Are you after a twist on osso bucco to add to your arsenal? Do you need something to put to use the tub of olives your four year old insisted you buy in the grocery store, but has since refused to eat? Do you need a rib sticking, comforting slow braise that can easily satisfy paleo/dairy free/ gluten free folk and pure carnivores alike? Do you need a multi tasking meal that can hold its own with cauliflower puree for a dinner party, then reinvent itself as ragu with pasta the next night (and possibly taste even better?) If so, I think I can help. Skip straight to the matching recipe at the bottom. If you have the appetite for a bit of waffle and some endorsements, read on.
I’m all about the multi tasking meal. Some things certainly taste better the next day. And you can give it a fancy name like ‘batch cooking’ or ‘meal prep’ if you want, but to be honest, sometimes you only have the wherewithal to do one big cook- so best make it a useful one.
Maybe you’re flying solo. Maybe your kids have got croup again (CAN I PLEASE TRADE IN THE LUNGS ON BOTH OF MY CHILDREN). Maybe you’re realising that it’s been far too long between drinks with close friends/trips to the dentist/ hairdresser/physio. Or maybe it’s suddenly turned freezing outside and all you want to do is eat squishy warm things out of bowls, while wearing tracksuits and watch ‘Masterchef’ with your four year old curled up on the couch next to you and make him repeat ‘tarte tatin’ again and again because you love the sound it makes coming out of his mouth.
If any of these apply, make this osso bucco. To be honest, this was not going to be osso bucco. It was supposed to be pea and ham soup. Except the butcher didn’t have any ham bones and I was too scared of the Jenga tower in my freezer to go fossicking for ours from Christmas. Instead there were osso bucco bones. The genius part of osso bucco is the marrow in the centre of the bones. If you want to be greedy, then after slow cooking fork all the meat from the bones and return it to the pot. Then take all the marrow-stuffed bones for yourself and create a cook’s perk of a snack; scoop the marrow out and have it on toast with chopped parsley, capers, onion and olives and pretend that you’re at Fergus Henderson’s St John in Smithfield (you should probably follow it with some eccles cakes and Lancashire cheese).
This is essentially a simple braise, bulked out with wilted greens at the end (#eatmoregreens!) and the zip and lift that you would normally apply with a gremolata is replaced with black olives and rosemary. There are tricks to making a great braise; firstly pat the meat dry before you brown it, then season with salt and then brown it heartily. Don’t try and turn the pieces until a crust has formed and they are released by the bottom of the pan. Do not crowd the pan otherwise they will stew rather than sear. Use a hearty bottle of red wine. And taste the braise at the end and adjust the seasoning, add a little more salt, a little sugar, or a nip of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar if it tastes flat. I like to serve it over cauliflower puree, but pureed white beans, mashed potato, pearl barley, rice or quinoa would all work. The leftovers are grand shredded with a fork and tossed with gnocchi. They’re also great in a toasted sandwich with mozzarella (or work well for fancy baby food with sweet potato puree and quinoa).
The leftover red wine from the bottle is also pretty great for adult morale too. Promise.
Here are a few other things that are going on:
Reading: This piece on Medium that my sister sent me about ‘Performative Parenting’ and some of the implications of sharing a domestic life online. “This is performative parenting: a version of motherhood that positions itself before an audience seeking a reward, an identity, beyond motherhood itself.” Ooh. My sister was careful to send it with a caveat; it’s not intended as criticism, just food for thought. That it is. For me; the balance has always swung to the positive when it comes to sharing (that’s why I still do it – but also, once an over sharer, always an over sharer). So much of parenting is done in silos. Like the author; “I’ve seen how the internet can be a “village” for moms/mums in its own right, brimming with opportunities to learn and connect with other parents as we all figure out motherhood together.” I choose to look for the good and ignore the nutty. I don’t have the energy to ‘curate’ a social media profile of my children towards a particular brand identity (good god, can anyone imagine having the time to do that?) My instagram is just as likely to share the highs (cute moment of Evie sneaking warm cookies while I’m photographing them), as the lows- and the support that comes during those lows has far outweighed any judgement or loss of self. And the online parenting forums are worth it for pearlers like this from the Northern Beaches alone; ‘Mums, how do people stop their diamond earrings from scratching their iphone screens?’ Oh how I chortled over that one. Worth a read and a ponder.
Anne Lamott’s Stitches. I’m going through a bit of an Anne Lamott phase at the moment (see my previous endorsement for revisiting ‘Bird by Bird’. Her small book ‘Stitches’ is ostensibly on hope and repair. It’s got nuggets that make you reach for a pencil. Back when I was doing my university exams I’d have post it notes with quotes put up around my desk. If I was quarantined again for a while I’d be tempted to put up ones like this; ” It is what it is. We’re social, tribal, musical animals, walking percussion instruments. Most of us do the best we can. We show up. We strive for gratitude and try not to be such babies”. I’m not religious, but; Amen. Motto for the week; sorted.
Also: ‘The Museum of Modern Love‘ by Heather Rose. Buy it for anyone who loves art, great writing and a transcendent story. I couldn’t put it down.
