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Veal Shank Pasta Sauce


We all know basic tomato sauce, and we’re aware that the variations are nearly infinite. But one of my
favorites, which requires considerably more time but almost no extra effort, adds the wonderful depth of
flavor, silken texture and satisfying chewiness of slow-cooked meat, bone and marrow. Southern Italian in
origin, it begins with bony meat (or meaty bones) and requires lengthy simmering.
You can use almost any meat on the bone you like — spare ribs are one good option — but I think this
sauce is most wonderful with a single piece of meaty veal shank, the cut you’d use for osso buco. When the
meat is ready to fall off the bone, it is chopped into the sauce. (Meat is a supporting player here, not the

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  • Summary
  • Brown the meat well before adding the tomatoes. And use a narrow pot or partly cover a wider one,
  • because you don't want the sauce to lose so much moisture that it becomes too thick. Finally, this sauce is
  • rich enough not to need grated cheese -- use a handful of coarsely chopped parsley or a chiffonade of basil
  • instead.
  • Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small dried hot red chilies, optional
  • 1 piece meaty veal shank, 1/2 to 1 pound
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 pound ziti, penne or other cut pasta
  • 1/2 cup or more roughly chopped parsley or basil leaves



Step 1

1. Place the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. After a minute, add the chilies and cook for about
30 seconds. Add the veal shank, and raise the heat to medium high; cook, turning as necessary, until the
meat is nicely browned, 10 minutes or more. When the meat is just about done, add the garlic, salt and

2. When the garlic has softened a bit, crush tomatoes and add them, with their juice. Turn the heat to medium-low to maintain a steady simmer. If you are using a broad pot, cover it partially. Cook,
stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and just about falling off the bone, at least 1 hour.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it. Cook the pasta until it is tender but firm. Remove the veal shank, chop it coarsely, scoop out any marrow and return the meat to the sauce (discard the bone). Remove and discard the chilies.

4. Drain and sauce the pasta; sprinkle it with the herb, toss, and serve.

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