Ossobuco alla milanese

This recipe IS Milano. It’s the most iconic recipe of the city and while it is hard to date the origins of it, there are some references of this dish in some books of the XIX century but the first true evidence goes back to 1879, in one of the first cookbooks published in Italy (Giuseppe Sorbiatti, Il memoriale della cuoca).
What we can say about this dish is that it certainly passed the test of time, as it still is the most popular recipe in Milan. Its best pairing is with Risotto alla Milanese, a saffron risotto also extremely typical in my beautiful city. 

This recipe is extremely simple as it doesn’t require any hard technique and it’s one of those recipes you can forget on the stove. The meat turns super soft and flavorful, it’s incredible! So babe, you really can’t fuck this one up. 

There is also a version that requires tomatoes but it’s not as antique as this one because this fruit was introduced in Italian cuisine only in the XVIII century. This is a complete side note, but how funny is it to think that we Italians used tomatoes as a décor? And today this is the most common ingredient in Italian recipes.

Well, now let’s get to the recipe. 

Ossobuco alla milanese

Nicole Vittoria
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Secondi
Servings 4


  • 4 veal shanks
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 50 gr butter
  • 500 ml meat broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 glass of white wine (a good one!)
  • 1 lemon
  • parsley
  • garlic
  • a pinch of Italian accent and grammatical errors for extra flavor


  • Make a few cuts around the outside edges of the veal shank to avoid them curling while cooking. Click for video reference.
  • In a pan melt the butter and sauté the finely chopped onions until they turn translucent. 
  • Dredge the veal shanks with all-purpose flour and brown them on both sides; keep the fire on medium-low so you won’t burn the onions. 
  • When browned on both sides, add the glass of white wine – always choose a good one, we do not advocate for bland flavors here babe! – and let it simmer. When you won’t smell any alcohol from the pan, add the meat, cover it, and cook for 1h30 minutes. 
  • Shortly before the end of the cooking time, prepare the Gremolada, the part that will give the aromatic complexity to the dish.
    Simply mince a clove of garlic, a handful of parsley, and the zest of one lemon. When the ossobuchi will be finished, garnish them with this delicious concoction. The heat of the dish will release all the hidden perfumes of these ingredients and tremendously enhance the aroma of the sauce.


I like to think that this recipe has a feminist connotation to it. Remember how in the introduction I mentioned Giuseppe Sorbiatti and his cookbook Il memoriale della cuoca (1879)? He was a well-known cook among the aristocrats and he wrote this book for the housewives, thus le regiure, the figure that would reggere (hold), the family. I can’t be in his mind but while I was reading about this, I liked the thought that he was silently advocating for a form of matriarchy. Throughout history women have been kept behind the curtains, even in the kitchen. The important chefs have mainly been male, but somehow we were (still are?) expected to be in the kitchen to nurture the family. Never in the front line. So thank you Giuseppe for at least acknowledging that even if behind the curtains, we are as capable and strong as men. 

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