Taste the traditional dishes of Milano

Ossobuco (marrowbone) is a typical speciality of Milanese cuisine and is often served on a bed of yellow Risotto alla Milanese.


The name comes from ossbus, which means a ‘bone with a hole’ in the local dialect and refers to the cut of veal that is used: a slice of the shin in which the round section of bone is surrounded by tender meat. The bone is filled with tasty marrow that can be scooped out with a spoon or the customary tool, a small scooper, which is referred to with some irony as the “esattore” (tax collector).

The recipe for Ossobuco, which is lightly coated in flour before being put in the pan to fry, appeared in cookbooks as early as the 18th century. Over the centuries it has been elaborated and modified in a variety of ways, such as the addition of a tomato sauce.


An essential ingredient to this dish is the so-called “gremolada”, a finely-ground paste of garlic, lemon peel and parsley that is added just before serving for an extra dash of colour and taste.


Other variants include side dishes such as peas, carrots, beans or potato puree, or the addition of diced bacon to the butter and onion in which the meat is fried. Ossobuco also goes well with polenta, another staple of the Lombardy cuisine.

The recipe

Ingredients – Serves 4


  • 4 slices of veal shank, 4 cm thick, cut low down where the bone is small and only filled with marrow, not spongy bone (approx. 300 g each)
  • White flour
  • 50 g butter
  • ¼ chopped onion
  • A ladle of broth
  • A very small fresh tomato peeled and chopped fine or the tip of a teaspoon of tomato puree (not essential)
  • Salt


For the “gremolada”:


  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • Half a clove of garlic (not essential)
  • A boned anchovy
  • A handful of chopped parsley


In a wide pan, sautée the onion in the butter. Add the lightly floured shanks and brown on both sides, turning them without piercing the meat.


Add a little broth, the tomato (a tiny amount since Milanese cuisine held out longer than any other against the introduction of this vegetable which in the 18th century had won over many other regions), and the salt.


Cover the pan and simmer slowly for about an hour and a half until the meat has a slightly glazed appearance.


Five minutes before serving, add the “gremolada”, which is a mixture of chopped lemon rind, parsley, garlic and anchovy. Mix well and serve with Milanese risotto.