I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of slow cooker stews because I think they get too watery — but sometimes, like now, when we’re packing and traveling and generally FREAKING OUT IN A GOOD WAY about moving to Vermont, it’s nice to just toss some quality ingredients in the slow cooker and let it do its thing. I’m happy to report that a short simmer, uncovered in a stew pot, when this stew is finished cooking renders it thick and luscious. Yay for slow cooker hacks!
Based on the Milanese dish osso buco, this Slow Cooker Osso Buco stew is what I like to think of as “quietly Italian.” Unlike a basil-and-tomato based dish with bold flavors that punch you in the face like the Godfather, this stew is gentle, subtle, and smooth. It’s traditionally made with veal shanks, white wine, vegetables, herbs, and a little tomato. This version substitutes cubes of stew meat — and if you’d like, you can use beef instead of veal — but don’t skip the lemon zest and parsley as garnish!
Slow Cooker Osso Buco Stew
Serves 4-6 | Prep 35 min | Cook 4-6 or 8-10 hours | Whole30 compliant (see ingredient swap)
2 pounds boneless veal (or beef) stew meat, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon fat (ghee, coconut oil, etc.)
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch coins
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tomatoes, cut into 1-inch dice
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup white wine (Whole30 compliant: Replace wine w/ another 3/4 cup broth.)
garnish: minced fresh parsley, lemon zest
1. Place meat in a large ziplock bag. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper, and arrowroot with a fork. Add the arrowroot to the bag and shake around the contents until the meat is evenly coated.
2. Heat a large, non-stick skillet, then add the fat. When it’s melted, add the meat and cook until it’s browned on all sides, about 5-6 minutes. You might need to do this in batches. As the meat cooks, remove it from the pan and place in the slow cooker.
3. If the pan is dry, add a little more fat, then toss in the onion, carrot, and garlic. Sauté until golden and soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to combine and cook until the tomatoes soften, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
4. Add the broth and wine to the slow cooker, cover, and cook until everything is tender: 4-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
5. Discard bay leaves and ladle the osso buco stew into bowls. Top with minced parsley and lemon zest. You could also add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil for extra lusciousness. NOTE: If you like your stews a little thicker, like I do, you can simmer the stew uncovered in a soup pot for 10 minutes or so before serving. It also tastes amazingly good on days 2 and 3, so you might want to make it in advance of eating — and it freezes/defrosts like a champ.
No slow cooker? No problem. Follow all the instructions as above, but use a soup/stew pot in step #2. Then instead of transferring all the ingredients to the slow cooker, cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours. Remove the lid and simmer 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
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