Venison Osso Bucco & Frascatelli Pasta
In the life of a hunter, every month, every season, has its rhythm and movement. April is waiting for the serviceberry to bloom, and the massive migration of shad to snake up the Rappahannock. By late May, the weeds in the creeks that fill the mighty Potomac start growing, and fast. Snakehead season has begun. October, and the neighbors are carving pumpkins while we’re carving up a deer in the backyard. The post-holiday depression in January never comes for us- we’re too busy watching for ducks in the marsh.
And so each meal that we put together from our wild bounty pulls from this annual ebb and flow. As one pursuit comes into focus, another fades. To be able to assemble a dish that brings them together is an act of joy. In this recipe, August’s canned tomatoes bring a bright summery pop to December’s dark, luscious venison. In one bite, two seasons.
We use venison shank in this recipe, cross-cut into what is called osso bucco. Shanks are great any way you cut them, pun intended. We cut ours with a sawzall, or use an oscillating tool with a saw blade. You can do it by hand with a bone saw too. Whatever method you choose, make sure you thoroughly wipe down the meat before packing or cooking, otherwise you’ll find bone fragments in your dish later.
Frascatelli is a free-form homemade pasta that is incredibly easy to make. The variety in size and shape lends the dish a more interesting texture. You don’t need any special equipment to pull it off, either- just a bowl, some semolina, and a squeeze bottle.
Venison Osso Bucco with Tomatoes and Frascatelli Pasta
Prep time: 1 hour active, 24 hours inactive
1 venison shank, cross cut into 2-2.5” thick pieces
1 pint canned tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced fine
2 cups white wine
¼ cup duck fat
1 tsp basil, dried
Sous vide device set at 176F.
Season shank with heavily with salt, wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, rinse off excess salt, pat dry and season with black pepper.
In a large pan heated to medium high heat, add oil and brown both sides of the shank, for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, and set aside.
Adjust heat to medium, add in ¼ cup duck fat and onions. Cook until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and basil, stirring often, and allow to cook down to a loose paste, 5-8 minutes. Pour in white wine and reduce until liquid is just below the tomatoes and onions, about 5 minutes.
Place osso bucco in large vacuum sealer bag and add the tomato-onion-wine concoction. Seal and place in sous vide water bath. Cook for 24 hours.
When done, remove from bag and serve over frascatelli or other small pasta.
2 cups semolina flour
Pour 1 cup of semolina into a wide pan or bowl. Using a squeeze bottle, direct a very thin line of water onto the semolina in a tight zigzag pattern. It will clump up where the water hits it. Use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to break up the clumps of frascatelli. Use a slotted spoon to remove frascatelli from the semolina, or pour the whole thing through a coarse strainer (with a bowl underneath to catch and reserve the semolina). Repeat until you are out of dry semolina. Lay the pasta out on a dry cutting board or sheet pan while you work.
Boil heavily salted water and cook frascatelli until it floats, 5-10 minutes, strain out and oil lightly to prevent sticking.