Osso Buco with Pumpkin Mousse and Dried Persimmon Sauce

Posted by Florian in Meat, Russian Food, tagged with , , ,

As is now customary for my Moscow Rules series, I’m following my review of farm-to-table cum New Russian restaurant LavkaLavka with a recipe inspired by a dish I ate there. This time, I’ve picked chef Vladimir Chistyakov’s osso buco with pumpkin mousse and dried persimmon sauce. I really liked the veal-pumpkin-persimmon pairing, and wanted to build on it – this dish needs a side to go with all the meat! Classic Italian osso buco is often served with polenta and gremolata, so I decided to carry these over to my recipe. They, too, fit just fine in modern Russian cuisine:

  • Italy doesn’t have a monopoly on cornmeal. Moldova and Georgia both make mamalyga, which is essentially polenta. Ukraine has nachynka, which is similar but more like a baked dish (nachynka means stuffing). Since Southern Russia is a major corn producing region (it’s also where persimmons are grown, btw), I’m fairly sure Russia has its own cornmeal tradition too, not to mention that it fits perfectly into Chistyakov’s grain-rich ingredient space (see the tables at the bottom of my previous post). I’m using the not-at-all-pretentious-sounding Anson Mills Artisan Handmade Coarse Rustic Polenta Integrale for its pronounced flavor and pretty red flecks, but any other coarse cornmeal should work. The key is to cook it very slowly.
  • A typical gremolata is made with lemon zest, garlic, parsley, and anchovy – all of which could also be sourced locally from Southern Russia, and are present on LavkaLavka’s menu. However, to echo the pumpkin mousse and provide some extra crunch, I’m replacing the anchovies with pumpkin seeds.

Of course, any osso buco worth its weight in pumpkin seeds should distinguish itself by a texture that’s fork-tender, without being stringy or dry. Cooking the meat sous-vide achieves this, but I find that it tends to get a funny mouthfeel, which I sometimes call mealy for lack of a better term (apparently I’m not the only one). To avoid this, I first use a temperature that’s higher than what the sous-vide authorities generally recommend for veal shank: 68 C / 155 F, versus 62 C / 144 F as per Modernist Cuisine (it might sound like splitting hairs, but in the world of sous-vide cooking, the different is significant). I also let the meat cool for 72 hours after cooking it, and then reheat just before serving – don’t ask me why, but this improves the mouthfeel. Some people also suggest shortening the cooking time, which I haven’t had a chance to try yet.

The result definitely pushes the boundaries of what most would usually call Russian cuisine, but this is in part what Food Perestroika is all about. You can always have blini for dessert…

Russian Cuisine - Osso Buco with Pumpkin Mousse and Dried Persimmon Sauce

Sous-vide veal shanks
Yields 6 servings

4 veal shanks (osso buco cut, about 1600 g)
9 g salt
20 g canola oil
0.7 g black pepper, ground
1 g thyme sprigs
1 g rosemary sprigs
15 g butter

  • Season the veal shanks with salt on all sides. Heat the canola oil in a pan over high heat, then sauté the meat until brown on all sides.
  • Transfer the veal shanks to a cutting board. Season with black pepper, and place some thyme sprigs, rosemary, and butter on each piece. Transfer to sous-vide pouches (placing one or two pieces in each pouch), and vacuum-seal. Cook in a 68 C / 155 F water bath for 72 hours.
  • Let the meat cool in the pouches, and refrigerate overnight. Reheat in the same water bath for 1 hour before serving. 
Osso Buco

Butternut squash fabrication
Yields about 8 servings

1 butternut squash of about 900 g
15 g olive oil
salt
black pepper, ground

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and fibers from the cavity, and reserve them for the sauce base.
  • Coat the squash flesh with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cut side up, and roast in a 225 C / 450 F oven for about 40 minutes, until tender.
  • Take out of the oven, and let cool for a few minutes. Scoop the flesh out with a spoon, and discard the skin. Reserve.

Sauce base
Yields 280-300 g (4 servings)

10 g canola oil
300 g veal or beef bones
140 g peeled onion, large dice
80 g peeled carrot, large dice
50 g celery, large dice
60 g butternut squash seeds and fibers (see above)
200 g white wine
275 g water
1.5 g thyme
1.5 g rosemary

  • Heat the oil in the pot of a pressure cooker over high heat. Sauté the bones, onion, carrot, celery, and butternut squash seeds and fibers. Cook until the vegetables start to brown, stirring frequently. 
  • Add the white wine, and reduce by about half. Add the water, thyme, and rosemary, then cover, bring to pressure, and cook under pressure for 1 hour.
  • Let cool for 30 minutes, then pass through a chinois, discarding the solids. Transfer to a pint container, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  • Once the stock is cold, remove and discard the congealed fat from the surface.

Squash mousse
Yields 4 servings

220 g roasted squash, chopped
30 g sauce base
25 g orange juice
15 g honey
15 g butter
salt

  • Place the roasted squash, sauce base, orange juice, honey, and butter in a small saucepan. Cover with a lid, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Transfer to a blender, then process until smooth. Season with salt, and reserve in a pint container.
Russian Cuisine - Osso Buco with Pumpkin Mousse and Dried Persimmon Sauce

Mamalyga
Yields 4 servings

90 g coarse cornmeal 
450 g water
2.8 g salt
0.3 g piment d’espelette
20 g butter
15 g parmesan, finely grated

  • Place the cornmeal and water in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the first starch takes hold, 5-8 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are soft and hold their shape on a spoon, about 1 hour.
  • Before serving, mix in the salt, piment d’espelette, butter, and parmesan. If necessary, thin the mamalyga with a little bit of hot water.

Pumpkin seed gremolata
Yields 4 servings

45 g pumpkin seeds
6 g olive oil
salt
18 g peeled garlic, minced
2 g finely grated lemon zest
8 g parsley leaves, finely chopped
black pepper, ground

  • In a pan over medium-high heat, toast the pumpkin seeds in the olive oil until the seeds start to color. Season with salt, and transfer to a bowl.
  • Add the garlic to the same pan (there should be some oil left), and cook until brown, stirring frequently. Add to the bowl with the pumpkin seeds, and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Add the lemon zest, parsley leaves, and black pepper to the bowl, combine, and reserve.
Osso Buco

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

sous-vide veal shanks
250 g sauce base
40 g dried persimmon, coarsely chopped
squash mousse
mamalyga
pumpkin seed gremolata
thyme leaves

  • Open the sous-vide pouches containing the veal shanks, and pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan. Add the sauce base and the dried persimmon, bring to a simmer, a cook for a couple minutes, until the persimmon is soft.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender, and process until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes in the blender, then blend again just before serving. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of water.
  • Reheat the squash mousse in the microwave.
  • On each plate, add a swoosh of pumpkin purée and a generous spoonful of mamalyga.  Place one veal shank in the center, top with some sauce and pumpkin seed gremolata. Sprinkle with a few thyme leaves, and serve.
Russian Cuisine - Osso Buco with Pumpkin Mousse and Dried Persimmon Sauce
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