Tag Archives: mirepoix


We bought our own slow cooker so that we could return the one we had borrowed from Carol. Susan found a large one because she wanted to try it with brisket. Dutifully, I went to the butcher shop and bought a beautiful 3 pound brisket that was just the right size for the cooker. (I’ll post the family recipe for that at a later date. ) While I was waiting for the butcher to cut the brisket to order, my eye caught some meaty veal shanks lined up in pairs in one corner of the display case. To my way of thinking, shanks of any sort – lamb, veal, beef – are delicious and perfect for braising. They turn out fork-tender and suffused with the herbs and liquids that you use to braise them. Another perfect meal for the slow cooker. I had two wrapped up with plans for dinner for the evening. Those plans would include topping the braised veal with the traditional gremolata, a distant cousin of chimichurri and Italian salsa verde, and scooping out the braised marrow to spread on toast soldiers. I wound up serving the mirepoix – onion, celery, and carrot – but you can strain it out. I think that would be too bad because the braised vegetables are so flavorful. You can also add tomatoes, anchovies, and different herbs – or not. There are many recipes and variations for osso buco, so unless you’re a purist you can take some liberties with the preparation to make it your own.




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cross-cut veal shanks
  • ½ cup carrots, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup celery, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • bouquet garni ( 3 sprigs parsley, bay leaf, 3 sage leaves, 3 branches thyme in cheesecloth packet)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in the slow cooker set at LOW. Add the veal shanks, turning them until they are lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Don’t worry if they don’t brown fully on the low temperature of the cooker.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, onion, smashed garlic, bouquet garni, chicken stock, and white wine. Cook, covered, for 3 hours with the cooker set on SIMMER if you have that setting, otherwise, set on LOW. Check periodically and add more chicken stock if needed.
  3. Remove the bouquet garni and correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve the lamb shanks on a bed of the vegetables on individual plates with the braising liquid ladled over them. You can make a thicker sauce if you wish to use another pan. Transfer the braising liquid to a small saucepan over a medium flame to reduce the liquid by half. Top with the gremolata.



  • 12 sprigs of parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped very finely
  • 1 large clove garlic, base and green sprout – if any – removed
  • 1 lemon, zest + 1 tablespoon juice
  • salt and pepper


  1. On a cutting board, chop the parsley finely and push it into a compact pile.
  2. Using a micro plane, grate the garlic onto the pile of parsley.
  3. Again using the micro plane, zest the lemon onto the parsley.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  5. With your fingers, combine the ingredients. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to small bowl.
  6. Serve on top of the braised veal shank, and pass any extra at the table.


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San Francisco’s Ferry Building Farmers Market is much more than the outdoor stalls which attract crowds a couple of days each week. There are all sorts of shops inside the building selling everything from kitchen gear to local caviar. The cheese shops are outstanding, the bakeries are great, and the mushroom place has a huge choice of the freshest specimens. For the carnivores, there are several great shops, but a favorite of both Sarah and me is Prather Ranch. We bought four succulent lamb shanks already done up in plastic, but clearly very fresh. These would be the centerpiece of our farmers market meal.

Turning the braising lamb shanks

After getting the lamb shanks home, Sarah browned them in a huge Magnalite casserole along with a couple of cloves of smashed garlic and some aromatic vegetables: carrots and onions. Chefs seem divided over the use of celery in the classic mirepoix combination of onions, celery, and carrots. Some refuse to use celery as they think it is too bitter. Whatever your own personal bias might be, be sure to brown the lamb shanks in some oil and your choice of vegetables. Add some stock or water and a good slug of red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in a generous handful of fresh thyme and Mediterranean (not Mexican) oregano. Bring to a boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to the lowest simmer.

Some purists insist on using rosemary and garlic as the classic seasoning for lamb. You can do that instead if you prefer, but I can guarantee that thyme and oregano work beautifully.

Steaming braising liquid with herbs

Sarah finished her dish over low heat on the stove top, turning and basting frequently as well as skimming off excess fat. If you prefer, you can braise the lamb shanks, covered,  in the oven at low heat – no more than 250°F. Be sure to check the pot frequently and skim the rendered fat. Plan to braise the shanks for at least 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is well done, tender, and falling off the bone.

When they are done to your liking, remove the lamb shanks to a platter and serve them immediately while still warm.

Finished lamb shanks

Lamb shanks vary greatly in size, but in most cases you should allow one for each diner. With only three of us and four lamb shanks we wound up with leftovers.

Ready to serve


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