Camping doesn’t mean you can’t eat a gourmet meal. This Campfire Dutch Oven Osso Buco with Lemon Gremolata is easy to prepare in the kitchen or outdoors over hot coals. Find more of my cast iron campfire Dutch oven recipes.
To celebrate the end of school and the beginning of summer my family and I went camping this weekend. We went with another family, and I spent the weekend watching the kids attempt fishing.
For me, it’s like watching paint dry. But, after one of our busiest weeks, I was so exhausted that watching the kids pull up their empty hooks out of brown water was a very relaxing affair.
The kids lost interest when they couldn’t catch anything. The Professor caught tree branches, most of the kids would just lose their bait. Good thing our dinner was dependent on what we caught.
My friends that were camping with us are always eager to try out my cooking experiments. In fact, this camping trip was concocted just so I could cook Osso Buco in our cast iron dutch oven.
I had never made Osso Buco before and I knew this would be a great gourmet meal to make while camping. You can’t eat burgers and dogs every time you camp.
Why you have to try this recipe
Osso buco is a Milanese dish featuring braised veal shanks. You can swap out the veal shanks and use cross cut beef shanks instead. Veal is more tender, but yes, from younger calves.
The shanks are braised slowly in a delicious tomato base. Having never had this dish before and trying it for the first time on a camping trip seemed, well, crazy. But cooking a stew in the woods in your cast iron Dutch oven over a campfire is not any more complicated than cooking this over the stove.
While cooking, I realized that I had forgotten the wine for this dish. But we had beer, so we used that instead. The shanks were still incredible after simmering the deliciousness for 3 hours.
I had bought a roll of prepared polenta from Trader Joe’s and sliced them into rounds and toasted them up with olive oil in a pan. I served these with the Osso Buco. Mmmmm…. lip smacking good!
Another campfire cooking challenge was won!
Ingredients you need
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- Veal shanks: Osso buco is traditionally made with veal shanks. If you do not eat veal, you can use cross cut beef shanks instead. Veal is more tender, but yes, from younger calves.
- Vegetables: Celery, carrot, onion and garlic
- Kalamata olives: If you are not a fan of olives, you can omit them altogether.
- Beer: As I mentioned above, I had forgotten the wine and used beer instead. You can of course use red wine. Choose a dry red and not a fruity one.
- Lemon: You will use the zest and juice from a lemon.
- Butter: The meat is browned in butter and olive oil. If you don’t want to use butter, you can use just the olive oil.
- Herbs: bay leaf, fresh thyme and parsley
- Pantry staples: Chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, all purpose flour, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
1. Season both sides of the shanks with salt and pepper. Coat each side of shanks with flour.
2. Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat and add butter and olive oil. Brown both sides of the shanks in 2 batches then reserve on a plate.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add celery, carrots, onions and garlic. Sauté vegetables until softened and lightly browned.
4. Stir in tomatoes, olives, beer, broth, thyme, sprigs of parsley, bay leaf and 2 TBS lemon zest.
5. Bring to a boil and place shanks into the pot in 1 layer. Cover pot and place the Dutch oven in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 2 ½ hours.
6. In the meantime, make the gremolata by combining parsley, garlic and lemon zest. When osso buco is done, discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf. Garnish with gremolata and serve immediately.
7. To serve with polenta, brown the rounds in a cast iron pan with a bit of hot oil or butter.
Expert tips and recipe FAQs
We have a few more camping trips planned for the summer and we are already thinking about what we should cook next. Of course, that seems to be more important than the destination!
If cooking outdoors, heat coals until smokey and glowing orange, using a chimney charcoal starter. Brown veal and vegetables in the Dutch oven with 10-12 hot coals underneath it.
When you are ready to combine everything and braise the stew, place 7 hot coals underneath the Dutch oven. Cover and place 16 hot coals evenly on top of the lid
This recipe is also featured in my new cookbook, The Camp & Cabin Cookbook (Countryman Press 2018). I have 100 recipes that are all prepared outdoors and over fire using multiple techniques. Learn more about my camp cookbook!
This cookbook was definitely a labor of love! I share 100 recipes, from breakfast to mains, even drinks, all prepared over a campfire. I share multiple cooking techniques, including ash, grilling and Dutch oven cooking. There is something for everyone!
The real question is what CAN’T you cook in a cast iron Dutch oven – the list is shorter! If you can fit it in a Dutch oven, you can cook it. Some people say not to cook acidic foods in cast iron. All this does is wear away the seasoning, which is easy to replace and reseason. I bake cakes, breads, cookies, cobblers… almost any dessert in my Dutch oven. And for meals? The possibilities are endless!
- 6 cross-cut veal shanks, approx. 1-lb each
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 TBS unsated butter
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 30 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted & halved
- 1 cup beer
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 TBS + 2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, diced
- Season both sides of the shanks with salt and pepper.
- Coat each side of shanks with flour.
- Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat and add butter and olive oil.
- Brown both sides of the shanks in 2 batches, 10 to 12 minutes per batch, and reserve on a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium and add celery, carrots, onions and 3 chopped garlic cloves.
- Sauté vegetables until softened and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, olives, beer, broth, thyme, sprigs of parsley, bay leaf and 2 TBS lemon zest.
- Bring to a boil and place shanks into the pot in 1 layer.
- Cover pot and place the Dutch oven in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 2 ½ hours.
- For camping instructions, see notes below for coal count.
- In the meantime, make the gremolata by combining ¼ cup chopped parsley, 1 diced garlic clove and 2 teaspoon lemon zest.
- When osso buco is done, discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf.
- Garnish with gremolata and serve immediately.
Serve with risotto, polenta (pictured above), potatoes or a hearty, crusty bread.
This dish is great for campfire cooking in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Heat coals until smokey and glowing orange, using a Chimney Charcoal Starter. Brown veal and vegetables in the Dutch oven with 10-12 hot coals underneath it. When you are ready to combine everything and braise the stew, place 7 hot coals underneath the Dutch oven. Cover and place 16 hot coals evenly on top of the lid.
Osso buco (without gremolata) can also be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Reheat, covered, in a 325°F oven 30 to 40 minutes.
Serving Size:1 shank
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 408Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 1032mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 28g
PS If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback.
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