When you consider Texas traditions during the holidays, there are plenty of favorites, even iconic, foods that come to mind, such as fried turkey, tamales, cornbread stuffing, and buttermilk pie. As gigantic as Texas is, it is no surprise the diversity that has shaped our traditions, with influences from German, Czech, and Mexican cultures. They brought with them humble homestead dishes using ingredients such as pork and vegetables grown in their gardens.
These delectable recipes have been passed down for generations; dishes eaten as children during the holidays that still give people a warm, fuzzy feeling, and bring back cherished memories that many will carry with them into their dotage.
Some families, however, have unique family recipes that are not so familiar, and these are the one-of-a-kind celebration dishes that deserve their own spotlight. Hopefully, they will inspire you to incorporate some new traditions into your holiday meal this year! Read more about the owner of Broken Arrow Ranch Chris Hughes’s favorite holiday dishes, among others, in the December 2020 edition of Texasliving.
During the holidays, Hughes said he remembers his mom making a big pot of venison chili, served with tamales, but for a real treat, she would make a mouth-watering venison osso buco. “It was my dad’s favorite and always a family favorite,” he said. “One of my favorites as well.”
Venison Osso Buco | Yields 4 to 6 servings
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
- ½ teaspoon coriander, ground
Venison Osso Buco
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 pounds Broken Arrow Ranch whole venison shanks
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¾ cup red wine, preferably Burgundy/Pinot Noir or Zinfandel
- 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained (or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced)
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- Cornstarch (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Combine the herb rub ingredients and rub the mixture on all sides of the meat. Season meat with salt and pepper.
- On the stovetop, heat a braiser or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add butter and olive oil to the pot. Then, working in small batches, brown osso buco on both sides. Remove browned osso buco to a platter.
- Reduce heat to medium and sauté onion until golden brown, adding a little more butter or olive oil if necessary.
- Add carrots and celery and sauté until tender.
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add red wine. Deglaze the pot by scraping up the fond with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add tomatoes, beef broth, bay leaves, and rosemary to the pot. Return the osso buco to the pan along with any accumulated juices.
- Cover the pot and cook in the oven until the meat is tender, at least 4 to 6 hours.
- When the osso buco is tender, remove them from the pot onto a warm platter. Reduce the remaining pan juices about half on the stovetop over high heat. If necessary, the sauce can be thickened with a water and cornstarch slurry or beurre manié (softened butter and flour mixture).
- Prepare gremolata by mixing together parsley, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Serve osso buco topped with sauce and gremolata. Osso buco goes well with “white” creamy sides such as risotto, polenta, bean puree, or simply creamy mashed potatoes.
Tip: I find braised dishes are even better when allowed to read overnight. The meat is more tender, and the flavors have blended. If possible, make a day in advance, store overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat when ready to serve.