How to make Venison Osso Buco

When it comes to mushrooms, many hunters or processors choose to cut the meat into either stew pieces or ground meat. However, much of the flavor resides in the bones of game mushrooms. The bone itself enriches the sauce in which it is cooked, while the bit of marrow inside is truly a delicacy.

Osso buco, or ossobuco, is a classic Italian dish. It’s usually made with veal mushrooms cut crosswise, but here we’re using venison mushrooms (especially whitetail, but you can use any big game leg). Osso buco translates to “bone with a hole” for the way the neck bone is cut to expose the marrow. You can make osso buco from front or back axles, although I personally prefer to use the rear axles.

Saw for cutting venison fillets.
Use a jigsaw to cut the shafts while they are frozen. Jack Hennessy

Many hunters think you need a band saw to cut mushrooms into 3-inch-thick pieces for osso buco. But a hacksaw, which costs about $10 at most hardware stores, gets the job done. You just have to use mostly frozen meat and some elbow grease. On an average Kansas whitetail, I can get two good-sized cuts from a hindquarter.

This version of osso buco is a different take on the dish. But the concept remains the same: fried mushrooms slowly cooked in a hearty sauce. And if you don’t have the tools or time to cut the tails for osso buco, you can repeat this recipe with a whole filet—just cook an hour or two longer so the meat softens in the sauce.


Serves 2

  • Two 3-inch cross-section shafts, 5 to 6 ounces each, plus any shaft left over from the shaft you cut
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Olive oil
  • 4 ounces gourmet mushroom mix (crimini, shiitake and oyster) rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon of salted butter
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups of broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • Two carrots, cut into cubes
  • Two bay leaves
  • Half a cup of red wine
  • Four cloves of garlic, roasted/fried
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 spoons of brown sugar
  • 3 cups of water, boiled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

For the polenta:

  • 3 cups of water, boiled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Corn Kernels
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan


Cut the mostly frozen string into two 3-inch lengths with a hacksaw. leave any remaining stems whole. Allow the cut tails to thaw in the refrigerator after sawing. When thawed, tie the thighs with kitchen twine to “bolster” the muscles and prevent them from loosening during cooking. Lightly salt and pepper the meat on all sides and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat a pot with a few inches of olive oil to 325 degrees F and add 4 cloves of fresh garlic. When the garlic has browned, remove and set aside.

When you are ready to fry the chives, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. In a large Dutch oven, add a thin layer of olive oil from the pot used to fry the garlic. Heat over medium heat. Lightly coat the thighs with flour and add to the Dutch oven, being careful not to crowd the pan, and brown well on both sides. This should take 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

Game tails tied with twine.
Tie the arms with kitchen twine to hold them together. Jack Hennessy

When the tails are fully browned, remove and set aside. Add the diced onion and carrots to the Dutch oven, along with a drizzle of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are mostly tender.

Deglaze with red wine and use a wooden spoon to scoop up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir for a few minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper and brown sugar. Boil for 10 minutes then add all the contents of the pot to a food processor along with the fried garlic. Mix well and add back to the dutch oven.

Add the thighs to the sauce in the Dutch oven along with a few bay leaves and cover. Place the dutch oven in your 300 degree oven and check every hour, adding more broth if necessary to make sure the thighs are at least halfway submerged in the sauce. After a couple of hours, salt to taste. Cook for 4 to 6 hours, until the tails are tender.

fried vegetables in a pan.
Boil the vegetables until they are soft. Jack Hennessy

To make the cheese polenta, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the corn flakes and reduce the heat, stirring frequently. Cook for 5 minutes (or until the water is absorbed and the beans are fluffy) then remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan a few minutes before serving.

Read more: Want to Make the Perfect Smoked Back? Use frozen meat

About 10 to 15 minutes before serving, heat a small skillet over medium heat and add salted butter to the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms in the pan until they are browned and slightly softened.

To serve, spread the polenta and top with a filo and a generous amount of sauce. Add the fried mushrooms and garnish with chopped fresh parsley (optional).

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