Do you know what today is?
It’s Best Friends Day!
Yes, there is indeed such a day that celebrates and honors that special person that fate threw in your path, and changed your life forever.
As it should be celebrated. A best friend is a soul mate. A life mate. A gift from the universe. Someone who sticks by you through thick and thin, through victory and defeat, through glorious first kisses and crappy boyfriends, through your first sip of a vodka tonic and holding your hair up whilst puking said vodka tonic. Through sneaking out, playing hooky, and getting tattoos. Through weddings, babies, and hitting 40.
And how do I know this? Because I am lucky enough to have one such person.
When I met K, in high school, a million years ago (29 years ago to be exact!), she seemed so different from me. She was athletic and strong and didn’t seem to be scared of a thing. She was confident about her ideas and her plans. In my eyes, she kicked ass.
I wasn’t really much of an ass-kicker. I was happy being happy. I wouldn’t say that I was completely a crowd-follower, but I certainly wasn’t a boat-rocker or a line-crosser. I was shy, although maybe I didn’t always seem that way (hello extroverted introverts!!).
Perhaps it was these differences that drew us together, but it was our similarities that kept us there.
(Although maybe our differences as well, as I can’t imagine her spending as much time as we have together with anyone who was as competitive as she is! Fyi, I have zero competitive bones in my body. Even playing Monopoly causes me pain.)
She was goofy and fun and loved to laugh. She was smart and we could talk for hours on end. She cared about the bigger things in life but also knew how to enjoy the little ones. She believed in things that were larger than us. She was kind and good and a defender of those who couldn’t defend themselves.
And those were all things I’d like to think I was too to some extent…or at least aspired to be.
Now we are old fogies that still laugh at the things only we laugh at. We still talk for hours on end about things both larger than ourselves and simple joys. She is still kind and good and a defender of those who can’t defend themselves. She is still just as competitive as I am not. I’m still not a boat-rocker, preferring to change the world in my own little ways, one home cook at a time. She’s authored her first book (yes, in my heart I know there are more to come!) and is already changing the world around her.
We are still the girls we used to be, but, also better. Through lessons we’ve learned in life, experience, time, travel, growing up.
But, through it all, still us…best friends.
(I think we definitely can hold our liquor better now though)
This post, and this recipe, is for her. This is my mom’s Osso Buco, which is one of K’s favorites. Which I made for her when she first moved away from home. Which you can see in this long-ago blog post (before SLR’s! excuse the photos!). I am reposting it here, as, I believe, it deserves a reposting, and in honor of my very best friend in the universe.
This dish is included in K’s book, Book of 40 (represented by a fabulous illustration by Justine Racho! I love it!). The book compiles 40 ideas inspired by K’s 40 years of life, represented in 40 creative collaborations. It is inspiring and thought-provoking and, as K has always done, deals with thoughts both larger than us (It’s important to find a place to meet God regularly), and issues closer to our regular lives (It’s important to learn about money). Things practical (To-do lists have power) and playful (Let your geek flag fly!). I assure you that there will be at the very least one thing here that will hit home hard (at the very least!).
So to celebrate Best Friends Day with all of you we will be giving away 5 copies of Book of 40 to 5 lucky readers! Details below…
But first…the recipe!
Beef Osso Buco
(heavily adapted from the Osso Buco in Better Homes and Gardens Italian Cook Book)
- Olive oil, for browning and sautéing (not extra virgin)
- 1.6 – 1.8 kilos bone-in beef shank (with marrow), cut meat into 2 – 2 ½ inch sections
- Approximately 1/2 kilo extra shank bone with marrow (I have the butcher saw them into 2 inch sections), optional
- 3 – 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 – 1 ½ cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1.2 kilos canned chopped/crushed tomatoes (I use one 800-gram can and one 400-gram can)
- 1 ½ cup water (wash out the tomato cans with this water)
- 1 ½ cup white wine
- Juice from 1 orange
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 2 bay leaves
- Sea salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil, for finishing
– Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, then dredge lightly in flour.
