I was having such a good time I documented the process more than usual. For example, I took a picture of the assembled ingredients:
I did it because I just liked the look of the basil plant with the bread and my cool purple flowering tree outside.
I also got a shot of the browned veal, before I set it to braise:
This one I took because I thought the veal looked amazing at this point and I was afraid I was sure to fuck it up some time in the next three hours, so I thought I had better get some evidence that it had looked good at one time. My meat comparison shopping really paid off here, because these chops were fantastic. I could tell from the minute I took them out of the brown paper that I had some nice cuts of meat on my hands. I also learned during my meat comparison shopping that Wegman's (local nice grocery store) will do special cut orders for you if you call them a mere 3 days in advance! So next time I could actually get a shank, if I so desired (although I loved the chop, so I'm not sure I would bother.)
There were some appetizers before the main event:
I believe that the highlight of the cheese plate is the habanero cheddar to the right. I think it actually has habaneros in it! Anyway, it is very hot. Not as hot as my spicy asian soups, but quite hot for a dairy product. The sausage was an impulse buy-- they were sampling it when I went shopping for the cheeses so I grabbed a stick, but I don't think I'd buy it again. The gimmick with this sausage is that it is pinot grigio cured, but I felt that the wine curing gave it a kind of weird sour chemical taste that didn't do it for me in a sausage, which in my book should be Salty, Fatty, and Hot, in that order.
I also served some dates with goat cheese, basil, and prosciutto:
The main event was the osso bucco, served with risotto milanese (a saffron risotto preparation):
Although I made risotto like every weekend last winter, there were several firsts for me with this one. I had never worked with saffron before, and I also had never made a risotto with tomato broth. I was informed by the internet, and by james beard, that when serving a risotto with osso bucco, it should be prepared ala milanese (which as far as I can tell just means a simple preparation with saffron), and using hot tomato juice instead of chicken broth to cook the rice. I think that I did NOT like the saffron, but I did like the tomato broth. Saffron is WAY TO EXPENSIVE to taste like that! I was expecting a total expensive party in my mouth but I think it basically tasted like the tomato juice had been sitting out too long and had gone bad. I don't think I'll be buying any $1 / thread saffron again in the forseeable future.
I loved the tomato juice spin though. I usually love to serve risotto with a ton of parmesan cheese, and I felt like the tomato juice both changed it up a little from the normal broth risottos I make and also went quite nicely with the parmesan. I would make it like this again-- maybe adding some hot italian sausage if I were going to do it as a Frozen Cube Lunch.
The osso bucco.... it was amazing. The meat literally did fall off the bone! It was so soft. I guess it should be, since it basted in its own juices for 3 hours on ultra low heat. I don't even know how to describe it. The fact that it was veal instead of beef gave it just a hint of pungency that set it far apart from a beef stew. I served it with some carrots, onions, and potatoes that had been soaking up the fat and gravy in the braising pan for three hours, and they were some of the best vegetables ever, probably because they were about 2/3 vegetable and 1/3 beef fat. That's the way to eat a vegetable!
I am seriously considering osso bucco for spitesgiving dinner. It is so delicious, but very easy to make and has the huge advantage of making the house smell like braising veal for hours on end. AND we could actually have 3 roasted meats this way because the veal braises on the stovetop, which would leave 2 ovens available for roasting other meats.
I'll definitely make this again, it's too easy and good not to. It's like "serve this for christmas dinner" level good. I'm just sad I only made 3 chops (for 3 people.) Although, 4 probably wouldn't have fit in my dutch oven.