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I'm preparing this for a group of about 10. One thought that most of the prep can be done in advance. Along that same idea, what are good side dishes for osso bucco? Ideally (though it's not critical), I'd like something that could be done ahead of time. I've seen a version or risotto as the classic side, but that requires a lot of last-minute prep.

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If you don't want to make risotto with your guests in attendance, how about a soft polenta? It's probably next in line for classic pairing.
You can put it on the stove a few hours before they come and just leave it to simmer until you're ready to serve. Water, polenta and salt to taste - whisk the polenta into the boiling water until you see swells developing- that's it.
You can actually leave this on for hours and hours with the occasional stir of a wooden spoon. (don't turn the burner off - it will harden immediately)
When timing is a factor-- as it is in this case-- I like to do polenta wedges. Make the polenta in advance the usual way, but keep stirring until it pulls completely away from the sides of the pot. Then put all of it into a well-buttered or oiled brownie pan (you'll likely need 2 if you're making a lot to serve 10 big eaters), or glass pyrex dish, or anything else that's square or rectangular and can go in the oven. The polenta should be about an inch thick. I like to put a little extra parmiggiano on top as well.

Before you serve, heat it in the oven for about 15 min. (you can also do it on the grill, as the polenta gets very firm once it has cooled) and then cut it into wedges (or you can stick to squares or circles, or modified polyhedrons if you have some time to kill) to serve under the osso bucco and its sauce. If you grill it, cut it into wedges first.

When you make the polenta, you can vary it a bit by adding things like finely diced bell pepper, or well-browned mushrooms, or lots of Italian parsley, etc. I even did it once with shrimp to accompany sea scallops. This is really an easy go-to dish for me.
Last edited by seaquam
re: make ahead polenta - I've had good results, once done, putting it in a metal bowl with saran wrap over top set in a pot on the stove like a double boiler and let it simmer away gently - it will hold indefinitely as long as you don't run out of water in the pot. I also think it helps 'fluff' it up a little and smooth out some of the lumps (i'm no mangiare..)
Originally posted by KSC02:
Originally posted by Rob_Sutherland:
+142. A wild game night offline at joe beef with a twc contingent this fall? I would be willing to put that down in permanent ink in my calendar.

An awesome idea indeed but JB is not BYOB and the table limit is (6) due to restaurant size

Bah, there's nothing wrong with two nights of gluttonous debauchery! Devilish

It's just every time I read once again about PDC/JB etc. I again realize how much I need to get there again!
I ended up making a big pan of mushroom polenta the morning of the Osso Bucco dinner, and it worked out quite well.

I sautéed some crimini and shiitake mushrooms in olive oil and butter, slowly, and got great color and a bit of carmelization (don't stir too much, and don't salt!). I sautéed them in the stainless steel pot in which I planned to cook the polenta. I removed the shrooms and poured in water, deglazing the pan. Brought to a boil, stirred in the polenta and, after a bit, added the mushrooms, some finely minced rosemary, and simmered and stirred for awhile. Just before completion, I threw in about 1/3 cup of sour cream. Poured that into a glass baking dish and chilled.

Before dinner, I cut the polenta into triangles and topped them with good parmesan cheese, placed under the broiler to brown, and served with the Osso Bucco on top. It worked out really well. Thank you all for the suggestions.

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