Four 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces veal shank, about 12 oz each
2 TBSP flour
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 cup White Veal Stock*
2 blood oranges
1 large fennel bulb with leaves
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 2 x 3/4 inch batons
1 cup blood orange juice (from about 3 oranges)
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
*My substitution for this was 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1/2 cup beef stock, 4 TBSP veal demi-glace, all warmed in a small sauce pan to get a smooth texture.
Preheat the oven to 325. Pat the veal dry. With shears, cut completely through the membrane surrounding each veal shank in two places to prevent the meat from curling as it cooks. Ties a piece of butcher's twine around each shank to hold the meat in place while it is cooking. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal shanks in the flour, shaking off the excess.
In a large Dutch oven or flame-proof casserole, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the veal and brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate. Discard the fat from the pot, and pour in the vinegar and stock. Bring to a boil, deglazing the pot. Remove the pot from the heat.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest in long strips from 1 orange and add to the pot; reserve the orange. Return the veal shanks to the pot, with the wider end of the bone facing up (to keep the marrow from escaping). Cover with a damp piece of parchment paper, then the lid, and braise in the oven for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the feathery leaves from the fennel, set aside. Trim any coarse stalks or outside layers. Cut the fennel lengthwise in half, then cut into 1/4 inch slices.
After the veal has cooked for 45 minutes, add the fennel, carrots, orange juice, and 1 tsp salt. Cook, covered, with the paper and lid, for another 45 to 55 minutes, or until the veal is very tender and the vegetables are cooked. Transfer the veal, fennel and carrots to a serving platter. Remove the strings from the veal and keep warm, loosely-covered with aluminum foil.
Discard the orange peel from the pot and bring the cooking juices to a boil; boil hard for 5 minutes to reduce. Grate the zest of the remaining orange and place it in a small bowl with the fennel seeds. Remove the pith from the two zested oranges and cut them into segments. Add the segments to the sauce and check the seasoning. Keep warm.
To make the gremolata, finely chop the reserved fennel leaves. Add the fennel leaves and garlic to the zest and fennel seed and mix. Serve the veal and vegetables with the sauce spooned over and pass the orange gremolata separately.
Notes: As with many New Year's dinners, I wanted to choose something I hadn't attempted before. These veal shanks came pre-cut at Cato Corner Farm. I'm a devotee of their cheese and on a recent visit noted they were also offering various cuts of veal.
This is a variation on the usual osso buco. Traditional gremolata is parsley, garlic, and lemon. The blood orange and fennel variation had a bright flavor and also incorporated the fennel greens. Overall, the citrus was perhaps a touch too pronounced here giving it a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. But the veal was tender and the vegetables still had some bite to them. The bone marrow was a luscious treat.
Served with Val de la Pierre Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2008, decanted.