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Ossobuco di Capriolo con Spaetzle
(Venison Ossobuco with Spaetzle)

Chef Lidia Bastianich, TV personality, author and owner of Felidia and Becco - New York, NY, Lidia's Kansas City and Lidia's Pittsburgh
Adapted by StarChefs

Chef Lidia prefers ossobucco of venison cut from the thickest part of the shank, just below the knee. Ask your butcher to tie the venison pieces around the perimeter with sturdy kitchen twine.

Yield: 6 Servings


  • ½ pound fresh spinach
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Large pinch ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk

    *This recipe requires the use of a spaetzle maker.
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 cup celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 venison ossobuco, approximately 8 to 10 ounces each
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup fruity red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 cup fresh carrot juice
  • 1 cup crushed canned Italian San Marzano plum tomatoes or peeled ripe fresh plum tomatoes
  • 5 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth, hot
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt

For spaetzle:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove any tough leaves from the spinach, then blanch the spinach in boiling water until tender, about 1 minute. Drain spinach in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. With your hands, squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach. Chop spinach very fine, then squeeze again to remove as much water as possible. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg together. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the beaten eggs and all but 2 Tablespoons of the milk. With a fork, incorporate the flour gradually into the egg mixture, adding enough of the remaining milk if necessary to make a stiff but supple dough. Beat in the spinach. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest 1 to 2 hours before cooking.

For ossobuco:
While spaetzle dough is resting, prepare the ossobuco. With a vegetable peeler, remove the orange zest in wide strips. Do the same to the lemon. Cut the zest of one orange into very thin strips, about 1/8-inch-wide. With a paring knife, cut off the white pith from one of the oranges. Working over a bowl, cut the orange segments free of the membranes and let them drop in the bowl as you work. Squeeze the juice from the remaining orange. Set the orange zest strips, the wide pieces of orange and lemon zest, the orange segments and the orange juice aside separately. Prepare a bouquet garni by wrapping the bay leaves, cloves, rosemary and juniper berries securely in a 4-inch square of cheesecloth.

In a heavy braising pan or a casserole large enough to the hold all the venison pieces, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and the bouquet garni. Season the vegetables lightly with salt and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the venison pieces generously with salt. Dredge them in flour until lightly coated, then shake off the excess flour. In a wide skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add as many of the venison pieces as will fit in a single layer and cook, turning as necessary, until well browned on all sides, about, 10 minutes. Add the browned ossobuco to the braising pan and repeat with the remaining venison. (If the vegetables are browned before all the venison is browned, remove the casserole from the heat.)

Return the casserole to medium heat if necessary. Stir the tomato paste into the vegetable mixture in the casserole and cook, stirring until it begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the carrot juice, orange and lemon rind, and orange juice. Bring to a vigorous boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, adjust the heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered 30 minutes. Add 2 cups of the hot chicken stock, stir well and return to a simmer. Let cook, with the lid slightly ajar, until the meat is tender at its thickest point, about 1 ½ hours. Test for doneness with a cooking fork: the fork should pierce through the meat all the way to the bone with only a light resistance. Add the remaining stock as necessary to keep the meat almost completely covered.

When the meat is tender, remove from the casserole. Pass the sauce through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much liquid from them and to force some of them through the sieve. Return the meat and sauce to the casserole and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and keep the venison warm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Transfer the dough into the well of a spaetzle maker and pass into the boiling water. Cook the spaetzle until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the spaetzle your particular spaetzle maker produces. Scoop out the spaetzle with a wire skimmer and transfer to a large skillet. Spoon enough of the venison sauce over the spaetzle to coat them. Toss lightly over low heat until the spaetzle begin to absorb the sauce. Season the spaetzle with salt and pepper.

To serve:
Transfer the venison to a platter or plates. Spoon most of the sauce over the meat and sprinkle with finely shredded orange zest. Garnish venison with orange segments and spoon the spaetzle around them. Serve at once.

Wine Pairing:
A Brunello di Montalcino such as the Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 1999


   Published: January 2005