Slow Days: Ossobuco

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Italian cuisine runs the gamut from plain to complex, from North to South, from pasta dishes to pasta-less dishes. In the North, the Piedmont Region has foods that one never finds in the southern part of the country: beef in plenty, cheese from water buffaloes, rice, butter, corn, and fewer tomatoes. One famous dish from Milano in the Piedmont is Ossobuco. The word means ‘bone with a mouth’ since the meat in the meal is slices of veal shank with a hollow bone in the center — the bone with a mouth. As we get into the cooler weather and past Saint Martin’s Day [when the farm animals were slaughtered], our thoughts turn to eating rich, flavorful stews or heavier pasta dishes. Enter Ossobuco. Perhaps the most difficult part of the recipe is finding the veal, since veal has justly fallen into disrepute due to the sad way that the veal calves have been raised. Our veal comes from D’artagnan, an online source of many meats, and it is raised humanely in France. That solved, preparing Ossobuco is not a complex process. Our recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazen’s excellent Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

6-8 ServingsLarge covered Dutch oven or 16” cast iron pan with cover.Preheat oven to 350F
1 Tbsp vegetable oil + 1 Tbsp oil 4 veal shank slices, each 1½” thick white whole wheat flour, pepper, saltHeat oil in casserole over medium high heat until quite hot. Dry meat with paper towels and dredge in seasoned flour. Cook meat on both sides until ‘deeply browned.’  Depending on size of the casserole, you might do this in stages. Add more oil as needed. Put meat aside on a plate.
½ cup dry white wineAdd wine, cook down by half while scraping up brown bits. Pour it off and save it. 
1 Tbsp butter
½ c onion, chopped finely
½ c celery, chopped finely
½ c carrot, chopped finely
Put butter into casserole over medium heat on stove top. When melted, add vegetables. Cook, stirring a bit, 6-7 minutes to form the soffrittoIn Italy, they call it soffritto, in France it is mirepoix.
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 strip of lemon peel, no white pith
Add these, cook and stir ~1 minute, until vegetables are wilted but not brown.
Put veal atop the soffritto, laying the pieces flat if possible, or overlapping them slightly.
½-1 cup homemade meat broth
1 c canned Italian plum tomatoes with juice 3-4 sprigs of thyme
2-3 sprigs parsley, chopped 2 bay leaves freshly ground pepper + salt
Chop tomatoes and parsley. Put all of these into the casserole, along with remaining deglazing liquid. Liquids should come up to top of the veal slices, but not cover them. Bring to a simmer and cover. Put casserole in the heated oven and set a timer for 2 hours.
Every 20 mins, check the cassserole. Turn and baste shanks, adding more liquid, 2 Tbsp at a time, if needed.
When meat is very tender, take casserole from oven. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. If sauce is too thin, cook it down on the stove-top.
Now for the heresy! Remove meat shanks and slice meat, saving the marrow bone. Add slices back to the sauce, stirring them in. Nestle marrow bones in the center of the pot, standing on end.

For a vegetable course, we prepared an antipasto plate of vegetables marinated in Italian Vinaigrette. For bread, no-knead focaccia, sliced for ease of serving.

Fresh, hand-cut pasta, 5 oz per person drizzle olive oilCook pasta 1-3 minutes until al dente. Drain, adding some water to sauce. Drizzle pasta with a bit of oil.
focacciaPresent casserole and pasta separately, allowing diners to serve themselves and to take one of the marrow bones if they like. Serve with slices of focaccia loaf.

One could serve risotto or polenta, to be in keeping with Northern Italian cuisine, but we opted for fresh pasta which is more typical in the North than the South. For dessert, panna cotta with fruit coulis.

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