Danielle Prewett is the author of the North Dakota based food blog, Wild + Whole, whose main focus is to share healthy recipes for wild game, as well as inspire others to live off the land.
It’s not uncommon to hear that most hunters grind the meat from the shanks of their venison. There isn’t anything wrong with this, however, there are other options. After making Osso Buco I discovered that the value of the shank isn’t just the meat, it’s what’s inside those bones that makes all the difference in the world.
Osso Buco translates to “Bone with a Hole” in Italian as it describes the cut of meat. I cut the shanks crosswise into 2″ pieces using a bone saw and tied them with kitchen twine to help keep the meat wrapped around the bone, which is full of that luscious marrow. Marrow is mostly made up of fat, an essential element when it comes to cooking with lean wild game. As the shanks slowly braise in the sauce, the marrow starts to melt like butter and on to the meat, giving you that decadent, melt-in your mouth taste.
The classic Italian recipe of braised Osso Buco is made with carrots, onion, tomatoes and wine, but I am a big fan of taking traditional recipes and giving them an interesting twist. I kept the tomatoes as the base for the sauce but traded the wine in for Coconut Milk. The meat is seasoned with a generous amount of Garam Masala, a mix of Indian Spices that you can buy at most grocery stores. Since traditional Osso Buco is typically finished off with a fresh Gremolata, I sprinkled the meat with my own version made with cilantro, lime zest and minced ginger.
The end result is juicy, tender meat infused with aromatic spices covered in a rich sauce reminiscent of Tikka Masala. It is the ultimate winter comfort food. Be sure to have some Basmati Rice or warm Naan bread to soak up all that sauce!
INDIAN SPICED OSSO BUCO
- 2½ – 3 1/2 lb. of Bone-In Venison Shanks *
- Kitchen Twine
- 3 T. Garam Masala, divided
- 1 t. Sea Salt
- 1 Small Yellow Onion, Sliced
- 4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- 1 sliced Chili Pepper (Habanero or Serrano)*
- 1 T. of Freshly Grated Ginger (Use a Microplane or finely mince)
- 1 C. Stock (Venison or beef)
- 1 – 14oz. Can of Full Fat Coconut Milk
- 1 – 14 oz. Can of plain Tomato Sauce
- ¼ t. Cayenne Powder
- ¼ t. ground cardamom
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Ghee or Oil for cooking
- ¼ C. of fresh chopped Cilantro
- Zest of ½ a Lime
- 1 t. of Minced Fresh Ginger
- Basmati Rice and/or Naan Bread
- Lime wedges
- Use a bone saw to cut the shanks crosswise into roughly 2-3″ pieces. It helps to make cuts through the muscle first using a knife, and then use the saw to finish cutting through the bone. Rinse well to make sure there are no small bone fragments or dust. Cut a small piece of kitchen twine and tie it around the bone and meat. This helps them to stay connected during the cooking process and makes it easier to serve.
- Mix 2 T. of Garam Masala and 1 t. of sea salt together in a small bowl. Season the Osso Buco with the mixture and let it rest while you prep the remaining ingredients. This can also be done the night before to let the flavors marinate.
- Pre-heat the Oven to 325. Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add a Tablespoon of Ghee or Oil to the pan and once hot, brown each piece of Osso Buco on both sides. Remove them from the pot and set aside. Add an additional Tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the sliced onions. Allow the onions to sauté for a few minutes, and then add the chili pepper, garlic and ginger. Sauté for an additional minute or until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the cup of stock and stir in the coconut milk and tomato sauce. Mix in the cayenne powder, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Return the Osso Buco back to the pot, cover the lid and transfer to the oven.
- Allow the Osso Buco to braise for about 3 -4 hours or until the meat begins to slide off the bone. The timing will depend on whether you used Pronghorn or Deer, and how big your shank cuts are. If the sauce reduces too much or dries out, you can add a splash of stock to the pot. While the Osso Buco cooks, you can prepare the Gremolata by mixing the cilantro, lime and ginger together in a small bowl.
- Serve the Osso Buco with basmati rice and/or Naan bread and garnish with lime wedges and the cilantro Gremolata.
* I used Pronghorn for this recipe, but you can still make this recipe using the shanks from a deer.
* Adjust the heat level by using de-seeded jalapeños instead.