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Slow Cooker Ossobuco

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Fall off the bone slow cooker ossobuco, a classic Italian dish adapted for the slow cooker. Served with gremolata and risotto Milanese.

Tender meat and a rich tomato sauce, this ossobuco in the slow cooker is amazing! Slowly braised chunks of meat, cooked for hours in that flavorful sauce and its own melting marrow, there is hardly a richer, more luxurious meat dish I can think of right now.

And if you like slow cooking tender meat, check these Slow Cooked Pork Hocks, the Lamb Shoulder, or the Pork Belly in the Slow Cooker.

slow cooked osso buco with yellow risotto served in tomato sauce.

What is osso buco?

Osso buco or ossobuco is one of the best-known Italian dishes. Always present on the menus of any serious Italian restaurant, ossobuco has a reputation of being incredibly rich, incredibly delicious, but also quite difficult to make.

The parts about its being rich and delicious are perfectly true, but I don’t agree about having any problems with cooking this dish at home. I’ve cooked a classic ossobuco on the stove many times before and I didn’t find it particularly challenging. Making slow cooker ossobuco is even easier. Just prepare a few things on the stovetop, place everything in the cooker and let it do its magic.

So, what is ossobuo? The translation would be “bone with a hole”, referring to the piece of shank with the bone and its marrow in the center. The pieces of veal are slowly cooked in sauce, the marrow releases its flavor during cooking.

The dish is a specialty of the Lombard cuisine and it is usually served with another regional classic – the risotto Milanese which is made with saffron. And with gremolata, a zesty mixture of parsley and garlic which cuts very nicely through the richness of the dish.

slice of veal shank slow cooked in tomato sauce on a plate with a spoon.

What cut to use for ossobuco?

Ossobuco can be made with beef or veal shank, but the veal version is considered superior, the meat is tenderer thus easier to cook, the taste is somewhat sweet and delicate. The plus point of using beef is that beef has a stronger flavor. I’ve tried both versions over the years, I love them both.

I had veal this time. Buying veal is generally not an easy task, you would have to go to butchers that actually sell it and when you need something as special as shanks you might even have to order them in advance.

The slices are cut from the rear or front muscle of the upper leg. The best osso buchi are those cut from the middle of the leg, they are larger, they have the most marrow and the ratio of meat and connective tissue is proportional, making these cuts particularly tender and succulent.

It is considered better to use the cuts from the rear legs of the animal for making ossobuco and to use the front leg pieces for making soups.

small plates with osso buco served with sauce and risotto milanese. small plate of gremolata beside.

What do you need?

Meat:

  • Four thick slices of veal osso buco, cross-cut slices of the shank with marrow bone in the middle.
  • The recipe can be cooked with beef shanks as well.
four slices of veal shank on a cutting board, one of them floured.

Vegetables:

  • Carrots, onion, garlic, celeriac, or celery stalks. I use celeriac because it is more common in Germany, but celery stalks are fine as well.
stock, diced vegetables, canned tomatoes, red wine, tomato paste. all in small containers arranged on the table.

Liquids:

  • Beef or veal stock. Make sure it is either homemade or low sodium. Regular stock with too much salt would make the dish too salty.
  • Red wine

Other ingredients: flour, olive oil, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Gremolata: garlic, fresh parsley, anchovy fillets, zest of 1 lemon.

osso buco with risotto milanese and gremolata on a plate.

How to make slow cooked osso buco?

  • Prepare the meat. Dry it with kitchen paper, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and dredge it lightly through flour. Pat it over the sink to remove the excess flour.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the meat on both sides. Remove from the skillet.

Tip:

The meat will fall off the bone by the end of the cooking process. It is the way it’s supposed to be. However, if you want the meat to stay on the bone you can tie it with string. Not my favorite task though, I did it this time for presentation purposes, but I leave it be otherwise.

collage of two pictures of four floured slices of osso buco frying in a black pan.
  • While the meat browns, finely chop the onion and the garlic. Dice the carrots and celeriac or celery.
  • Cook the vegetables in the same skillet for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
cooking diced carrots, celeriac, onions in a black pan.
  • Add tomato paste, stir well for 1 minute.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, stock, and wine, stir well, bring to a boil, cook for about 3 minutes. Adjust the taste with some salt and pepper.
  • Pour the sauce into the pot of the slow cooker. (1)
  • Add the meat and cover it with the sauce. (2)
  • Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. (3)
  • The cooking time depends on the type of slow cooker you have. Make sure you read its instructions.
  • Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and a little vinegar to lift the flavors.
collage of three pictures of cooking veal shanks in a slow cooker.

Gremolata:

  • Make the gremolata about half an hour before serving the slow cooker ossobuco.
  • Finely chop the parsley and the anchovies. Grate the garlic and zest the lemon. Mix everything in a small bowl.

How to serve?

Serve immediately or reheated with risotto Milanese and gremolata.

Other delicious side dishes would be polenta (always my number one choice), either a simple polenta or one mixed with fresh chopped herbs or enriched with a little Parmesan. Mashed potatoes are always great as well. Plain rice is fine as well if you don’t want to make risotto.

Make in advance and leftovers

You can cook osso buco in advance and reheat it before serving. The leftovers keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat well on the stovetop before serving.

fall off the bone veal shank in sauce close up on a plate.

More Italian meat dishes:

osso buco with risotto milanese and gremolata on a plate.

Slow Cooker Ossobuco

Fall off the bone slow cooker ossobuco, a classic Italian dish adapted for the slow cooker. Served with gremolata and risotto Milanese.
4.25 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beef, Pork and Lamb
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 889kcal
Author: Adina

Ingredients 

  • Ossobuco:
  • 4 thick slices of veal osso buco total weight of about 1,4 kg/3 lbs., about 2.5-3 cm/ 1-1.2 inches thick
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 carrots small to medium
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • small piece of celeriac or 2 celery stalks
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock homemade or low sodium
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar to taste
  • fine sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Gremolata:
  • small bunch of parsley 3 tablespoons when chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

Ossobuco:

  • Flour meat: Dry the meat with kitchen paper, sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and dredge the beef lightly through it. Pat it over the sink to remove the excess flour.
  • Brown meat: Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the meat on both sides. Remove from the skillet. (Note 1).
  • Saute vegetables: Finely chop the onion and the garlic. Dice the carrots and celeriac or celery. Cook the vegetables on low heat in the same skillet for about 5-7 minutes until softened.
  • Make the sauce: Add tomato paste, stir well for 1 minute. Add canned tomatoes, stock, and wine, stir well, bring to a boil, cook for about 3 minutes. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
  • Fill the slow cooker: Pour the sauce into the pot of the slow cooker. Add the meat and cover it with the sauce. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours (Note 2).
  • Serve: Gently remove the meat from the pot. Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and a little vinegar. Transfer the sauce to a warm serving bowl and place the meat on top.

Gremolata:

  • Make the gremolata about half an hour before serving the slow cooker ossobuco.
  • Mix: Finely chop the parsley and the anchovies. Grate the garlic and zest the lemon. Mix everything in a small bowl.
  • Spoon on top of the ossobuco on the plate.

Notes

  1. The meat will fall off the bone by the end of the cooking process. It is the way it’s supposed to be. However, if you want the meat to stay on the bone you can tie it with string.
  2. The cooking time depends on the type of slow cooker you have. Make sure you read its instructions. When ready the meat should be fall-off-the-bone tender.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the dish | Calories: 889kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 121g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 456mg | Sodium: 1086mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g
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