– Place a heavy bottomed pot (a Dutch oven would be great if you have one) over medium high heat. Add a couple of generous glugs of oil and swirl until the bottom of the pot is covered in a thin layer. When the oil is hot add the meat and brown on all sides. Do not over-crowd the pan or you won’t get a good sear. Do this in batches if necessary.
– When all the meat is browned, remove from the pot and set aside.
– If the pot is looking a little dry, add another swirl of oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook until the onion and celery are tender.
– Return the meat to your pot, nestling the pieces among the vegetables.
– Stir in the tomatoes, water, wine, orange juice, bay leave, orange peel, lemon peel, beef bouillon, thyme, and a dash pepper.
– Bring to a boil then reduce the heat.
– Cover and simmer on low heat until meat is tender (the original recipe says it should take 1 – 1 ½ hours but ours takes approximately double that since we use beef instead of veal…just cook it gently until it’s really tender).
– When your osso buco is almost done, check seasoning and adjust to taste with some salt if needed.
– When the meat is tender, sauce has reduced and thickened, and flavors have intensified, then you know it’s done! You can serve immediately but it does benefit from sitting overnight in the fridge.
- The original recipe adds salt earlier on in the cooking but I prefer adding the salt (aside from salt used to season the meat) later in the cooking, if at all needed. With the salt from the browning of the meat, plus the bouillon cubes, I sometimes don’t even have to add any more!
- We use beef shanks, not veal shanks as called for in a traditional osso buco. Reason being that veal shanks are both hard to find here, and once you do find them, quite pricey.
- Since we use beef shanks, which are larger than veal shanks, we like to cut the meat up instead of leaving it all around the bone as in the typical osso buco. This is how my mother made it so this is how I make it as well.
- I have added an optional 1/2 kilo of marrow bone if you love marrow like me. If you don’t, or are watching your cholesterol, please leave it out.
- This recipe makes a lot of sauce because that is the way my brother and I like it…so that is the way my mother made (and still makes) it. We love to pour the sauce very generously over our rice.
- The leftovers make a great sauce for pasta. See my old blog post on it here (but forgive the horrible photos!).
- I’ve used dried thyme here because it’s something I always have in my pantry but you can certainly use fresh (as I do when I get my hands on it).
- I don’t usually cook with bouillon cubes but, again, this is how my mama did it and my heart just cannot deviate.
Oh, and a word on gremolata. I don’t actually have a fixed recipe for it, although it is pictured here. I usually just wing it…adding more of one or the other of its three magic ingredients until I have the taste and aroma I like. But this is generally what I do: I chop a small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves. I chop about 1-2 cloves garlic. I zest 1 lemon. Then I toss all three together on a chopping board and chop them together until I get something that resembles what you see in the photo here. Chopping them together, I feel, is the magic last step that fuses their flavors into a cohesive gremolata, as opposed to just lemon, parsley, and garlic mixed together. In any case, it is the perfect foil for the richness of this stew.
- We will be giving away 5 copies of Book of 40 to 5 lucky readers!
- All you need to do is comment below sharing anything about either your own extra-special best friend OR a life idea/lesson you’ve learned from your X number of years on this good earth 🙂 That’s it!
- We will pick the winners at random through the good old reliable name-out-of-a-hat method.
- We can all be winners! If you don’t win, but would still like to order a copy of the book, just send a screenshot of this post along with your order to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will get a 29% discount (the number of years K and I have known each other!) plus free shipping!
You don’t need to follow us anywhere on social media to join this giveaway but if you’d like to learn more about Book of 40 you can check out the website here or @bookof40 on Instagram. If you’d like to follow either of our journeys…mine in the kitchen, and K’s in the garden, I’m @chichajo on Instagram and she’s @greetingsearthgirl. But again, it’s absolutely not required to join this giveaway (I promise)! Friendship is never forced, as they say!
To my dear K, and to all of you best friends out there, who staunchly believe in the magic of love and friendship, happy Best Friends Day!