I’ve been lusting after this book for a while now but it was only a few weeks ago that I finally got my hands on a copy thanks to my friend Ferdi who lugged it back home all the way from the States. Happy happy joy joy!
At a glance, The 4-Hour Chef looks like a cookbook but it’s light years more than that with a scope that covers things like learning new languages (Author Tim Ferriss learned Spanish in 8 weeks. Eight weeks!) and kicking ass at camping among others. It’s gonna take me a while to finish this one – it is mammoth and would double excellently as a doorstop – but that’s fine and I plan to enjoy taking my time with it.
To celebrate, I decided to try my hand at the first recipe that appears on this book. Lesson # 1 is what the author calls “osso buko”, a play on the original “osso buco”, as a jab at how this is a simplified idiot-proof version and therefore a sort of spoof.
I’ve never made this before and have only tried it once and quite enjoyed it. I announced to the folks that I’ll be taking care of dinner. You better deliver, Ferriss!
To make, I used:
About 1 kg beef shanks (the author uses 4 12-oz lamb shanks)
1 1/2 medium carrots
1 480 g can, whole peeled tomatoes (the author uses a 425 g can which was nowhere to be found in my supermarket)
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (or 3 pinches of garlic powder)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
About 1/3 cup dry white wine (the author uses about 1/3 bottle – more on this later)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A handful of whole black olives (because OLIVE GOOD and I couldn’t resist)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350 F. Peel and chop the carrots into more or less equal-sized sticks. The idea is to make a bed of carrots in your Dutch oven.
2. Add the beef shanks.
3. Squish the whole tomatoes by hand and add into the Dutch oven. Careful, they squirt! Add the tomato juice as well. I left out about a third of the tomato juice because I used a bigger can of tomatoes than was required. Also, my Dutch oven (which is suuuuuper cute and pink, show you later) is rather small and I didn’t want things to overflow. If you have a good-sized Dutch oven, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to use all the tomato juice? With a bit of adjustment on the salt, of course.
4. Add in raw garlic. Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and add just enough white wine so about 3/4 of the shanks are submerged. A rule of thumb for cooking with wine is to use wine that you enjoy drinking. I’m no sommelier but I really like Hardy’s Riesling so I went with that. It’s not the driest wine out there though, FYI. As for using about 1/3 cup when the author uses 1/3 bottle – any more and my shanks would’ve been swimming.
5. End with a generous grinding of black pepper (about 10 enthusiastic turns of the mill if you wanna be anal about it) and 3 pinches of salt sprinkled from a height for even distribution.
This now goes in the oven and cooks for 2 hours. Didn’t I tell you it was ridiculously easy? It’s ridiculously easy.
Which is why it was troubling when I checked after 2 hours and found that the meat wasn’t tender enough. Urgh.
I brought this back to the oven and cooked for another 30 minutes. Then another 20 with some whole olives thrown in and the oven turned down to 150 C. At this point, it still wasn’t as tender as I would’ve liked (fall-off-the-bone) but it was passable plus the folks were getting grumpy because they were hungry. Kids.
So now I present to you my first attempt at osso buco!
Looks pretty sexy, right? But then there’s the all-important issue of the meat. The meat.
A couple things come to mind. 1) I think my shanks are too meaty. Meat near the bone is tastier and more tender and I think there was just too much meat around each bone for it to soften completely in 2 hours. 2) My oven may have to be re-calibrated. I haven’t done that once in the 2+ plus years I’ve used it and maybe the temperature is a bit off. Perhaps it was too hot? 3) The recipe is a sham. But I highly doubt that.
I served it up anyway with some store-bought garlic bread.
The flavors are pretty darn good actually. And sopping up sauce with garlic bread is always fun.
Will make again with learned lessons in mind. Not bad Ferriss, not bad!
Fun Food Fact: Osso buco literally translates to “bone hole” in Italian.