The classic Italian ossobuco gets a makeover in this recipe for Lamb Ossobuco Casserole. We topped it with a Polenta Crust and a savory gremolata.
If you are a lamb lover, this casserole will make you happy! Tender, succulent chunks of lean, lamb are slow-cooked with vegetables, herbs and wine until tender and saturated with flavor.
This casserole recipe is a meal-in-a-dish and it is easy enough for a weeknight dinner. It is also special enough to serve for company. Either way, served with a crisp salad and a crunchy loaf of garlic bread it will make a delightful meal!
What is Ossobuco?
Ossobuco is a classic dish from northern Italy. The word, ossobuco, translates to “bone with a hole”. Traditionally, veal shanks are used and cross-cut into slices, exposing the hole. The hole in the bone has a thick marrow filling. That marrow is rich, flavorful and prized by many home cooks and chefs.
The veal shanks are braised with chopped vegetables and white wine until they are super tender. Gremolata, a mixture of chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest and typically sprinkled on top when served.
Other Meat Options besides Veal
You don’t need to use veal in an ossobuco recipe. Beef, lamb, and pork are also great options and they are kinder to the budget than veal.
Lamb shank ossobuco is my personal favorite and you can check out my Lamb Shanks-Osso Buco Style for a special treat.
Do you have to use a lamb shank?
This easy casserole is a twist on a lamb osso bucco, as I have used tender chunks of lean lamb. It was more affordable than the shank.
When shopping recently at Costco I purchased a large boneless leg of lamb. Actually, it was the last selection of lamb in the meat section. Everything else was literally sold out.
A large boneless leg of lamb made a dent in my checkbook but I portioned it up into several sections which made it much more affordable and it served as four separate meals.
A one-pound portion was used to cook some Greek lamb pita sandwiches. Another portion was used for our grilled lamb kabobs. Then this lamb ossobuco casserole used a nice sized portion and I will have one more serving of lamb to create something else.
What you need to make this Lamb Ossobuco Casserole.
As I mentioned above I am using lean chunks of the leg of lamb. Other choices would be lamb stew meat or chunks of lamb from the shoulder. For the casserole you will need:
- Lamb meat
- Olive oil
- Onion, carrots, celery
- Garlic and fresh herbs
- White wine
- Crushed tomatoes
- Beef broth
For the polenta crust you will need:
- Chicken broth
- Yellow stone-ground cornmeal
- Parmesan cheese
Ossobuco is typically served with a sprinkling of gremolata on each portion. Gremolata is a finely chopped mixture of:
- Fresh parsley
- Lemon zest
The gremolata mixture is optional but if you have the ingredients it is pretty nice to add as a garnish to each serving.
How to make it:
Get all the tips and tricks here but make sure you scroll down to the printable recipe card below .
Step 1. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a dish and dust the lamb chunks and set them on a plate. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sear the dusted lamb chunks to give them a rich crust. As the lamb chunks brown, remove them and reserve on a paper towel-lined plate.
Step 2. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and cook the onions, carrots, celery and garlic just until the onion is soft. Add the wine to the skillet and cook for 1 minute, scraping the bits from the bottom. Stir in the tomatoes and the beef broth. Return the browned lamb chunks to the skillet and bring to a boil to reheat the lamb.
Step 3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Add the rosemary sprigs and cover the dish with foil. Place the casserole in the oven and bake. Transfer the casserole to your workspace, remove the foil and allow to rest while making the polenta crust.
Tips for success:
- Preheat the oven so it is hot when you are ready to put the casserole in.
- When you sear the chunks of lamb, do it in batches. If you sear them all at once then they will steam instead of sear.
- Make sure you deglaze the skillet when you add the wine. Deglazing dissolves and removes the brown bits that get cooked onto the bottom of the skillet. It will get all that good flavor to blend back into the sauce.
The Polenta Crust:
Step 1. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Combine the milk, broth, salt, and pepper in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the cornmeal.
Step 2. Once all of the cornmeal is blended, continue to stir for 2–3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring periodically with a wooden spoon. Remove the cornmeal from the heat and stir in the butter, egg, and cheese.
Step 3. Spoon the polenta over the casserole and return the dish to the oven. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
That’s it! Now if you are planing to include the tangy gremolata it will take less than five minutes to combine the chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest together in a dish.
Tips for the polenta crust:
- Use a wire whisk and stir continuously while slowly pouring in the cornmeal. This will keep the cornmeal from clumping up.
- As you stir the thickened polenta, be careful because the mixture can spatter and spit hot cornmeal out and it can burn you.
Spoon the lamb ossobuco casserole into shallow dishes and sprinkle each serving with the gremolata. Serve with a crisp salad, some crusty bread and a good red wine!
You’re welcome 😊
SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:
- Lamb Sugo: This is a real treat! Lamb Sugo is an Italian treat, made with lean lamb, onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes, beef broth and red wine in a long oven simmer, creating a thick, mellow sauce. The addition of cocoa nibs and a short cinnamon stick give this sauce a magical depth of richness.
- Moroccan Lamb Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce: These savory, spicy meatballs are a taste sensation! Serve them as appetizers or with hot steamy rice for a main entree.
- Braised Herb Lamb Shanks: Succulent, fall-off-the-bone tender meat bursting with flavor from the herb blend, wine and beef broth. We served the lamb shanks on a mound of mashed potatoes with a portion of the rich, silky sauce over the top
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For the Casserole:
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-1/2 pounds of lamb stew meat in 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
For the Polenta Crust:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white or black ground pepper
- 1 cup yellow stone-ground cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
For the Gremolata:
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
For the Casserole:
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease a 2 quart oven-proof casserole dish.
- In a shallow dish or plate, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the lamb pieces in the flour mixture and place on a plate. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet set over medium-high and sear the lamb pieces,in batches until browned. Remove from the skillet as they brown and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and cook the onions, carrots, celery and garlic just until the onion is soft.
- Add the wine to the skillet and cook for 1 minute, scraping the bits from the bottom. Stir in the tomatoes and the beef broth. Return the lamb to the skillet and bring to a boil.
- Transfer the mixture to the greased casserole dish, add the rosemary sprigs and cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour. Transfer the casserole to your workspace, remove the foil and allow to rest while making the polenta crust.
For the Polenta Crust:
- Adjust the oven temperature to 400°F
- Combine the milk, broth, salt, and pepper in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the cornmeal. Stir continuously with a wire whisk to keep the polenta from clumping.
- Once all of the cornmeal is blended, continue to stir for 2–3 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring periodically with a wooden spoon.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, egg and cheese.
- Spoon the polenta on the top of the casserole and return the dish to the oven and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
For the Gremolata:
Combine the chopped parsley and lemon zest together and when the casserole is ready to serve sprinkle the mixture over the crust.
- Lamb cuts can be from the leg, shank, breast or shoulder. Trim off as much fat and sinew as possible.
- Before adding the polenta mixture to the casserole, spoon off as much of the fat that has rose to the top.
- To make in advance: The casserole can be assembled and baked without the crust, refrigerated overnight then the polenta crust can be mixed and added when ready to bake.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 504Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 169mgSodium: 1066mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 47g
Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.