Osso Buco alla Milanese

This is a recipe from my ongoing “Eating Italy” series on my Instagram (@buonappetitotutti), where I am making one dish from each of the twenty Italian regions. My aim is to showcase the unique cuisine from each region, which is one of the things I find fascinating about Italian cuisine – each region has its own flavours and traditions, but what ties the dishes of each region together is the use of seasonal and local ingredients.

For the region of Lombardia, I made osso buco alla milanese – veal shanks with saffron risotto. The rich, meaty sauce and the fragrant, golden hued saffron risotto complement each other perfectly. Many of the traditional recipes that I have read include a parsley and lemon zest gremolata, which is a lovely, fresh addition that balances the richness of the dish. Whilst it is quite time consuming to make, the actual steps are fairly easy, and it is definitely worth the wait. 

This dish is a staple in the cold, winter months in Lombardia and I would highly recommend trying it during the month of February. It would be the perfect dish for Valentine’s Day – something rich, decadent, and made with love. 

Buon appetito a tutti!

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the ossobucco:

  • Osso buco (1 per person);
  • Plain flour for coating osso buco;
  • Unsalted butter;
  • Extra virgin olive oil;
  • Small glass of white wine;
  • 1 onion, finely chopped;
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped;
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped;
  • 4 tablespoons tomato passata;
  • 1/2 litre of chicken stock;
  • Small bunch of parsley;
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the risotto:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron strands;
  • Unsalted butter;
  • 1 onion, finely chopped;
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped;
  • 100g risotto rice;
  • Small glass of white wine;
  • 1 litre of chicken stock


  • Add the saffron to almost boiling water and leave to dissolve for as long as possible – ideally overnight. I left mine for around 5 hours and it was still concentrated.
  • To prepare the osso buco, melt some butter in a pan and add the osso buco, which will be lightly floured. Brown the osso buco, then add the white wine. Allow the wine to reduce then remove the osso buco and set aside.
  • Add the wine reduction to a separate bowl with the passata and set aside for later.
  • Add about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the pan, and sauté the soffrito (onion, carrot and celery) until they soften.
  • Return the osso buco and the passata mixture to the pan and cover well with the stock.
  • Cover the pan and leave to simmer for at least 1.5 hours. Check it occasionally and add more stock if necessary.
  • To make the gremolata, finely chop the parsley and lemon zest. Set aside for later.
  • About half an hour before the ossobucco is ready, make the risotto. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the onion and celery until translucent. Then add the risotto rice, and lightly toast for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the white wine and let it reduce.
  • Then, gradually add the stock – a little at a time – and stir well to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Before you add the last part of the stock, add the saffron water, and mix well.
  • Add the final amount of stock and let it simmer so that all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Take the risotto off the heat and add a knob of butter.
  • Add the gremolata to the osso buco and stir through.
  • Serve the risotto topped with the osso buco and sauce, a sprinkle of parsley, and enjoy! Buon appetito!
Natalia Bell

Contributing Food Editor

Natalia is a lawyer who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking for and enjoying food with the people she loves, and travelling. She has a particular interest in Italian cuisine and culture, having been fortunate enough to travel there every year whilst growing up. She speaks Italian, but is continually trying to improve her skills to a fully proficient level. She would love to live in Italy one day - but, in the meantime, she posts about food and Italy on her Instagram @buonappetitotutti

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