Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Endless Osso Bucco

I had guests visiting for several days, and we all went to one of my favorite local restaurants, Arriverderci. This place has been busy ever since they opened in 1995, and I discovered them about 4 months after they opened, right after I got back from a trip to Italy. At that time there were 2 owners, Tony and Franco. Tony is Roman, and Franco is Sicilian. Perhaps this explains the breakup - I don't know. (I do know that it's a miracle that they ever unified Italy - on the map, at least!) At any rate, Franco left town and Tony now has expanded his empire to include at least 4 other restaurants, with 2 more on the way. His formula is simple: offer terrific food in generous portions at very reasonable prices. Who could complain?

One of my friends ordered the osso bucco, which came on a bed of risotto with porcini mushrooms. The huge portion which arrived was enough to feed the Turkish army! She ate to her heart's content, and brought home the leftovers. The next day we had a lunch of leftovers - I ate my leftover curry from Bombay (my favorite Indian restaurant), and she had her osso bucco. When we were done, she put the rest of it back in it's container, and we put it in the fridge.

Having indulged myself for a week on restaurant food, I was ready to get back to my kitchen. You know how sometimes an ingredient will come to you, and you start searching for ways of cooking it? Well, for me it was garbanzos this time. I wanted to create a vegetarian meal that was hearty. Garbanzos kept coming up as the way to go. Look in the pantry. Yep. Got 'em. Also had a little couscous. OK - that works. What else? Onions and garlic, of course. Need a little color here. How about some parsley? Yes, and I have it in the fridge, too. Well, I'm getting a direction going here - clearly I'm in Claudia Roden territory, so I look there. Nothing that really speaks to me, but mint seems to leap off a few pages, and I have it growing in the garden, so why not? And lemon juice shows up as well -- I've got one of those in the fridge, too.

So as you've probably guessed by now, I don't have amounts of ingredients to give. As usual, I started with garlic and onions. About 2 cloves minced and I probably had 3/4 of a yellow onion. While sauteeing them, I boiled water for the couscous, and heated the leftover osso bucco in the micro. (Still don't have a couscousiere.....sigh!) Pour the water over the couscous and cover and continue to sautee the onions and garlic until the onions are golden. Add some cumin and ground coriander and stir. Since I was using canned garbanzos, I drained them and put them into the pan with the sauteed vegetables and stirred until they were heated. Turn off heat. Fluff the couscous with a fork and add the sauteed ingredients. I have a habit of using my scissors and cutting the parsley directly into the dish. I'm guessing it was about a couple of tablespoons. I added the mint at this point as well, and the heated osso bucco slices.

Yes, I know I said vegetarian meal.......but I made enough to last past the osso bucco stage. Stay tuned for the next chapter.....

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6 comments:

Patricia Scarpin said...

Delicious, Toni!
João would eat the osso buco and I would gladly eat the other half of the dish. ;)

Terry B said...

Reading this post this close to lunch? Not good. Sounds wonderful, Toni--looks beautiful too. And thank you for the idea of incorporating couscous into a dish. I always use it as a separate side, with maybe some parsley or garlic or basil. This is much more interesting.

Toni said...

Patricia - stay tuned....I turned the rest of it into a meal which I LOVED!

Terry - Yes, I usually use couscous as a side dish. But sometimes I just like to get creative...

ann said...

mmmm... mint and lemon. Delicious! And Claudia Roden to boot. I wish I had been there to sup with you, it sounds lovely!

Terry B said...

You inspired me, Toni. I made a version of this tonight. In addition to two garlic cloves and an onion, I diced a jalapeño pepper [kept the ribs in half of it for the heat]. Then I added a teaspoon of cumin and, at the end, some chopped fresh cilantro. Spicy and delicious! Thanks!

Toni said...

Ann - yes, mint and lemon perks up just about everything!

Terry - I'm HONORED! Love the addition of jalapeno and cumin - absolutely yes! I probably would have added cilantro if I had it, but it was parsley in the fridge this time.