Food & Wine
This winter has been one of coughs, colds, chills and minor ailments.
It seems even kale cannot beat the common cold. I have been stuck at home for three weeks with my two little girls, and all the sniffling has made me question just how "super" super-foods need to be to supercharge your immune system. How much kale, broccoli and citrus is really required to ward off the winter nasties?
Feeling a little let down by vegetables this week, I have opted for some ancient healing food in the form of marrow. Marrow is the soft sloppy stuff inside animal bones. It is highly nutritious and was once so popular that it has its own utensil, a marrow spoon. Even Queen Victoria ate it daily, spread on her afternoon toast. Marrowbones are generally veal or beef leg bones.
Eating the marrow from the spinal bones of cattle fell from fashion (and is unavailable in Britain) due to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak of the 90s.
BSE, colloquially known as "mad cow disease" when spread to humans, is actually called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). It has a long incubation period, so it can spread through blood before symptoms are apparent. This is why those who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996, or received a transfusion in the UK after 1990, can't donate blood.
Luckily, my favourite marrowbone dish is from the beef shin. Osso buco meaning "bone with a hole" in Italian is one of my favourite dishes in winter.
In the same way that beef broth used to be served as beef tea to invalids, I like to make osso buco at home when we're poorly to help build us all up.
The flavour from the bone is captured in the rich gravy (cooking meat on the bone always adds flavour), and the extra-nutritious marrow is easily enjoyed.
Traditionally, osso buco is made with veal and white wine. However, my version is made with beef shin in a tomato base.
This recipe works equally as well with any small cut on the bone, like lamb shanks or lamb neck chops.
For the past few years I have teased my husband relentlessly about his penchant for sundried tomatoes. With glee I have pointed at the shrivelled wee toms on his homemade pizza, shouting: "Ha ha, that is so 90s."
To me, sundried tomatoes and focaccia were stuck in time, their appearance on a menu extremely unfashionable and buying them at the deli counter almost laughable. But, now, after realising that my foodie snobbishness has prevented me from enjoying a flavour-packed treat, I have mended my ways.
And now, when I add sundried tomatoes to our meals, I have to endure a short burst of pointing and teasing before dinner. But it is worth a little ridicule.
Eschewing fashionable immune-boosting kale smoothies has led to much happiness at the dinner table.
This wonderful, healing osso buco dish can also be cooked in the slow cooker on low for three hours. However, it is imperative when slow cooking anything that the meat is first extremely well browned and the liquid is halved.
- Sunday Star Times
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