Lamb Osso Buco

I started making osso buco with lamb instead of veal because lamb marrow is my favorite, and much to my delight, I found I prefer the rich intense flavor the lamb shanks give to the dish rather than the more delicate, less assertive flavor of the traditional veal.

This hearty meal is for when the cooler weather arrives. I chose it for Columbus Day because it is an example of Italian inspiration and American innovation.

volume ounces/pounds grams/kilograms
all-purpose flour ¼ cup 1.25 ounces 36 grams
salt teaspoons 0.4 ounce 12 grams
pepper, freshly ground ½ teaspoon
6 lamb shanks, about 16 ounces each, each sawed crosswise into 2 pieces (have the butcher do this) 6 pounds 2 kilograms, 722 grams
olive oil, divided ¼ liquid cup
unsalted butter 2 tablespoons 1 ounce 28 grams
3 small carrots, scraped and chopped 1 cup 4.5 ounces 128 grams
celery, finely chopped (about ¼ stalk including leaves) ¼ cup 1 ounce 30 grams
1 medium onion, chopped 1 cup 4.5 ounces 128 grams
garlic, minced (1 small clove) 1 teaspoon 3.5 grams
tomato sauce 1 8-ounce can 8 ounces 227 grams
dry white vermouth or white wine 1 liquid cup
dried basil 1 teaspoon
dried thyme ½ teaspoon
1 bay leaf
lemon zest, finely grated 1 teaspoon 2 grams
fresh parsley, preferably flat-leafed, minced 2 tablespoons 0.25 ounce 8 grams
garlic, minced (1 small clove) ½ teaspoon


On a large plate, mix the flour with the salt and pepper. Roll each piece of lamb shank in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Reserve any remaining flour.

Heat a large heavy frying pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until a film appears over the oil. Add only as much lamb as will fit without crowding and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes, adding more oil as necessary to keep the lamb from sticking. Remove the lamb to a bowl and set it aside. Pour off the fat and discard it.

In the same pan, heat the butter until bubbling. Sauté the carrots, celery and onion for about 5 minutes or until the onion is softened and translucent. Sprinkle on any remaining flour mixture, stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for abodt 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato sauce, vermouth or white wine, basil, thyme and bay leaf. Add the shanks and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1¾ to 2 hours or until tender, turning the shanks once after 45 minutes. A knife inserted into the meat should enter easily but the meat should not be falling off the bone. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a few tablespoons of boiling water.

While the shanks are cooking, prepare the gremolada: Combine the lemon zest, parsley and garlic and chop together until very finely chopped and well blended.

When the shanks are done, add the gremolada to the pan and turn the shanks. Cover, remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Arrange the shanks on a warmed serving dish. (If the sauce seems too thin, boil over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until reduced to about 2 cups.) Spoon the sauce over the shanks.