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Bone with a Hole. Osso Buco actually...

Gordo cuts to the bone revealing a shin with no Achilles' heel

Written by . Published on May 17th 2010.

Bone with a Hole. Osso Buco actually...

Osso Buco, the Italian veal shin stew, appears to have as many arguments going on about it over in Rome as does Lancashire Hotpot here in God’s own Country. Essentially it's a stew made with milk-fed veal shins, sliced into thick discs across the bone, with the rich marrow ready for action, scooped out at the end of cooking with a spoon and mixed with the Milanese, a risotto made with pancetta and saffron. To be truly Italian, the pancetta should be substituted with small cubes of chopped bone marrow. When cooked with love, Osso Buco alla Milanese is a world class dish. It is finished off with a sprinkle of Italian stardust, gremolata, three minutes before the casserole comes away from the heat. More of that later.

It always amazes Gordo that only one, maybe two Italian restaurants in the city can do this king of dishes here in Manchester.

Early bird dinners

The main arguments are about whether to use tomatoes or not, and if you do, how much. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, the TV Chef says no; Gordo has cooked his recipe a few times and loves it (The River Cottage Meat Book). For another point of view, Gordo went to talk to Franco Bellomusto, executive chef over the San Carlo group, owners of the phenomenon that is San Carlo, the Italian ‘marmite' restaurant next to Kendals.

Franco is a passionate, good looking feller whose training came from restaurants around La Scala in Milan. He moved to the UK over a decade ago “for luuuuurve”, and has been working with owner Carlos and his son Marcello for many years.“Maybe two teaspoons of chopped tomatoes per person”, says Franco, “any more will overpower the dish; the flavour of the veal must be lifted and seasoned by the gremolata in the last few minutes”.

Franco and Gordo

You need a good butcher to get the veal shins; Gordo uses Axon’s in Didsbury or Frosts in Chorlton. If you want to get something exotic from these guys, they will normally try their best. A tip from Gordo, order your requirements on a Tuesday; it gives them time to place their orders with the suppliers ready for the Friday delivery. You won’t be getting veal shins from the supermarket, that’s for sure.

Gremolata ingredients minus the parsleyOsso Buco alla Milanese at San Carlo

The key to this dish is long, slow cooking; the aim is to get the gelatinous proteins from the gristle around the bones to melt completely into the sauce, getting that unctuous feel on the palette. Two hours is an absolute minimum, Gordo does his for three on top of the stove in a cast iron pan. Anything more than a tremor will spoil it. He then lets it go cold, chills it in the fridge and serves it any time up to three days later, re-heated gently for thirty minutes. You will be able to cut it with a spoon.

Three minutes before the dish comes off the stove, the gremolata is sprinkled over and stirred in. Gremolata is equal quantities of crushed and chopped garlic, parsley and lemon zest. It lifts the dish beautifully, cutting through the richness of the finished silky sauce.

The Milanese risotto is served on the side; Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends creamy mashed potatoes with a pinch of saffron infused in the hot milk if for some reason you decide against the Milanese.

Joanna aka Gordo's minder and drinking pal

Franco gave Gordo a great tip; chop one anchovy per person into the gremolata. That little extra flavour acted as a final supercharger, making the dish served to Gordo and Schofield a couple of weeks ago one of the best this year.

The final little touch of magic is to scoop out the marrow and stir it into the Milanese. Heaven.

A gentle, light red wine partners well.

If you wish to try this dish, it’s on the menu at San Carlo; beware though, take an appetite with you. It’s a monster.

Veal shin

San Carlo
40-42 King Street West
M3 2WY

T: 0161 834 6226

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Stephen BestMay 17th 2010.

Jonanna looks the best dish on this article !

GordoMay 17th 2010.

<laughing> Joanna actually! slight speller there now rectified I hope... Hope you and the missus are well Steve.

NortherngeezerMay 17th 2010.

Good enuff to eat..............but i'm not saying which, hehehe.

Billy Joe McallisterMay 17th 2010.

Love this dish. Whats going on with Gordo? he seems to be losing weight, which isn't right with all he eats...

GordoMay 17th 2010.

We know thats not you, Billy Joe, you jumped off that Tallahatchee bridge a long time ago...

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