We had very much enjoyed the Osso-Bucco we made on the Big Green Egg last year (see here) so when we came across some Red Deer shin cut in the same way as veal for Osso-Bucco it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. The pieces were smaller than when using veal but that would give the advantage of hopefully more marrow being released into the sauce when the meat was braised. As the venison was likely to be a little more robust than the veal, the sauce was made with a little more tomato and a combination of Bay, Thyme and Oregano to match the richness, so a further step away from the Milanese original but exciting because of that!
The venison was no thicker than the veal we used last time but the diameter of the pieces was less. I did wonder if we could dispense with the butchers string tied round each piece to preserve the meat intact, but in the end we decided to tie the pieces anyway These were then lightly floured and seasoned, then gently caramelised in butter in the Dutch oven to intensify their flavour. They were then set to one side.
A little more butter was then added to the pan and the onions were sautéd to slightly soften, then the carrots and celery were added and lightly cooked. At this point we added 4 garlic cloves, the zest of 1.5 lemons, 2 Bay leaves, some dried Thyme and Oregano and cooked for a few minutes more. There is no place for mushrooms in an authentic Osso-Bucco – but they had worked well for us last time and seemed even more appropriate with venison, so these were added together with whole and halved stuffed green olives that we had to hand!. We also added 2 cans of chopped tomatoes to add further richness to the sauce. Then all that was needed was to add the white wine. The heat was turned up to begin to concentrate the sauce.
After about 10 minutes the meat was tucked in between the vegetable mix and the dutch oven was moved out of the kitchen and onto the Big Green Egg. This had been set up for indirect cooking at around 120C. Once gently bubbling, hot chicken stock was added. The pot was allowed to simmer in the closed EGG without its lid. As we have said previously cooking without the lid on the Dutch oven works well in the EGG as the EGG naturally retains moisture in the food being cooked so the pan does not tend to dry out, but the absence of the lid allowed the whole dish to pick up some very gentle ‘smoky tones’ from the charcoal. This time we also added a little Chestnut wood to the fire to add further gentle smoky overtones .
The pot was then cooked very gently for around 3hrs making sure the meat was kept moist by the surrounding sauce.
An occasional gentle stir allowed us to make sure the venison remained below the surface of the liquid and let us keep an eye on the cooking process.
As the dish cooked it took on a wonderfully unctuous character as the sauce became richer and looked to be a good match for the venison. The venison softened but held together well. The meat was removed from the sauce, covered with foil and set aside in a warm spot whilst the sauce was finished. Sometimes, at this point it is worth adding a suspension of cornflour in cold water if the sauce is a little runny and just a fresh sprinkle of herbs in the last few minutes of cooking. The sauce was finished by adding a few dots of butter and stirring. The string was removed from the meat before serving with the sauce. It works really well with plain rice though my favourite is with some crispy roast potatoes and broccoli or a root vegetable. This is a delicious dish and the sauce with the enriched bone marrow is delightful, but it does have one downside and that is we are yet to find a delicate way of plating it!. This has been the same with the Veal Osso-Bucco that we made earlier and with this Venison version too. I think if we could find a supplier with whole shin we would get them cut at around 4cm thick. I think they would then hold their shape a little more easily and that would make plating easier too.
A note for next time – with the size of our dutch oven there was perhaps a little too much meat to manage easily – so next time perhaps reduce the volumes a little!!
Red Deer Osso-Bucco
Osso-Bucco made with Red Deer Venison in a rich tomato enriched sauce
- 2.1 kg of Shin Venison
- Length of butchers string to tie round each piece of meat
- Seasoned flour
- Knob of butter
- 3 large Onions finely diced
- 2 Large carrot finely diced
- 6 sticks of celery finely diced
- 4 large garlic cloves whole
- Lemon zest
- Bay leaf
- Dried Thyme
- Dried Oregano
- 2 Glasses of white wine
- Chicken stock/2 chicken stockpots
- 2 Large cans of chopped tomatoes / fresh tomatoes
- Handful of whole and halved stuffed green olives (optional)
- Chestnut mushrooms (optional)
- Step 1 Tie some butchers string around the circumference of the meat to hold it together whilst cooking. Lightly dust with seasoned flour and caramelise in butter in the Dutch oven. Then set to one side.
- Step 2 Add a little more butter to the pan and sauté the onions to slightly soften. Then add the the carrots and celery and cook lightly.
- Step 3 To this gently cooking mixture add the whole garlic cloves, the lemon zest, a bay leaf and some sage and cook for a few minutes more. Add the sliced chestnut mushrooms, olives and together with a can of chopped tomatoes bring back to the simmer.
- Step 4 Add the white wine and turn up the heat to begin to concentrate the sauce. After about 10 minutes tuck the meat back into the vegetable mix and put the dutch oven into the Big Green Egg set up for indirect cooking at around 120C. Once gently bubbling, add the hot chicken stock (or stockpot) and leave to simmer without the Dutch oven lid, in the closed EGG.
- Step 5 Cook very gently for around 3hrs making sure the meat is kept moist by the surrounding sauce. Gently stir the sauce occasionally without disturbing the meat too much.
- Step 6 If the sauce requires any thickening do so with a little cornflour premixed in some cold water and finish off the sauce by adding a few dots of butter and stirring it in once the meat has been removed.
- Step 7 Remember to snip off the string used to hold the meat together before serving.