J and I have always loved cooking with each other. Well, in the early days of our relationship we enjoyed baking more so than cooking because, at that time, I did not enjoy spending an hour making dinner. And when I say baking, I really mean going to the grocery store to pick up milk and Nestle break-away cookies so we could bake them while we watched Spartacus at his apartment.
Overtime, we've both grown to enjoy cooking and working together to create something we both enjoy. We registered for a couple of newlywed cookbooks (see below) and have been loving all the meals coming out of them, so far. However, we had yet to actually cook one together.
A couple of weekends ago that changed. We decided it was time to have an at-home date night and cook a complex, romantic meal out of one of these books.
The chosen meal: Osso Buco with Saffron Milanese. I've only ever seen my dad eat Osso Buco in nice Italian restaurants so I knew this meal was on a higher caliber than our typical pesto pasta.
It took a while to prep and cook, but it was well worth it. It was a Friday night, wine and whiskey was a flowin' and music was playing. In other words, we were having our own little party and loving every second.
Since this was a special occasion, we busted out the nice china dishes and set the table for two.
Ingredients for Osso Buco:
- 4 center-cut veal shanks
- 3/4 cups of flour
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp of pepper
- 5 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 small to medium ribs of celery, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 cups of white wine
- 1 cup of diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tsp of orange zest (I didn't add orange zest to my recipe.)
- 1 small sprig of rosemary
Steps for Osso Buco:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour with 1/2 tsp of salt and the pepper and spread on a plate. Dredge the veal shanks in the mixture, turning them to coat evenly.
2. In a large, oven-proof sauté pan (you'll need one with a tight fitting lid) heat 3 Tbsps of olive oil. I used my Dutch oven that fit the two shanks perfectly, without overcrowding.
3. When the oil is hot, place the veal in the pan and brown evenly, about 3 minutes on each side. Then, transfer the shanks to a plate.
4. Add and heat the remaining 2 Tbsps of oil. Then, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion is golden, about 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to loosen any caramelized bits at the bottom. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, orange zest, thyme, and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
6. Return the veal shanks to the pan. The tomato mixture should come about two-thirds of the way up the shanks. Ours didn't, so we added a bit more chicken stock.
7. Cover the pan with the lid and place in the oven for 2 hours, turning them every 30 minutes to ensure that they cook evenly. Add extra stock or water if the liquid in the pan gets too low or too thick.
8. Remove from oven and place the shanks on a serving platter. Discard the bay leaves from the pan, and then place the pan over medium heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced to a sauce-like consistency. It should take around 10 minutes.
Ingredients for Risotto Milanese:
- 3/4 tsp loosely packed saffron threads
- 5 Tbsps of butter, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 8 cups of chicken stock
- 1 3/4 cups of Arborio rice. (I love using RiceSelect's rice).
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Steps for Risotto Milanese:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the saffron in a small baking dish and toast for 3 minutes. (We didn't do this step because our oven was occupied with the veal.)
2. Melt 4 Tbsps of butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the onions, cover, and cook, uncovering to stir often, until the onion is soft, not brown.
3. Meanwhile, crumble the saffron into the stock and bring to a boil in a large saucepan. Once it reaches a full boil, turn off the heat.
4. Add the rice and remaining saffron to the onion and stir to coat. Stirring constantly, add 1 cup of stock. Season with the salt and continue stirring. Add a ladleful of stock and stir until it's absorbed. Repeat this process, adding the stock until the rice is creamy but not al dente, about 20 minutes.
5. Stir in the remaining butter and taste. Adjust with salt, if necessary. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and serve.
We spent half of the time "high five-ing" each other across the table as we ate. We've decided that we have to make this meal for our family and friends soon because this is definitely a show-stopper.
Have you had an at-home date night with your significant other recently? I'd love to hear other ideas of great stay-at-home date activities.