchi ai Piselli

When braised gently and patiently, veal shanks become fork tender and wonderfully rich in flavor. It’s almost impossible to go wrong. This is one of the many variations on the classic recipe. Peas and veal go very well together.

Preparation time: 20 minutes (30 if using fresh peas)
Total time from start to finish: hours (2 hours 40 minutes if using fresh peas)


  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 veal shank slices, about 1 pound each
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 large beef bouillon cube
  • 10 ounces frozen peas or 2 pounds fresh peas in the pod


  1. Peel and finely chop the onion.
  2. Put the vegetable oil and butter in a braising pan large enough to accommodate the veal shanks in a single layer. Place the pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Put the flour on a small plate. Pat the veal shanks dry with a paper towel and coat them on both sides with the flour, shaking off the excess. When the oil and butter in the pan are hot and the butter is just beginning to turn color, put in the veal shanks and brown them on both sides. Remove them from the pan and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until it turns a rich golden color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Return the veal shanks to the pan. Add the bouillon cube and enough water to come just below the top surface of the meat. Cover with the lid slightly askew and cook, turning the veal about every 20 minutes, until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. If all the liquid evaporates before the meat is done, add a little water.
  5. While the veal is cooking, shell the fresh peas if using. When the veal is ten-der, add the peas and cook for 10 minutes if using frozen peas, and about 20 minutes if using fresh. If the sauce is still rather liquidy, uncover the pan, raise the heat, and cook until the sauce reduces and coats the meat. Serve at once.


Like most braised meat dishes, the veal shanks will keep well for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, add a couple tablespoons water, cover, and place over medium-low heat.