Listening: Amelia Morris, of BonAppetempt has just launched a podcast; ‘Mom Rage’. It’s an honest and window-opening conversation about parenthood (but also, more specifically motherhood) by two savvy writers in California. The angle is an interesting one. There’s one topic that gets cautiously broached in intimate circles of women with two or more children ; and it’s rage. It’s not the first topic that you crack open in a catch up, but gosh, when you do there’s often a lot of grist for the collective mill. To be brutally honest; I had never known my potential for the volcanic fury like I experienced after having two children, and keeping it under control is sometimes the most challenging thing /the thing I’m proudest of (and ashamed of when I fail). This is not a house in which adults yell. Yet the inability to turn small people off, to step aside, to have peace, cleanliness, civility; coupled with the constant clamour, physicality of having multiple small people pawing at you, feeding off you, NEEDING you, dismissing you, hurting you, insulting you, irrationally demanding things ( we need to make a cubby where can hide from bears NOW), soiling things both precious and disposable, hurling things from on high while you subjugate your own desire for rest, food, creative and intellectual stimulation… all while loving them and feeling that at some measure, you’re inevitably failing them. This is the stuff that can produce occasional spurts of unpredictable…. rage. This is the stuff we don’t talk about. (This is probably what drove our grandmothers to Bex). This is Amelia and Edan’s jumping off point as they then explore a whole bunch of issues around contemporary motherhood. I listened to two episodes back to back while doing washing, folding washing, making snacks, cleaning up snacks, keeping my daughter out of the tupperware drawer, sweeping the floor, mopping the floor, wiping down the kitchen, disinfecting blocks that had been in the bath when my daughter befouled it and sat with a satisfied grin on her face and later, sitting on the side of a soft play park. If you feel like a little solidarity while doing any of those tasks, give it a listen.
Also: ‘This Movie Changed Me’ podcast. Particularly the episode on ‘You’ve Got Mail’. My schlocky taste in films is vindicated as ‘Harry Potter and the Sacred Text”s Casper ter Kuile talks about why it meant so much to him as a 14 year old, and why it helped shape the vision of the man he was going to marry. What he doesn’t go into is the troubling power dynamics of the film (how could she really love a man whose end game was destroy her business?), its transphobia or why Meg Ryan set up impossible standards for what a woman with a withering head cold would look like. But it does remind us of some of the great, great lines of the film and how it’s really a love letter to New York.
Reminiscing: With the royal wedding (the sequel) on the horizon, I’m reminiscing about being in London for the last one and the menu we designed for it, with the dishes inspired by each of the main players. I think my favourite was the Prince William Pork Wellingtons, with Spicy Carrot and Ginger Relish (for Harry). Recipe here.
I have one great weakness in this world (besides coffee choux pastries, pink wine and Nora Ephron films). It’s leisurewear. I’ve now reached the age where true luxury to me is being comfortable, cosy and having a jumper that covers my bum without advertising to the world that I’ve given up. Enter, this genius piece from Lululemon. It’s cost-per-wear for this winter is going to pay for itself in three weeks. Why? Because it’s stretchy and cosy and cut in a way that’s slightly slouchy and insouciant but casual and it dips low enough at the back to keep your kidneys warm and allow you to wear leggings without having to be too thoughtful about what pants you chose to put on that morning. AND; it’s reversible. One side is pale pink, the other a deeply nostalgic marle grey. If you roll the sleeves you get a hint of pink. If you have a propensity to spill coffee/food/ or have other people that like to use your clothing as a handkerchief, this two-sided thing might be handy. Yes, Lululemon can be a troubling company. Yes it’s crazy money to spend on a tracksuit top but BY GOSH it’s making me smile right now. Check it out here.
Watching: ‘The Good Fight’. If you’ve held off on watching “The Good Fight” because you never got around to finishing or watching “The Good Wife”, stop. It is far, far superior. Christine Baranski is a force to be reckoned with. The second season is holding a mirror up to crazy times and it’s the kind of show that makes you wish you had the flu so you could just hole up and binge watch it all.
Writing: This profile on tree-changer Amy Manton. Her Stand Tall retreats on the South Coast of NSW look glorious. If you fancy a change, need some time out or a chance to recharge and move on; I’d book in fast.
Osso Bucco with Olives and Kale
1.3 kg osso bucco (approx 5 pieces)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 red onions, peeled and diced
1 large rib of celery, trimmed and diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
250 ml/ 1 cup of red wine
100 g of pitted olives
5 stems of Tuscan kale, chopped
Salt to taste
1 Prepare your mirepoix, by chopping your onion, garlic, celery and carrot.
2. Heat a large cast iron pot or dutch oven (or if you’d like to cook in a slow cooker, then a frypan). Pat your osso bucco pieces dry and season with salt. Add one tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add the osso bucco pieces and sear until they release from the pan and are well browned (this is the base of much of the flavour in the braise. Don’t skip this step).
3 Set the meat aside. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and sautee the mirepoix for seven -10 minutes, until they are softened
4 Preheat the oven to 120 C/ 250F. Add the red wine to the pan and bring to a simmer. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any flavour that’s clinging to the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan and nestle around the vegetables. Add the tin of tomatoes and 1 sprig of rosemary. Bring to a simmer. Clamp on the lid and place in the oven for 4 hours.
5. After 4 hours check the braise. The meat should be forking apart. Add the kale and use the residual heat of the braise to wilt it. Add the olives and remaining chopped rosemary. Taste the sauce and add a little more salt if necessary to balance it. Serve with cauliflower puree, or your carb of choice.