Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Comfort Food - Pork Osso Buco

Here it is. March. It's still winter (at least where I am) and they're still talking about a recession. But signs are coming that spring is near (there was actually a few spits of rain today during my 7 minute commute after work). So time is running out on those wonderful comfort-food meals that you make during the dark nights of winter.

Tonight I'm making Pork Osso Buco. An oxymoron you ask? Isn't Osso Buco always from veal? Technically, yes. And I'm sure there are Italians reeling at this bastardization of a traditional recipe. But pork is a good substitute for a number of reasons:
  1. Although I'm clearly a carnivore, I always get a sad twinge when eating veal (have you seen a baby cow - they're so darned cute). Of course, I get over it and still eat my veal, but nonetheless, there's a twinge.
  2. Economy. I use pork hocks vs. veal shanks. Pork hocks are lower down on the leg of the animal than the shank, and are insanely cheap, but incredibly delicious and great for yourself or even a dinner with guests.
  3. It's different. Why do the same thing all the time?
Let's begin.

The first time I made Osso Bucco, I used a recipe by
Tyler Florence from his real kitchen cookbook. I've really liked celebrity chef Tyler Florence ever since his Food 911 days (I wish they would bring back re-runs of this show, or some DVD version). I remember being on a trip to Boulder, Colorado right when this cookbook was out and was elated to find a deal on it. Worth every penny.

The thing about pork shanks is they are often big, or perhaps long is the better description. So I get my butcher to cut them in half (not lengthwise) and plan for each piece to be a portion. I start by dredging the hocks in the flour mixture. And then I tie with butcher string to help them from falling apart while cooking.

Heat your pressure cooker pot on med-high heat. Melt some margarine (or oil and butter mixture). And brown the shanks on all sides. Remove the shanks to a plate.
Now it's veggie time. Chop an onion, some carrots, some celery, and garlic.
Put them into the pressure cooker which you've already prepared your pork hocks in. Chuck in some bay leaves and thyme. And wait. The aroma of this mixture is heavenly. I wish you could put scents on the internet (good ones at least) because at this point, your kitchen is smelling great. (Add to this some garlic roasting in the oven for the garlic mashed potato accompaniment and you'll pretty much be drooling on the counter).

Once the veggies have softened and started to get some nice colour, add some red wine. I will restate here, the rule of thumb which I'm sure you've heard a million times, do not use cooking wine and do not use wine that you wouldn't drink. This doesn’t mean that you have to use expensive wine, but please try to use something relatively decent.
Let the wine simmer down, and then add some canned consommé and some tomatoes. I used canned tomatoes that were drained. Per a former blog, I've discovered that you don't need as much liquid when utilizing pressure cooker technology.

Although I find that I'm quite enjoying the speed and quality of pressure cooked meals, this is where it gets boring. Put the lid on according to the manufacturers instructions, set to high pressure, and once the it reaches pressure. Wait for 50 minutes.


Yet fast.

At least compared to the usual 3-4 hours of cook time.

After 50 minutes of cooking under pressure. I turned the burner off. I let the dish reduce pressure on it's own. The final dish was delicious. Still a lot more watery than if done in the oven (reduce liquid even more next time). I served over garlic mashed potatoes (my own recipe). Yummy!

I'm quite amazed that I was able to do this meal on a week night. A dish that's usually 3-4 hours, was more tender than ever, and done within with 1.5 hours total. I still found it had a bit too much liquid, so next time I try this in the pressure cooker, I would reduce the liquids a bit more.

I served over yummy garlic mashed (not smashed) potatoes.

Pork Osso Buco in a Pressure Cooker
This recipe is inspired by Tyler Florence's real kitchen but has been changed quite a bit for pressure cooker and general ingredient purposes.

2 pork hocks, cut in half
Flour for dredging seasoned with salt and pepper
4 tablespoons margarine
1 medium onion diced
1 celery stalk sliced or diced
2 carrots peeled and chopped
3 large garlic cloves chopped
2 bay leave
2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups red wine (I'd use less next time)
1/2 can consommé
1 large can tomatoes drained

Dredge the pork hocks in seasoned flour. Melt the margarine in the pressure cooker and brown the hocks on all sides. Once browned remove to a plate (for now). Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Sauté until soft and a bit coloured. Add the wine and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the consommé and tomatoes. Return the hocks back to the pressure cooker. Secure the lid. Bring to high pressure and let cook for 50 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Your initial instructions DON'T say to return the meat to the cooker. Luckily it's mentioned in the summary! I'll try it now!