“The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.”
~ Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
Slow-cooked real food. Is there anything more nourishing, more heart-warming and soul comforting?
This recipe came about by happy accident, as I was debating what remnant vegetables in the bottom of my crisper drawer would be relegated to the soup pot or the worm farm. A fist-sized beetroot was begging to be used up.
The seasons are doing their slow slide from summer to autumn here at the farm. The days are still warm but there’s a chill in the air come late afternoon, and I’m airing the blankets ready to put on the beds now that the nights are cool again.
Osso Buco is a cut of meat ; traditionally cross-cut veal shanks that expose the marrow bone. The meat is best cooked slowly, and the bone marrow and cartilage from the osso buco will create a velvety sauce with all the benefits of bone broth.
I’ve diverged from my traditional osso buco with a few simple ingredients that bring an earthy rich sweetness to this humble but classic dish. The beetroot really makes this recipe.
6 pieces of osso buco, 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee, 2 stalks of celery, 2 large carrots, 1 large beetroot, 1 large onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of fresh tomato (or one can of diced tomatoes), 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 cups of good quality chicken or veal stock, 1 tablespoon of cornflour (cornstarch), 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine (or use stock instead), 2 tablespoons of Davidsons Plum jam or your favourite ‘tart-sweet’ jam such as rosella, cranberry or cherry, salt and pepper. (The jam is optional but it really does give this dish a little something extra!)
Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit). If you’re using a slow cooker, put this on to warm up.
Place a tablespoon of oil into a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a medium heat. Lightly pan fry the meat in batches until brown. Then place the meat into a large baking dish. Don’t wipe the fat out of the frying pan. You’ll be needing it again in a minute.
Now chop all of your vegetables and the parsley. Top and tail the beetroot and then peel before cutting. Crush or finely chop your garlic. Keep the tomatoes aside for later.
Add the chopped vegetables into the frying pan, and stir over moderate heat for a few minutes until the vegetables soften and brown slightly. The beetroot will stain things pink, but that’s okay.
Now add your chopped tomatoes and the rosemary. Stir for another few minutes over medium heat and then pour in the wine. Keep stirring every so often. Let the tomatoes soften slightly (if using fresh ones).
Finally, take some of the stock and mix in the cornflour until it makes a smooth milky paste. Tip into the pan to thicken your mixture and then add in the tomato paste, stock, and jam. Give this all a good grind of black pepper and a little salt to taste. It should taste GOOD!
Carefully tip the beetroot mixture over the meat, making sure that everything is well covered.
Cover with a lid, or place some baking paper on top, followed by a ‘lid’ of aluminium foil tucked in around the sides. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 150 degrees celcius if fanforced (300 degrees fahrenheit) or 160 degrees celcius (320 degrees fahrenheit) if not. Cook for a further 2 hours and thirty minutes.
If using a slow cooker, cook for 3 to 5 hours, testing after 3. The meat should fall easily off the bone and be soft and silky.
Serve on its own, or on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with some fresh seasonal vegetables. Make sure to ladle plenty of the gravy over the meat. That’s the best bit!
As you can see from the picture below I served ours with mashed Nicola potatoes and some pan-fried fresh green beans and sweet cherry tomatoes with a little garlic and olive oil to dress them.
And it was YUM!!! 🙂