Friday, December 3, 2010

Osso Buco for Cook the Books

I have never liked Mario Batali.

There, I said it. Its officially out there. Its true. While he doesn’t annoy me quite as much as Bobby Flay, I just could never appreciate him.

That being said....that may have all changed. After reading Bill Buford’s “Heat” for Cook the Books, I have a new understanding of Mario, and the circumstances and choices that have made him the man he is today. Or is that “mad”man? I’m not sure.

For one thing, I think I would really like to share a meal with Mario. I can imagine that would be one hell of a life experience. I need to put that on my Bucket List.

27. Eat with Mario Batali.

Although the book itself didn’t win me over (I found it fairly tedious, as told by Buford) I enjoyed the stories about Mario and the kitchen environment.

Now, unfortunately, with my new found appreciation for Mario, I’m still never going to be able to watch his show. Why? Because I’ll never see him the same way again. Maybe if he wore long pants. But with those shorts...and the orange clogs....I’ll only ever have one image of Mario burned into my brain. And that, my friends, is his calves.

No, Mario doesn’t raise cattle (as far as I know). I mean his beefy, hairy CALVES. You know, the part of his legs that rests just below his shorts and above his signature orange clogs? Yes, THOSE calves.

In his book, Buford quotes the first chef that Mario ever worked for, and now the picture will be forever stamped into my memory: "I will never forget him," White said, when I met him in London. "He has fucking big calves, doesn't he? He should donate them to the kitchen when he dies. They'll make a great osso buco. If he walked in today, and I only saw those calves, I'd know it was Mario."

So, while I am nearly ashamed to even post this, since Deb at Kahakai Kitchen had the very same image ingrained on her, and did a much more fabulous job at depicting it, I’m going to share it with you anyway.

For Mario, and Buford, (Oh, and of course, my husband), I made Osso Buco. Veal , in any form, is nearly impossible to get your hands on in these parts, but even if I could have gotten some, I still would have used the bulging beef shanks that I commandeered from my local grocer. They were lovely and VAST, and I could easily imagine them being sliced from Mario’s own calves. That, and as I mentioned, I will forever see those calves as “beefy” and not at all resembling the critter from whence veal comes.

And so it shall be, in my house, from this day forward (oh, almost had a flashback to the last wedding I presided over!), this dish shall be known as MARIO BUCO.
I based the dish on Mark Bittman’s recipe for Osso Buco (from How to Cook Everything, because really, I have not been disappointed yet!) with a few changes. I used Merlot in lieu of white wine, because, frankly, red meat and red wine are just a go-to combination for me. I also added fire roasted tomatoes to the pan after searing the shanks thoroughly. These beef shanks braised for about an hour and a half in my oven, and made my house smell like a little slice of heaven....with sauce. The hubs was gloriously satisfied and impressed with the tenderness of the beef. I also may have omitted the new name of the dish and declined to comment on the inspiration for the dish.... as picky as he is, I didn’t see him being happy about eating my concocted version of Mario Batali’s extremities.

And so, in honor of Mario, I give you....his calves. I may need a support group to help me wipe this image from my mind.... just not the dish, because it was, and I’m sure White would agree....fucking awesome.


Anonymous said...

He , he, great post! I don't think there are many people that really like Mario Batali. Maybe they are intimidated by him or find him amusing, but like him? It is rather difficult. I have yet to make osso buco myself, although the association with Mario's calves just doesn't make it so appetizing.

ARLENE said...

Great post. I've always loved watching him on TV, but his recipes just didn't resonate. I'm not into pig's cheeks or other esoteric cuts of meat and I think he may take himself a tad too seriously. Of course, the next time I order osso bucco, I'll be thinking of his great hairy calves. Thanks for that image, lol.

Anonymous said...

I love your post! I don't care for Mario a great deal either...and I've always known it was mostly due to my horrible 'allergy" to testosterone! Your Mario Buco looks wonderful! I can almost taste it! Mmmmm!

Rachel said...

That is one meaty osso buco. Glad you liked the book! This should be an interesting roundup at Cook the Books.

Joanne said...

So maybe it's a good thing I never watched Mario's show to begin with. The image of his calves...uh...yeah. however, I don't know that I'll ever be able to eat osso buco again either. Although yours is so tempting...

Claudia said...

I guess I'm with those who had no real prior opinion of Mario, other than his Babbo cookbook, in which the recipes are good, and you don't really get a glimpse of those famous calves.

However, a great Osso bucco, which I certainly appreciate.

Krista said...

I must live under a rock! I certainly recognize the name, but I don't know a thing about Mario I'll take your word for it. But this Osso Buco....OH YUM! It looks and sounds wonderful It's something that I've wanted to try for a long, long time. Well executed!

Cook of the House said...

I can't even imagine eating a meal with Mario Batali. Although, I am sure "it would be one hell of an experience, it would be pure gluttony, I'm sure. Your Mario Buco looks great and I agree with re: red meat and red wine go together.

Simona said...

I have only seen his face and only in photos, so I am afraid I miss an important reference. I enjoyed reading your post and I am glad you liked the osso buco.

Kim said...

Hmmmm..not a fan of Mario or Bobby. Is it the red hair? LOL.

Sounds like the osso bucco was a great choice for this round of cook the books. Love that you went with the man-sized beef! Looks tender and delicious.

Debinhawaii said...

I am terrible that I am just getting around to everyone's CTB posts now. ;-) Your big meaty Mario-sized shanks are gorgeous and Bittman's osso buco recipe is a favorite of mine. I am happy our minds work in similar ways! lol!