Hierarchy of Food

If such a thing existed, I would argue that Osso Buco is near the top of the Hierarchy of Food. In my mind, it qualifies as one of those old-world, classic, handed-down-through-the-generations, hard-to-perfect type of recipes. It’s like Coq-au-vin or Bouillabaisse or Vin Diesel; they are intimidating and can seem complicated but, when you get down to the nuts and bolts, are really quite simple.

Marc has been wanting to try this for a while now; I’ve been kind of hesitating because it would be an expensive dish to fuck up, but it was de-intimidatized* thanks to two factors: America’s Test Kitchen made it so we could use their recipe, and the label on the package of veal shanks that we bought said “Ossco Bocco”. Honestly, if the veal people are misspelling it, than it cannot be that big of a deal.

Turns out, I had my knickers in a twist about nothing; this thing was dead easy. Maybe it acquired its daunting reputation when people still used wood-burning ovens and the tricky part was maintaining a steady temperature for a long period of time. Even though we did screw up on part of it (added the tomato juice with the tomatoes) and I burned the palm of my hand on the pot, we ended up with a more than decent Sunday-night supper. Too, there was polenta to coat the bottom of the bowls and soak up the rich sauce; sauce is the bee’s knees.

However, I regret to say that this classic, smarty-pants recipe can’t beat braised lamb shanks – much like Vin Diesel cannot, under any circumstances, beat James Bond. There’s something about James/lamb shanks that add an exquisite, tasteful edge to what would otherwise be simply a decent Vin/Osso Buco. Even if you try to dress up the Vin/Osso Buco with a tuxedo/gremolata, it’s still the same piece of plain, old meat underneath. Plus, which one goes better with martinis? Uh-huh. And we all know that martinis are at the top of the food hierarchy.

* The Simpson’s taught me that I can make up and use any word I like, as long as the context of its use explains the meaning, i.e. “A noble spirit embiggins the smallest man.”

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