Saturday, 4 May 2013

Becco - one of New York's best deals

Finding a really good deal in New York is like trying to balance upside down on your head.  It usually leaves you with a headache and is close to impossible. 

The Italian restaurant of Becco, in the busy Theatre District, is special for a few reasons.  The food leaving the kitchen is innovative and beautifully created.  They have an extraordinarily comprehensive wine list and the staff are attentive and well trained.  What absolutely appealed to me was a special $25 wine list and a nightly 'Sinfonia de Paste' that includes either a Becco Caesar Salad or Antipasto Misto (marinated and grilled vegetables and seafood) and an unlimited table-side service of 3 pasta presentations.  All for $22.95. 

The powers that be at Becco kindly gave me a fantastic ossobuco recipe.  Enjoy!

Veal ossobuco with Barley Risotto


  1. 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  2. 1 sprig fresh thyme
  3. 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  4. 4 whole cloves
  5. 1 lemon
  6. 1 orange
  7. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1 cup finely chopped onion
  9. 1 cup shredded carrot
  10. 1 cup finely diced celery
  11. 3 whole shanks of veal, bones in, each about 3 and a half pounds, and each cut in 2
  12. 1 cup all purpose flour
  13. 1/2 cup veg oil
  14. 3 tsp tomato paste
  15. 1 cup dry white wine
  16. 2 cups crushed plum tomatoes
  17. 4 cups chicken stock
  18. salt and pepper to taste
Barley Risotto:
  1. 2 quarts water
  2. 1 cup diced (1/4 inch) trimmed carrots
  3. 1 cup diced (1/4 inch) onion
  4. 1 cup diced (1/4 inch) trimmed celery
  5. 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 1 and a half cups pearl barley
  8. 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1. 2 lemon peels, no white pith, finely chopped
  2. 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
  3. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Prepare ossobuco:
  • tie the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and cloves securely in a 4 inch square of cheesecloth
  • with a veg peeler remove the zest of the lemon in wide strips
  • do the same with the orange and then squeeze the orange and retain the juice
  • heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over a medium heat in a wide, heavy casserole, large enough for all the veal
  • add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until wilted, around 5 mins
  • add carrot, celery and the bundle of herbs
  • season with salt, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 mins
  • pat veal shanks dry with paper towels and then tie a piece of kitchen twine securely around the perimeter of each, to hold them together during cooking
  • season with salt and pepper, coat with flour, shaking off the excess
  • divide veg oil between 2 heavy skillets and bring up to medium heat
  • add shanks and cook, turning once, until well browned on all sides
  • add browned shanks to casserole with veg and add tomato paste
  • stir paste in well and cook, stirring occasionally and turning the shanks once or twice, for around 10 mins
  • pour in white wine, bring to the boil, then add orange juice, and orange and lemon zest
  • bring to a vigorous boil over a high heat for 10 mins
  • add crushed tomatoes, reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 mins
  • stir in a cup of chicken stock
  • cover and simmer over a low heat, adding stock to keep the level of the liquid in the casserole the same, until the shanks are tender, around an hour and a half
  • rotate the shanks in the casserole as they cook
meanwhile, prepare the barley:
  • bring the water, celery, carrot, onion, bay leaves and olive oil to a boil
  • stir in the barley and cook until tender but still firm, around 20 mins
  • drain barley and set aside
and the gremolata:
  • toss the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in small bowl until blended and set aside
  • when the veal is tender, remove the shanks and cut off strings
  • put the cooking sauce through a sieve, pressing hard on the solids to remove liquid as possible
  • return the meat and strained sauce to the casserole and bring to the boil
  • check seasoning and keep warm over a low heat
finish the barley:
  • heat the butter in a large, heavy skillet over a medium to low heat
  • add the barley and cook, stirring often, until heated through and coated with butter
  • season with salt and pepper
and finally:
  • serve some barley and 2 pieces of veal onto each plate, add a little sauce and then sprinkle over gremolata

Photograph: Marcus Nillson

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